Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Quick Look: THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1958 - color)

   THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD was the most influential special effects picture since KING KONG, inspiring another generation into the field of effects and film in general. The plot is fairly simple. Torin Thatcher is an evil magician who must return to his cave lair on a remote island in order to recover a captive genie. He traps heroic sailor/adventurer Sinbad into helping him by casting a spell upon Princess Kathryn Grant that shrinks her to the size of a doll. Only Thatcher has the spell to return her to normal, and the ingredients are back on the island. Kerwin Matthews' Sinbad is fearless, which is good because the island is swarming with giant monsters! Prior to THE 7TH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, Sinbad movies weren't known for their monsters. Aside from a little magic, the bulk of Sinbad epics were basic costume adventures. Only THE THIEF OF BAGDAD really played to the all-fantastic, all-the-time formula which was to take over the genre following this Columbia release in 1958. Ray Harryhausen had reached a point where he could help form the direction of the films he worked on. Tiring of destroying modern cities, Ray turned his attention to the more romantic era of fantasy. He'd long wanted to do an Arabian Nites picture, and Sinbad, as Ray put it, "personified adventure." Pulling out all the stops, the film was a full color feast for the eyes! Ray's cyclops remains one of his most identified creations. The film was an astounding success, paving the way for similar fare. An imported Russian fantasy film was dubbed to name it's hero Sinbad and released as an unofficial sequel titled THE MAGIC VOYAGE OF SINBAD. (And somewhere in there was even a Toho epic released as THE LOST WORLD OF SINBAD...) Kerwin Matthews and Torin Thatcher were hired to essentially re-create their roles for the delightful fantasy adventure JACK THE GIANT KILLER. Harryhausen would return the character with THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, where John Phillip Law turned in a fine performance as our hero. One of Ray's last films was SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER, with Patrick Wayne. Even before those sequels, Ray had officially found his niche in period adventure epics. His Sinbad vehicle was followed by the even bigger smash, JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS. Based in Greek myth, that film is largely considered Ray's best.

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