Sometimes you’re able to save enough money and sometimes the right time to buy never comes and when Indicator’s The Sinbad Trilogy went out of print last December, it was the box set that got away. Usually franchises get built around directors, not animators, but there was no animator like Ray Harryhausen. Indicator always said there was a possibility the films would be re-released as standard editions, once the box set sold out, but last month’s announcements made it official! This September all three of Harryhausen’s Sinbad movies will be available for purchase individually, with the same bonus features as before, minus the 80-page booklet. Surprisingly, none of the films give Sinbad an origin story. You’re just dropped into his world and a new adventure begins, but that’s all you need to get swept up in the action and Harryhausen’s monsters provide plenty of that.
The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
Directed by Nathan Juran
Of the three Sinbad movies, Seventh Voyage shows off Harryhausen’s talents the best. Already you’re being treated to your first monster (a cyclops), and the movie’s barely had a chance to start, yet that’s the kind of bar Harryhausen sets. He captures your attention early and never gives it up.
Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews) and Princess Parisa (Kathryn Crosby) are engaged to be married. While their wedding promises to broker peace between their two kingdoms, they’ve genuinely in love, so when Parisa shrinks overnight, Sinbad is determined to break the curse that has made her so small.
Favorite Scene – When Parisa enters a genie’s bottle. Also, the way the movie ends without dragging things out.
Special Features Highlight – This Is Dynamation! (1958)
Dynamation (later Dynarama) was the name given to Harryhausen’s animation process and in this trailer you get to see some of his scenes from Seventh Voyage broken down, including Sinbad’s iconic battle with a skeleton. It’s the visual answer to what you get to hear about verbally in the bonus features “A Look Behind the Voyage” and “Remembering The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.” First you get to watch Mathews learn the choreography with swordsman, Enzo Musumeci-Greco, then you watch him practice it by himself, and finally the skeleton gets added in.
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)
Directed by Gordon Hessler
If Mathew’s Sinbad was noble, John Phillip Law’s Sinbad is selfish, and you know Golden Voyage isn’t having its intended effect when you’re rooting for the bad guy, Koura (Doctor Who’s Tom Baker), to win. It all stems from Sinbad’s actions in the opening sequence. When Koura’s homunculus drops a piece of a medallion on Sinbad’s ship, his crew tells him to throw it overboard, but Sinbad doesn’t listen, nor does he ever thank his crew for saving his life multiple times over the course of competing with Koura for the rest of the pendant.
Originally Golden Voyage was the Sinbad movie I was excited for the most, but Caroline Munro (Captain Kronos) doesn’t get half the role Crosby had in the original movie (sure, Crosby starts out spouting lines like “I’ll dream of dangers… so you can rescue me” but later she’s completely unfazed by her change in size, and helps Sinbad search for the cure). Given similar material Munro would’ve killed but she never gets to move past ‘damsel in distress.’
Favorite Scene – Sinbad’s fight with Harryhausen’s six-armed creature, Kali, whose head bobbing feels like an update on Harryhausen’s snake dance from Seventh Voyage.
Special Features Highlight – Golden Years: Time Traveling with Tom Baker (2017)
Baker’s candid responses makes this interview a guffaw fest, especially when you hear about what transpired to make Law stop speaking to him.
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)
Directed by Sam Wanamaker
Like Golden Voyage, Sinbad and the Eye of the Golden Tiger involves a race but where Golden Voyage felt padded, Tiger picks up the pace, and makes you care about the characters and the race’s outcome. Cursed by his evil stepmother, Zenobia (Margaret Whiting), Prince Kassim (Damien Thomas) needs Sinbad’s help if he wants to become the next Caliph. Luckily, Princess Farah (Jane Seymour) is able to get in touch with Sinbad (Patrick Wayne) and he agrees to help break Zenobia’s spell.
The Sinbad movie that most accentuates Sinbad’s life on the sea (and brings back Golden Voyage‘s Kurt Christian as Zenobia’s son), Tiger also stands out for positioning some of Harryhausen’s monsters as allies instead of antagonists and would be my favorite Sinbad movie if Seventh Voyage wasn’t so matchless.
Favorite Scene – When Zenobia turns herself into a seagull.
Special Features Highlight – The Harryhausen Chronicles (1998)
Narrated by Leonard Nimoy, this feature provides an overview of Harryhausen’s career but is most special for shining a light on Harryhausen’s friendship with Ray Bradbury, whose story, The Beast of 20,000 Fathoms, would become one of Harryhausen’s movies.
Standard, Blu-Ray editions of all three films will available starting September 16th from Indicator.