Monday, June 04, 2018

Captain Sinbad (1963)

This is an example of how we should never go back and watch movies which were childhood favourites: our memories of them frequently turn out to be quite different from the reality.  Captain Sinbad was a 1963 German fantasy film, presumably intended as a somewhat belated cash in on the RAy Harryhausen effects-driven Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, from 1958.  With its American director and star and international supporting cast, the film was undoubtedly aimed at a global market.  I remember it turning up on UK TV when I was a kid, I couldn'y have been much more than eight, so it must have been the early seventies (I also saw it in colour and we didn't have a colour TV set much before then.  I remember being dazzled by the colourful settings and special effects, which included a multi-headed dragon, giant Rocs and a sorcerer whose arms extended elastically in an attempt to steal a ring from the villain.  It lingered in my memory, but never seemed to turn up on TV again.  At least, not until I was an adult and made the mistake of watching it again.

The magic was definitely gone on that second viewing.  The effects were revealed as shoddy and cut rate.  That dragon, for instance, which, in my memory had been some terrifying creature on a par with a Ray Harryhausen stop motion dinosaur, turned out to be a rubbery, stiffly moving puppet.  The effect with the stretching arm was woefully obvious in its execution and the whole thing seemed disappointingly set bound.  As played by Guy Williams, Sinbad was a bland hero, (just as bland as he'd been Zorro and Lost in Space), lacking any swash, let alone buckle.  Only Pedro Armendariz, (of From Russia, With Love fame), gives a spirited performance as the villain.  It was all hugely disappointing - like when the Wizard of Oz is revealed to just be a man behind a curtain.  That said, the film still had an agreeably dark tone to it and some wonderfully macabre touches - the villain is rendered invulnerable by having his heart kept locked away in a tower guarded by various monsters. The climactic scenes where Sinbad has to fight a giant fist before getting and destroying said heart has a certain surreal and delirious feel to it.  Quite why this trailer is in black and white (despite the announcer boasting that it was in colour), I don't know.  So, here's another, brief, promo for the film in glorious colour:



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