Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
This is a wonderful adventure film, whose commitment to imaginative fancy makes it so easily enjoyable, and whose strong direction and excellent production values easily override the B-level acting. After Pelias (Douglas Wilmer) kills the rightful king of Thessaly and takes his throne, the dead king’s infant son Jason is escorted to safety and raised in exile until he returns after twenty years. Reappearing in his home land, Jason announces that he will travel to Colchis to find the legendary golden fleece and bring it back in order to kill the usurper and reclaim his birthright. Along the way he is helped by Zeus (Niall MacGinnis) and Hera (a wonderfully upright Honor Blackman), who live among the gods in a paradise that appears to leave a bunch of toga-clad people with very little to do except sit around and gossip. More fun is to be had down below on Earth, where mortals fight terrifying elements and even scarier beasts, all of them brought to vivid life by Ray Harryhausen’s mind-boggling effects team. The visual tricks for the most part hold up by today’s standards, painstakingly impressive and pulled off so elegantly; Harryhausen considered it his career’s best achievement. Gorgeous cinematography and production design are also a plus, and the dialogue is stronger than you would expect.
Cinematography by Wilkie Cooper
Produced by Charles H. Schneer
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Production Design by Geoffrey Drake
Film Editing by Maurice Rootes