The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Director: Nathan Juran
Writer: Ken Kolb (as Kenneth Kolb)
Stars: Kerwin Mathews, Kathryn Grant, Torin Thatcher

Our hero Sinbad (Mathews) is sailing back home in order to marry the princess (Parisa). Along the journey they stop at Colossa Island in order to pick up much needed supplies for the crew. While there Sinbad helps the magician Sokurah (Thatcher), who with the help of a magic lamp escape a giant cyclops. Sokurah wishes to return to the island but Sinbad refuses, wanting to get back to Baghdad for the celebrations of not only his wedding, but of peace with the neighbouring Chandra.

In order to further his own gains, Sokurah shrinks the princess to a miniature form. When Sinbad seeks out the help of the magician (not knowing it was Sokurah himself who did it), he tells him that a vital ingredient needed to transform the princess back to normal is on the island. With a band of cut-throat criminals, they set off back for the island in order to save the princess.

The problem that I have always had with this particular film is that, well it is just a little dull and too all-American for my tastes (given it is all based off the Arabian Nights tales). I’ve never thought that Mathews made a good Sinbad and his portrayal is far too American and Disney to pull off the role. In contrast, also both American born, John Phillip Law and Patrick Wayne at least looked the part of the Arabian King in their later portrayals of the character.

Maybe the era also has a lot to do with this, having grown up in the seventies, the newer versions just seemed that much more spectacular and full of action and eastern promise to me. I don’t know, but I’ve never been quite able to put my finger on it. Regardless of what in my opinion is slightly stilted dialogue and acting, there is still some damn fine things to enjoy in this adventure. The musical score is certainly one of them and is very fitting.

The stop-motion genius that was Ray Harryhausen is in fine form here (and in colour for the first time). While not my personal favourite creatures or animating he did, it is still excellent, especially given when this made. Ray had a gift of bringing the mythological and impossible to life, and he did it better than anyone. It says a lot about the man and his talent that he inspired a whole new generation of film makers from Spielberg to Lucas.

The scene where Sinbad fights the skeleton (to be later done again in Jason & the Argonauts) is still a fantastic piece of animated effects. I’ve mentioned the slightly stilted acting, but Torin Thatcher must be mentioned individually for his portrayal of the evil and treacherous Sokurah. He was a fantastic actor and is certainly the highlight of this film. Every scene he is in is just menacing brilliance.

To sum up, while I prefer the seventies Sinbad films, this is still a good adventure film and can be enjoyed by the whole family, from young to old. If you like your sword & sorcery stuff (as well as strange giant creatures) and have not seen this one, be sure to look out for it next time it’s on the box.

The Sage’s Rating:

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