A very handsome 2K restoration of Douglas Fairbanks’s 1924 “The Thief of Bagdad” is the first library release from the Cohen Media Group, a new distributor that has acquired the rights to what was once known as the Raymond Rohauer Collection. Among the 600 or so other titles in the collection are quite a few treasures that have remained buried because the source material needs some major restoration; here’s hoping that Charles Cohen, the CEO of the new company, will be continue the fine work in evidence here with, for example, Frank Borzage’s 1925 “The Lady,” William K. Howard’s 1926 “Gigolo” and Roland West’s 1928 “The Dove,” just to pick a few of the more tantalizing titles in the catalog.
Fairbanks’s “Thief” has certainly not looked this good since its first release; the dust has been effectively busted without losing the texture of the images, and the color tints have been rendered with taste and restraint. The score, by Carl Davis, comes to us from the old Photoplay edition. Though the director of record is Raoul Walsh, this is one time when I’d assign the authorship to its star, producer and writer, in the person of Mr. Fairbanks, as well as to the great production designer William Cameron Menzies, who began construction the amazing art nouveau sets before Walsh was hired to direct. My New York Times review is here, along with an account of Criterion’s release of the seminal cinema-verite documentary “Chronicle of a Summer,” by Jean Rouch and Edgar Morin.