Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Director: Nathan Juran

Starring: Kerwin Matthews, Kathryn Grant, Richard Eyer, Torin Thatcher

More Info: IMDB

Tagline: 8th Wonder of the Screen!

Plot: When a princess is shrunken by an evil wizard, Sinbad must undertake a quest to an island of monsters to cure her and prevent a war.

My Rating: 10/10

Would I watch it again? Do I dream of topless Genies with light brown hair?

This is part of the TRAILER TRASH PROJECT - #21 from SWORD & SANDAL TRAILERS VOL. 1.

From the land beyond beyond...
From the world past hope and fear...
I bid you, Genie, now appear!

Now THIS is a Sinbad movie. I can't say enough about this film, and since a picture is worth a thousand words, here's 10,000 of 'em.

If that doesn't sell you on watching this picture then I don't know what will. It's one of the wildest, well-paced, eye-popping rides in town and it has been for half a century. What I would give to be an 8 year old boy back in '58 seeing this movie for the first time in a theater. I have seen this many times over the years since I was a kid and it never gets old. I'm still in awe of the craftsmanship and the storytelling abilities of these film makers. It really is the 8th wonder of the screen.

VOYAGE is solid high-adventure from start to finish. In the first 10 minutes alone you get a Cyclops fight! How badass is that? There's very little down time between action sequences. And when there is there's plenty of magic and special effects to keep your eyes busy, so much so that you dare to blink for fear of missing a single frame.

I'd normally have an issue with the hero and heroine being portrayed by Americans but not this time. They do just fine but it's more than that. The real stars of the film are not human but stop-motion animated puppets. The effects work in this thing is legendary. The stop-motion animation process brings these creatures to life in a way that no other process can. Some of them look almost real.

The other big star here cannot be seen but heard. Bernard Herrmann. He's my favorite film composer. There's probably a dozen other composers in my top 5 but he takes the cake. What he did with so little is brilliant. He paints with notes in such a way that each film is rich with atmosphere unlike any other. Ray Harryhausen made his creatures move but it was Herrmann's music that made them breath. It's one of the finest adventure scores written for film. From the rousing accelerated clashes of strings and percussion to the bowels of the underbelly of the bass clarinet, this score evokes visions of wonder and excitement that you would be hard-pressed to surpass by any other.

Off topic: Here's a scene that gave me a chuckle.

Princess Parisa: If you're indeed a magician, who do you not use your great power to slay the one-eyed monster?

Snicker. And what's up with her hair? That little patch has always given me the creeps. Is it supposed to be stylish?

It's been a couple of years or so since I last watched this but as I was viewing it last night I couldn't help but notice the influence this film has had on film makers like Steven Spielberg, George Luca$ and Peter Jackson. It's not just the images but the emotion and atmosphere that was created around them that was re-created very faithfully by the above three directors.

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

Raiders of the Lost Ark

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

Star Wars

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad

Lord of the Rings

THE 7th VOYAGE OF SINBAD is storytelling at its finest. It's special effects god Ray Harryhausen's crowning achievement for an overall film. He surpassed himself many times in the subsequent Sinbad pictures and in JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963) (who can forget the breathtaking fight with Jason and a bunch of undead, sword-wielding skeletons?) with his creature effects but it's with VOYAGE that all of the elements of storytelling from every department come together to make one of the greatest adventure movies of all time.

Here's some more excellent poster art...

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