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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

VHS Vednesday: The Golden Voyage of Sinbad

THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD (1974). Directed by Gordon Hessler. Starring John Phillip Law, Caroline Munro, and Tom Baker.

Generally, I've been focusing my "VHS Vednesday" reviews on pictures that are not (to my knowledge) available on DVD yet...but this week, I'll make an exception in honor of John Phillip Law, by looking back at my favorite movie of his. (I may take a look at one of the embarrassments of his career in the future, but right now, I'll celebrate one of his triumphs.)
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, a follow-up to the classic 1958 swashbuckling fantasy The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, stars the handsome, charismatic Law as the legendary sailor of the title. His adventure begins when one of his crewmen shoots at an odd flying creature, causing it to drop a mysterious golden tablet...a "trinket" coveted by the wicked sorcerer Koura (Tom Baker). Arriving in the land of Marabia, Sinbad is entrusted by the masked, disfigured Grand Vizier (Douglas Wilmer) with the task of protecting the amulet and finding its counterparts, which together will form a map to the legendary Fountain of Destiny. Joined in his quest by the Vizier's callow son (Kurt Christian) and a beautiful slave girl (Caroline Munro) with a strange tattoo of an eye on the palm of her hand, Sinbad sets out to complete the map, while battling the supernatural forces set upon him by Koura.
With no disrespect towards the talented cast, the true stars of the movie are the stop-motion creations of the legendary special-effects artist Ray Harryhausen (who also co-produced the film). The creatures, ranging from cyclopean centaur to a living figurehead to the multi-armed statue of Kali, are all visually stunning as only Harryhausen's animations can be.
Who's Leaving This Off Their Resume?
While all of the cast members acquit themselves admirably (particularly Tom Baker, who plays his villainous role with sinister glee) and have no reason to be embarrassed by this project, there is one great actor who literally did leave this off his resume: Robert Shaw makes an uncredited cameo as the Oracle of All Knowledge, a spectral disembodied head delivering vital yet cryptic information in rhyming couplets. With his face concealed beneath grotesque make-up and his voice distorted, the unrecognizable Shaw accepted this role as a consolation for not being cast as Sinbad.

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1 Comments:

At 12:33 AM, Blogger RAB said...

Yeah, this is a good 'un.

This movie was reputedly how Tom Baker was cast in Doctor Who -- the story goes that the producers of the tv show saw it in a Saturday afternoon matinee in a cinema full of kids, and were struck by the way he made Koura so sympathetic and likeable that the kids were cheering for him even though he was supposed to be the villain. So it all worked out very well for him...

 

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