Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5
USA, 1958. Columbia Pictures, Morningside Productions. Screenplay by Ken Kolb. Cinematography by Wilkie Cooper. Produced by Charles H. Schneer. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Production Design by Gil Parrondo. Film Editing by Edwin H. Bryant, Jerome Thoms.
It’s actually Sinbad’s third and fifth voyages that are leaned upon for narrative content in this exciting and splashy Hollywood adaptation of the stories traced to later editions of the One Thousand and One Nights. Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews) is sailing to Baghdad with his lady love Parisa (Kathryn Grant) on board, their plans are to marry as soon as they arrive. Their trip is interrupted by a stop on the island of Colossa, where they barely escape being killed by a cyclops, and while departing take on board the morally dubious magician Sokurah (Torin Thatcher) who is grateful to be saved but begs Sinbad to turns his boat around: he lost his magic lamp on his way off the island and needs it badly. Sinbad refuses, so after arriving in Baghdad, the magician casts a spell that shrinks Parisa to the size of Tom Thumb, and tells Sinbad that she can only be restored by traveling back to Colossa where the cure for her ailment lies. This was the first major film to popularize the magnificence of Ray Harryhausen’s stop-motion “Dynamation” effects, and the painstaking detail with which he creates mythical creatures and gets them into action is thrilling to behold (yes, it looks dated, and no, it doesn’t matter). The film bears the now-lamentable hallmark of filmmaking of the time, having white actors in brownface playing middle eastern characters, and is genuinely weakened by the poor casting choice of child star Richard Eyer in the role of the magical genie, giving him phenomenal cosmic powers while sounding like he lost his mother in a supermarket. The storytelling and effects would improve in Jason and the Argonauts, but this is still a really charming treat.