Sunday, April 19, 2009

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

One of my first memories of seeing Ray Harryhausen's stop-motion magic was the Cyclops from The 7th Voyage of Sinbad ,the scene where it comes out of the cave and the Genie is summoned to build a wall between the Cyclops and Sinbad and his crew.
Directed by Nathan H. Juran, who also directed 20 Million Miles to Earth for which Ray Harryhausen had created the FX, the film was the first in a trilogy of Sinbad films made by Columbia Pictures. Sinbad, played by Kerwin Mathews, is on his way to Baghdad with his fiancé Princess Parisa (Kathryn Grant) when they stop at the island of Colossa for provisions,
they find evidence of a giant creature when they find footprints on the beach, then they encounter Sokurah the magician (Torin Thatcher) who is being pursued by a giant Cyclops, carrying a magic lamp Sokurah summons a genie who builds a wall of energy between the Cyclops and the men allowing them to escape in a boat, but the lamp is lost overboard and the Cyclops recovers it. On their return to Baghdad the Caliph refuses Sokurah a ship and crew to retrieve the lamp.That night Sokurah secretly shrinks Parisa to a small size. Sokurah then claims that he knows of a potion that can restore her, but it requires ingredients only to be found on the island of Colossa. The Caliph of Baghdad has no choice, so Sinbad enlists loyal men from his previous voyage, they also have to recruit thieves and murderers from the Caliph's prison to help make up the crews numbers.
For me The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is the best of the Sinbad films, once back on the island of Colossa Sinbad and his crew encounter the Cyclops, a two headed bird called a Roc, Sinbad fights a skelton swordsman, 5 years before Harryhausen's groundbreaking skeleton fight in Jason and the Argonauts , Sokurah's castle is protected by a fire breathing dragon, who later fights with a Cyclops. Harryhausen's personal favorite was the Snakewoman, created by Sokurah with a combination of Princess Parisa's maid, and a cobra for a scene in which she dances to entertain the Caliph of Baghdad and the Sultan, Parisa's father.
The music in this film by Bernard Herrmann is very memorable, but sadly although he worked on Jason and the Argonauts he never returned for 1974's The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and had passed away by the time Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger was made in 1977.
Nathan H. Juran also directed Kerwin Mathews and Torin Thatcher in 1962's Jack the Giant Killer, which was a stop-motion feature in the vein of the Sinbad films and an attempt to cash in on 7th Voyage's success.

7 comments:

Mattoo said...

It amazes me that the Harryhausen films were so unique for such a long time as the only fantasy special effects extravaganzas. Kids these days are spoiled.

My memories of these films are so specific. Namely, being dragged around shopping centres by bargain hunting parents on a rainy Saturday afternoon and catching what I could on a wall full of TVs in Dixons. Somehow the brief glimpses added to the mystery...

Michael G Clark said...

All those films were great, in proportion to their hokeyness.

My fave still has to be Jason though. It's just ace. I have panel of frames from the movie signed by Ray, he's always been my hero.

Steve said...

I remember the cyclops with fondness but it was the skeleton army that grew from the dragon's teeth that got me every single time as a kid. I know that now they look very clunky to my own kids but, for me, they still take me back...

james corcoran said...

My first memory of Harryhausen was being banished to my Grandparents sitting room and seeing I think what must have been a BBC 2 documentry on his work, I remember being amazed at the skill and imagination involved as a kid you don't tend to stop to think how it was done.I'd probably seen his films before that but would not have known who it was.

A very nice piece Andrew

david said...

saw 7th voyage last year with ray harryhausen and friends (ken ralston,dennis muren) giving a live commentary through out at the aero cinema.They say they are hoping to do it again with jason and the argonauts ..

Moonwatcher said...

The 3 Sinbad films are superb. Fab post Andrew.

DanO said...

Andrew, what do you think is the best overall film that also has effects by Harryhausen?

Last night I was indulging and watching "Jason And The Argonauts", what I used to consider my favorite of his films, but I realized that the score is just horrible. Once I noticed how distracting and heavy handed it was, the movie became hard to watch at points. The pacing towards the end leaves a lot to be desired as well.

Which of the films with his awesome effects do you think is thew best crafted in all other areas?