A reworking of the same Arabian Nights material on which Fairbanks and Walsh's classic 1924 film was based - about a beggar boy who thwarts the evil Vizier Jaffar, with the help of the magical Djinn he releases - now with more emphasis on spectacle and the use of colour. Impatient with Ludwig Berger's approach, Korda brought in Powell and Whelan to direct separate scenes - mainly with Sabu and Veidt, in Powell's case.
The last public event Michael Powell attended was on the evening of 29 November 1989, at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, where he had a screening of a rare nitrate print of The Thief of Bagdad. The picture had just been restored by the British Film Institute. That night was the last time Michael was seen in public and for me it had the poetic sense of a cycle completed. I was first introduced to his work through television in the late forties and early fifties with that very film. It took me a long time to realize that all the film-makers of my generation remembered The Thief of Bagdad as a formative influence. If you mention it to Francis Coppola today, he'll immediately start singing Sabu's song from the film: “I want to be a sailor, can't you understand it?”.
Ian Christie (Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger: Arrows of Desire)