Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Sinbad Movies

Several movies have been based, usually loosely, on the classic Arabian Fantasy.

1. Sinbad the Sailor US movie (1947). RKO. Pr Stephen Ames. Dir Richard Wallace. Spfx Vernon L Walker, Harold Wellman. Screenplay John Twist. Starring Douglas Fairbanks Jr (Sinbad), Maureen O'Hara (Shireen), Anthony Quinn (Emir), George Tobias (Abbu). 116 mins. Colour.

The 8th voyage. Sinbad and sidekick Abbu come across a dead ship. A Map in the captain's quarters shows the route of Alexander the Great through the Sea of Oman to fabled Deriebah, where he left his treasure. Sinbad encounters mercenary-hearted siren Shireen, who is milking the tyrannous Emir of Daibul as the two plot to discover the route to Deriebah; despite herself, she loses her heart to the Trickster adventurer . . . And so forth.

Fairbanks seeks to emulate the swashbucklery of his father in The Thief of Bagdad (1924), and succeeds in producing a parade of supreme and ultimately tiresome camp, an effect underscored by a script of extreme floridity. Interestingly, STS largely eschews the fantastical: there is implausibility galore, but virtually nothing of the supernatural. [JG]

2. Son of Sinbad US movie (1955). RKO. Pr Robert Sparks. Dir Ted Tetzlaff. Screenplay Jack Pollexfen, Aubrey Wisberg. Starring Mari Blanchard (Kristina), Sally Forrest (Ameer), Vincent Price (Omar Khayyám), Dale Robertson (Sinbad Jr), Lili St Cyr (Nerissa). 88 mins. Colour.

A spoof Arabian Fantasy in which the philandering son of Sinbad the Sailor shares with Omar Khayyám adventures among elements from various Arabian Nights tales, with plenty of opportunities for harem women to appear in what at the time was naughtily little. The Forty Thieves are an Amazon band, descendants of the men whom Ali Baba despatched. The magic lamp is a hypnotizing device which makes the daughter of an old scholar repeat the secret of Greek Fire. Price hams magnificently and some of the jokes are good, but the schoolboy sexism is depressing. [JG]

3. The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad US movie (1958). Columbia/Morningside. Pr Charles H Schneer. Dir Nathan Juran. Spfx Ray Harryhausen. Screenplay Kenneth Kolb. Starring Alfred Brown (Harufa), Richard Eyer (Boranni the Genie), Kathryn Grant (Parisa), Harold Kasket (Sultan of Chandra), Alec Mango (Caliph), Kerwin Mathews (Sinbad), Torin Thatcher (Sokurah). 89 mins. Colour.

Returning to Baghdad with Princess Parisa of Chandra, Sinbad's ship is blown off-course to the Island of Colossa, where he and his men save devious sorcerer Sokurah from a Cyclops, although in the process losing Sokurah's magic lamp and its little-boy Genie to the Monster. In Baghdad, they prepare for Sinbad's marriage to Parisa; but Sokurah, wanting his lamp, miniaturizes her, claiming the sole antidote is a Potion made from arcane ingredients available only on Colossa. Sinbad, best friend Harufa and tiny Parisa set off there with Sokurah, battling with rocs, two cyclopes and a Dragon before finally having Parisa restored and causing the destruction of Sokurah. The genie, who has confessed to Parisa that his dream is to become a Real Boy, is magically rendered such; and he gives the affianced pair the cyclopes' vast treasure as a wedding gift.

TSVOS is really just an excuse for Harryhausen's spfx; the movie proudly boasts itself the first ever in Dynamation, the process of stop-motion animation (> Animated Movies) and mattework used to achieve the miniaturization of Parisa and the interplay of humans with Monsters. In fact, the significant advance was the adaptation of existing techniques to colour.

TSVOS was sequelled by 5. [JG]

4. Captain Sindbad (vt Captain Sinbad) US/German movie (1963). MGM/King Bros. Pr Frank King, Herman King. Dir Byron Haskin. Spfx Augie Lohman, Lee Zavitz. Vfx Tom Howard. Screenplay Harry Relis, Samuel B West. Starring Pedro Armendariz (El Kerim), Heidi Bruhl (Jana), Abraham Sofaer (Galgo), Guy Williams (Sindbad). 88 mins. Colour.

Sindbad and Jana, Princess of Baristan, are in love; but the tyrannical de facto ruler of Baristan, El Kerim, wants her for himself. El Kerim is a tough foe: he is invincible because his heart no longer resides in his chest but at the top of a distant tower defended by a cordon of vicious Monsters (>>> Koshchei). Occasionally assisted by tipsy court magician Galgo, Sindbad survives perils including – there is some cross-cultural leakage in this movie – the gladiatorial arena and a fight with the hydra to see El Kerim's heart destroyed and win Jana. The spfx are, like the screenplay, distinctly ropy but carried through with such joyousness that it hardly matters; the acting is generally less convincing. [JG]

5. The Golden Voyage of Sinbad UK movie (1973). Morningside/Columbia. Pr Ray Harryhausen, Charles H Schneer. Dir Gordon Hessler (1930-2012). Spfx Harryhausen. Screenplay Brian Clemens. Starring Tom Baker (Prince Koura), Kurt Christian (Haroun), Takis Emmanuel (Achmed), John Phillip Law (Sinbad), Caroline Munro (Margiana), Martin Shaw (Rachid), Douglas Wilmer (Grand Vizier). 105 mins. Colour.

