Trailer - Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves (Toei Doga, 1971)
Yes! I finally found the trailer to the 1971 Toei Doga movie, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. I also see that I haven't written about this picture in a long while, so we're overdue for another shout-out.
I really do like this Ali Baba. It doesn't really look like anyone's expectations of an "anime" movie, more like a Rocky & Bullwinkle cartoon mashed up with Dr. Seuss. It doesn't aim to be anything more than a zany kids' cartoon, and it's a lot of fun.
Hayao Miyazaki, of course, contributes arguably the movie's best scene, the crazy castle chase between Ali Baba and the goofy, cat-phobic genie. It's probably a little too similar to the castle chase from the 1969 Puss in Boots, which was one of the all-time anime classics, but there's a lot to enjoy and every moment is inspired. His mastery of comic timing and three-dimensional visual perspective, the slapstick gags, the funny cartoon poses, it's all so perfect. For those who are fans of Miyazaki's early period, Ali Baba is a standout, alongside Puss in Boots and Animal Treasure Island.
Of course, there's more to this movie than Hayao Miyazaki, a point few Westerns seem to grok sometimes. Most of Toei Doga's star talent worked on this picture: Akira Daikubara, Yasuji Mori, Reiko Okuyama, Yoichi Kotabe, Akemi Ota. Yasuo Otsuka, by this point, had already moved on to the A Productions studio to create the Lupin III anime series, and Isao Takahata had been demoted back down to directing television as revenge for the "Horus Rebellion." I'd really love to know who was responsible for which scenes. Calling Ben Ettinger!
Unfortunately, the days of Toei Doga's lavishly-produced animated features was over; cheap TV had taken over, and that meant much lower budgets for film productions. Ali Baba suffers notably because of this; the visuals are clearly "limited" animation, and Ali Baba was not successful at the box office. It was released around the world, and later released in the US under the title, "Ali Baba's Revenge," but remains stubbornly overlooked.
Shortly after Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, Toei Doga founder and visionary Hiroshi Okawa died, marking this the end of an important era in ths history of Japanese animation. He established a standard for quality, and spawned a generation of artists who would revolutionize and define the art form for the next 50 years. Studio Ghibli is the direct heir to the Toei tradition.
Discotek really ought to release Ali Baba in the US, but since hardly anybody bothered to buy their other Toei Doga DVDs, that's not likely to happen. This is what happens when ya steal everything off the internet, kids! We gots ta pay the rent around here!