Grover Crisp (Sony Columbia)
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad marked the launch of the stop-motion model animation process that producer Charles Schneer grandly named Dynamation. It also signalled a change of direction for Schneer and his visual effects partner, Ray Harryhausen, after the series of science-fiction films they had been making during the early 1950s. Harryhausen had originally been inspired to take up model animation by seeing King Kong as a youth, and cut his professional teeth working with Willis O’Brien on Mighty Joe Young (1949). But although himself an early sci-fi enthusiast, he wanted to make a mythological subject, rather than the ‘monster’ movies that were a staple of American exploitation cinema at this time. For Sinbad, he revived the world of Korda’s classic Thief of Bagdad (1940), with a young television writer Kenneth Kolb combining the traditional 1001 Nights elements of a princess in peril, evil magician and magic lamp with a distinctly Greek storyline, which has Kerwin Mathews’ intrepid swordsman on an odyssey that takes him to Colossa island guarded by the giant Cyclops. While Harryhausen’s Cyclops opened the way to his many later mythological creatures, it was the fighting skeleton created for this film that became one of his most distinctive creations, returning in force five years later in Jason and the Argonauts. For what was also his first experience of working in colour, Harryhausen hoped to have Miklós Rózsa, the composer for Thief of Bagdad, but was apparently persuaded by Schneer to employ Bernard Herrmann, then strongly identified with Welles and Hitchcock (Sinbad came between Vertigo and North by Northwest). The partnership proved a happy one, and led to Herrmann scoring three more of Harryhausen and Schneer’s adventure fantasies. The film’s box-office success may well have been boosted by coinciding with another take on mythology, Joe Levine’s heavily promoted release of Steve Reeves as Hercules, launching a new wave of Italian-made peplum.
Cast and Credits
Sog.: Ray Harryhausen. Scen.: Kenneth Kolb. F.: Wilkie Cooper. M.: Edwin H. Bryant, Jerome Thoms. Scgf.: Gil Parrondo. Mus.: Bernard Herrmann. Int.: Kerwin Mathews (Sinbad), Kathryn Grant (principessa Parisa), Richard Eyer (il genio), Torin Thatcher (il mago), Alec Mango (il califfo), Danny Green (Karim), Harold Kasket (il sultano), Alfred Brown (Harufa). Prod.: Charles Schneer per Morningside Productions, Inc. DCP. D.: 87’. Col.
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