Exotic adventure, thrills and romance were all to be had in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, the second of three Sinbad movies that special-effects animator Ray Harryhausen helped to create during the 1950s-1970s. The first film - The 7th Voyage of Sinbad ( 1958 ) - was a storybook Arabian Nights fantasy that combined an exciting tale of adventure with amazing stop-motion animated creatures, a powerful Bernard Herrmann score, and beautiful location scenery. It was extremely popular with children and adults alike during its initial release, but its creators, Harryhausen and producer Charles Schneer, had several other projects in the stewpot and did not concentrate on developing another Sinbad film to follow up on its success until the early 1970s.
This film, aptly titled The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, found the turbaned sailor ( John Philip Law ) on a quest for the missing pieces of an ancient golden tablet that points the way to an island which contains a mythical fountain granting eternal wealth and power to the man who bathes in its waters. Over land and sea Sinbad journeyed with the evil magician Koura ( Tom Baker ) ever on his tail. Koura desperately sought the restoring power of the fountain because his life force was draining out of him with every incantation he chanted.
This story plot provided Ray Harryhausen with ample opportunities to pit various creatures against our hero and the film featured some of Harryhausen's best Dynamation work including the bat-like Homonicus, a messenger to Koura; the wooden figurehead which comes to life; the terrifying centaur; and the griffin, defender of the magic fountain. Also, who could possibly forget the six-armed statue of Kali? Despite being slow on its feet, it was nimble with its swordplay.
Aside from creating the stop-motion sequences of mythical creatures and other characters, Harryhausen helped flesh out the stories to almost all of the films he worked on. He also created extremely detailed storyboards allowing the directors to simply follow each block like a comic book.
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad was three years in the making with Harryhausen spending one year strictly at work filming the creatures. Critical reception was generally negative upon its release but that did not deter its creators from making a third Sinbad film several years later - Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger ( 1977 ).
Screenwriter Brian Clemens ( of The Avengers fame ) penned a marvelous script for The Golden Voyage of Sinbad filled with nonstop action. Combined with the talented cast, a sweeping Miklos Rozsa score, and Harryhausen's "magic", it has now gained the rightful reputation of being the best of the Sinbad series.
Of the three actors who portrayed Sinbad in each of the Harryhausen pictures, John Philip Law, the star of The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, was certainly the most convincing, capturing the adventurous spirit and the inspiring leadership of the fabled sailor. With Law portraying Sinbad, it is easy to see why his sailors followed him to the four corners of the world.
Tom Baker is also excellent as Koura, the master of the black arts, with his intense eyes and imposing presence. Christopher Lee was originally slated to play this part, but through a stroke of good fortune Baker was cast. This film would be instrumental in Baker obtaining the role of the fourth doctor in the television series, Dr. Who.
Also cast in the film was Caroline Munro as the buxom slave girl Marinda, Douglas Wilmer as the mysterious gold-masked vizier, and Kurt Christian as Sinbad's friend Haroun, included for comic relief.
This post is our contribution to The Ray Harryhausen Blogathon being hosted by Wolffian Classics Movies Digest. To read more posts about Harryhausen, his life, and his work, check out this link!