Monday, July 18, 2011

#346. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Directed By: Nathan Juran

Starring: Kerwin Mathews, Kathryn Grant, Richard Eyer

Tag line: "8th Wonder of the Screen!"

Trivia:  This was the first feature using stop-motion animation effects to be completely shot in color.

The legend of Sinbad, a sailor who, in his tireless search for treasure and glory, relied on his quick wits and courage to take him around the world, is one of the most popular folk stories to spring from the Middle East, and if it weren't for the fact they were written hundreds of years ago, I'd have sworn the tales of this mythical hero's exploits were penned with stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen in mind. 

As part of a peace treaty, Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews), the noblest man in all Baghdad, is to be married to the beautiful princess Parisa (Kathryn Grant). Sinbad, who has taken personal responsibility for the princesses safety, is sailing back to Baghdad with his bride-to-be when his ship makes an unexpected detour to the small island of Colossa, where it's attacked by a humongous cyclops. Fortunately for Sinbad and his crew, a mysterious magician named Sokurah (Torin Thatcher), who, we learn, lives on this island, comes to their rescue, fending off the creature by way of his impressive powers. The cyclops flees, but in the process of defeating the creature, Sokurah loses his magical lamp. This lamp, which houses a genie (Richard Eyer) capable of granting your every wish, is eventually claimed by the cyclops, and Sokurah begs first Sinbad, then the Caliph of Baghdad (Alec Mango), to help him recover it. But when both men refuse to risk any further lives on such folly, Sokurah resorts to drastic measures to secure the help he so desperately needs. 

Many of Harryhausen’s finest creations have been associated, in one way or another, with the sea, stretching all the way back to his early days on films like It Came From Beneath the Sea, right through to the deadly Kraken, which ascended from the ocean floor to wreak havoc in 1981’s Clash of the Titans. With the legend of Sinbad, Harryhausen was handed the perfect vehicle with which to flex his animation skills, creating a string of unique creatures both in and out of the water. Perhaps the most amazing of his creations in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is the Cyclops, a one-eyed monster, standing several stories high, that's amassed a great deal of wealth by plundering ships that wander too close to its cove. Along with the cyclops, Sinbad faces off against a slew of other creatures in 7th Voyage, including a dragon, a skeleton soldier, and a giant 2-headed bird. These, and many other hazardous perils, would challenge the courage and determination of Sinbad, while simultaneously granting Ray Harryhausen full rein to let his imagination run wild. 

Harryhausen would tackle the legend of Sinbad in three separate films (aside from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, he'd also lend his special talents to 1974’s The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and 1977’s Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger), furthering the exploits of the Persian sailor in the most spectacular ways imaginable. This combination of a legendary character with an animator of impeccable skills turned out to be a match made in heaven, and together, Sinbad and Harryhausen would go on to produce some of the finest fantasy films in motion picture history.


Klaus said...

One of my all time favorite "television" movies as a kid!

Dave Becker said...

Klaus: This was one of my TV movies as a kid as well, along with SINGAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER.