Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Ray Harryhausen had specialized in visual effects since the 1940s.  While his works were prominently featured in films like It Came From Beneath the Sea and 20 Million Miles to Earth never had a single film been dedicated to his creations. When the time came for Harryhausen to step up to the plate, he selected an Arabian Nights style fantasy to really show his stuff. Fantasy films were changed forever.


Adventurer and all around hero Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews) is returning to Baghdad with the lovely Princess Parisa (Kathryn Grant) when his ship takes an unexpected detour to the island of Colossa. There he meets Sokurah (Torin Thatcher) a scheming sorcerer who has just pissed off a huge Cyclopes! Sinbad and his men rescue Sokurah and discover that the man has a magic lamp complete with Genie (Richard Eyer). Unfortunately the Cyclopes have taken the lamp, and Sokurah demands it back. Sinbad knows a no win scenario when he sees one and he refuses. They sail from Colossa with a grumpy Sokurah in tow.

When they reach civilization Sinbad parties it up with the Parisa, but Sokurah uses his dark magic to shrink the princess to a handy pocket size. Of course the only way to restore the princess to her proper height is to return to Colossa and obtain the shell from the egg of a huge bird called the Rok. Sinbad grumbles, but he decides to go back, and face the dangers of the island. But it is more than just lumbering Cyclopes and huge birds. He will also face a fire breathing dragon and even an animated skeleton. Will The 7th Voyage of Sinbad be his final journey?

Good Points:
  • Impressive Dynamation effects by Harryhausen
  • Creates an immersive world on the island of Colossa
  • Wonderful golden age score by Bernard Herrmann

Bad Points:
  • Everyone seems awfully white and American to be from the Middle East
  • Some over the top acting (especially by Thatcher) leads to chuckles
  • Some of the effects lack the polish that we’d see in later films

Harryhausen knocks it out of the park with this one. His creatures are amazing and impressive, giving everything an overwhelming scale that hadn’t been seen since King Kong. Beyond that he builds his fantasy world using classic mythic tropes and fairy tale plot points. It makes for a fun ride, even if Mathews feels more like a cowboy than Sinbad. I also love Thatcher, in spite of the fact that he’s the exact opposite of subtle. While it is not my favorite of the Sinbad trilogy, it is a lot of fun.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 4
Sound: 4
Acting: 3
Script: 3
Music: 5
Direction: 4
Entertainment: 4
Total:  4

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I saw this at the drive-in when I was 5 and at a revival at a theater with a friend when we were 10. (This was back in the days when kids routinely went to movie theaters without their parents; today the absent parents probably would be arrested for neglect.) 10 was the ideal age, though this movie is fun at any age. I remember being disappointed to learn this wasn’t a sequel to six equally marvelous movies. Even at age 10 the casting struck me as odd for the reason you mention. Not that I was the slightest bit enlightened in any social consciousness sense; kids just can be critical about details, and all the blue eyes seemed to be a sort of fx credibility lapse in a movie where Harryhausen’s stop action creations were convincing.

    1. Yeah, I think I was about ten or so when I saw this one too. Like you, I thought this was part 7 and wanted to see the others. My dad brought home "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger" as well as the "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad" and I was confused, because i could tell "7th Voyage" was an older movie... but it was the 7th film... :)

      Yeah it wasn't until recently that John Muir pointed out how much of a cowboy character Sinbad is in this movie. That made it all click. It makes sense why they went with that approach, but it is kinda funny to compare this Sinbad with the one from "Golden Voyage" where they made a better attempt to make it a true Arabian Nights adventure.

  2. I think one of my favorite Harryhausen films is Mysterious Island, but they all can be fun entertainment. I think the last one I bought on DVD was Clash of the Titans. I happen to catch it playing on TCM one night, and enjoyed it so much I went out to buy it the next weekend. I haven't cared for the remakes either--I mean, they are semi-watchable, but not as fun. I may enjoy The Golden Voyage of Sinbad a tad more because it has Tom Baker in it, though it's a small role, and Caroline Munro. Though, if one of Harryhausen's films shows on TCM, it by and large causes me to sit and watch parts of them.

    1. I haven't seen "Mysterious Island" in years. Need to revisit that one. The music in that film is really good. "Clash of the Titans" will always have a special place to me, but the pacing in that film is really really slow. It takes forever for the adventure to really kick in. I won't speak of the remake, but you can read my review of it if you like. :)