- Paul Leni's 1926 Short Rebus Film I
- Excerpt from Douglas Fairbank's The Thief of Bagdad
- Color Tinted
- Rated: Not Rated
- Run Time: 1 hours, 23 minutes
- Video: Color
- Released: September 24, 2002
- Originally Released: 1922
- Label: Kino Video
- Encoding: Region 1 (USA & Canada)
- Packaging: Keep Case
- Aspect Ratio: Full Frame - 1.33
- Additional Release Material:
- Shorts: "Rebus Film I"
- Bonus Footage: THE THEIF OF BAGDAD
- Interactive Features:
- Interactive Menus
- Scene Access
Performers, Cast and Crew:
Description by OLDIES.com:
In this rarely seen masterwork of the German Expressionist movement, a trilogy of terror is woven around the wax figures of a carnival sideshow.
An idealistic young poet (Wilhelm Dieterle, later to become a Hollywood director) is hired to write stories about the Chamber of Horrors' three most notorious figures: Jack the Ripper (Werner Krauss), Ivan the Terrible (Conrad Veidt) and Haroun Al-Raschid (Emil Jannings). But as the uncanny tales flow from the poet's pen, he finds himself enveloped in the nightmare worlds of his own creation.
One of the most innovative stylists of the German silent cinema, director Paul Leni (The Cat and the Canary, The Man Who Laughs) applied a variety of visual techniques to this ambitious anthology film, drawing from his years as a set designer under the great Max Reinhardt. From the fairy-tale Arabia of the Al-Raschid story (said to have inspired Douglas Fairbanks to make The Thief of Bagdad), to the dark and oppressive kingdom of Ivan the Terrible, to the whirling lights and swordlike shadows of the carnival through which Jack the Ripper stalks the protagonist, Leni managed to raise the techniques of German Expressionism to new conceptual heights.
German director Paul Leni's popular silent expressionist film is a three-part horror-fantasy with an omnibus structure inspired by Fritz Lang's DESTINY, designed after THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI and THE GOLEM. At a carnival's waxworks exhibit, a young writer (William Dieterle) creates stories about the figures. In an Arabian Nights, THIEF OF BAGHDAD style fantasy, he imagines himself as Assad, a baker married to the beautiful Zarah (Olga Belajeff). When Baghdad's lusty caliph, Harun Al-Raschid (Emil Jannings) begins pursuing Zarah, Assad embarks on a quest to prove his worthiness by stealing the caliph's wishing ring. In the second tale, evil Russian czar Ivan the Terrible (imposingly played by Conrad Veidt) forces poisoned prisoners to watch their last moments dwindle away in an hourglass. A paranoid madman, Ivan's life comes to an ironic end in the Kremlin's murky dungeons. In the final story, Spring-Heeled Jack (Werner Krauss), a Jack the Ripper type killer, stalks the writer through the distorted, creepily atmospheric carnival grounds. Featuring impressive performances by Germany's biggest theater-film stars of the day, highly stylized sets, and clever tales with surprise endings, Leni's film is an essential part of the German expressionist canon.
- A silent film.
- Theatrical release: November 13, 1924.
- Conrad Veidt (Ivan the Terrible) was probably best known to American audiences for playing evil Nazi commander Major Strasser in CASABLANCA, one of his last films. Veidt, however, was already world famous for his work in early German films, playing the somnambulist in THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, and the title part in the 1926 version of THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE.
- Werner Krauss (Spring-Heeled Jack/Jack the Ripper) co-starred with Veidt in THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI, playing the role of Dr. Caligari.
- Emil Jannings (Harun Al-Raschid) was one of the most prominent German film actors of his time, having starred in F.W. Murnau's THE LAST LAUGH and E.A. Dupont's VARIETY. Jannings won an Oscar in the first Academy Award ceremony for his first two American films, THE LAST COMMAND and THE WAY OF ALL FLESH.
- William Dieterle (writer/Assad) began directing films in 1923, and later immigrated to Hollywood, where he directed, most notably, ALL THAT MONEY CAN BUY and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME.
- Renowned screenwriter-director Henrik Galeen, who also wrote such classic German Expressionist films as the first and third filmed version of THE GOLEM, NOSFERATU, and the 1926 remake of THE STUDENT OF PRAGUE (which he also directed), wrote the film.
- Though Leni is given sole director credit, Leo Birinsky is sometimes credited with having directed the actors in the film.
- Veidt would also star in Leni's THE MAN WHO LAUGHS.