Sequel to 3 and forerunner of 8. One of Sinbad's sailors shoots at a flying Homunculus, which drops an Amulet onto the ship. Donning the amulet, Sinbad sees Visions of a dancer with a single eye tattooed in her hand, and of a dark sorcerer. The amulet is in fact merely one-third of a Plot Coupon: united, the three form a sea chart (> Maps) and also, if presented to the Fountain of Destiny on Lemuria, grant the bearer youth (> Fountain of Youth), the Shield of Darkness (i.e., Invisibility) and the Crown of Untold Riches. En route to gaining the last of these, Sinbad picks up the dancing girl, alternately thwarts and is thwarted by the sorcerer Koura, fights an idol of the Goddess Kali (one sword in each of its six hands), escapes Human Sacrifice, sees the Griffin of Good killed by the one-eyed Centaur of Evil (which Sinbad then slays), kills Koura and gains a righteous Vizier a sultanate. In short, the plot is hokum, but enjoyable hokum; the spfx vary between brilliant and risible. Two things stand out. Koura's performance of Magic (aided by the Demons of Darkness) tires, pains and prematurely ages him: it is pleasing, in this level of movie, to see magic coming with a price attached. And there is a very striking scene, where acting and spfx combine superbly, in which Koura activates, from a mandrake root and drops of his own blood, a new homunculus (to which, it proves, he is joined by bonds of sympathetic Magic). [JG]

6. Adventures of Sinbad (vt Sinbad the Sailor) Japanese Animated Movie (1975). Toei. Pr Hiroshi Okawa. Dir Taiji Yabushita. Screenplay Morio Kita, Osamu Tezuka. No other credits given. 82 mins. Colour.

Sinbad and his little friend Ali find an old man dying on the beach. He gives them a Map to a faraway Island where an underground cave is filled with jewels, guarded by Demons. With Ali's kitten, they stow away on a merchantman and reach a foreign land where a sinister vizier plots to marry the beautiful princess. Imprisoned, Sinbad catches the princess's eye and is released by her; her pet dove gives Ali a magic peacock feather which he rides like a magic carpet to freedom. Fleeing herself, she joins their Quest; the vizier sends his winged minion, Hellbat (very like the character Fidget in Disney's The Great Mouse Detective [1986]), to spy on them, and pursues. After various adventures, all reach the enchanted island. At last, Sinbad gains not jewels but the love of the princess.

Although the animation is cheap, stylized and occasionally over-cute, it has humour, a fair deal of charm and some moments of great beauty. [JG]

7. The Adventures of Sinbad the Sailor (ot Pohady Tisice a Jedne Noci; vt Tales of 1001 Nights) Czechoslovak Animated Movie (1975). Dir Karel Zeman. 87 mins. Colour.

We have been unable to obtain a viewing copy of this movie, whose plot seems suspiciously similar to 6's. This may be a ghost title born of filmographic confusion. [JG]

8. Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger UK movie (1977). Columbia/Andor. Pr Ray Harryhausen, Charles H Schneer. Dir Sam Wanamaker. Spfx Harryhausen. Screenplay Beverley Cross. Novelization Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger * (1976) by John Ryder Hall (William Rotsler; > SFE). Starring Kurt Christian (Rafi), Taryn Power (Dione), Nadim Sawalha (Hassan), Jane Seymour (Farah), Damian Thomas (Kassim), Patrick Troughton (Melanthius), Patrick Wayne (Sinbad), Margaret Whiting (Zenobia). 113 mins. Colour.

The sequel to 5. Sinbad arrives in port to seek marriage with Princess Farah. He discovers her father, the Caliph, has died, and that the coronation of her brother Kassim has been thwarted by Kassim's and Farah's wicked Stepmother, the Witch Zenobia, who has by black Magic turned the rightful heir into a baboon in hopes of installing her oily son Rafi in his place. Sinbad realizes the only person who can help restore the status quo is the Greek alchemist Melanthius. With Farah and baboon in tow, Sinbad tracks down Melanthius and his beautiful daughter Dione. The alchemist tells them they must gain Apollo's help at the Shrine of the Four Elements in far Hyperborea. There they duly venture, beset by various Monsters and pursued by a Shapeshifting, Potion-swigging Zenobia with Rafi and her giant Minotaur-like automaton. With the help of a friendly troglodyte our heroes enter the shrine, pass the baboon through the light of Apollo to restore Kassim, have a stand-off with Zenobia and Rafi, and flee for their lives as the shrine crumbles about them.

The hokum as usual, but lacking the verve of 3 and 5. The monsters are remarkably unconvincing; when a savage giant walrus waddles into the attack, no serious fantasy-lover can fail to rock with laughter. But this is not the only dated aspect of the movie: sexism is another. Although Whiting is permitted a certain villainous pantomime brio, Power and Seymour are allowed to be nothing but bimbos, often scantily clad (and capable of changing costumes mid-trek despite having no visible suitcases). Harryhausen and Schneer were to have a swansong in Clash of the Titans (1981), but in reality SATEOTT was the end of their line. [JG]

9. The Adventures of Sinbad UK Animated Movie (1979). Voice actor Jon Pertwee (Narrator). 47 mins. Colour.

Evidently a minor production; we have not been able to obtain a viewing copy. A magic lamp has been stolen by the Old Man of the Sea; Sinbad regains it and thereby earns the love of a princess. [JG]

10. Sinbad of the Seven Seas Italian/US movie (1989). Cannon. Pr Enzo G Castellari. Dir Castellari. Vfx Gruppo Memmo Milano Studio 4. Spfx Cataldo Galiano. Screenplay Tito Carpi, Castellari, Ian Danby, Egle Guarino. Starring Lou Ferrigno (Sinbad), Alessandra Martines (Alina), John Steiner (Jaffar), Roland Wybenga (Ali). 93 mins. Colour.

This chaotically scripted mishmash of themes from Arabian Fantasy, packed with non sequiturs, claims to be based on "The Thousand-and-Second Tale of Scheherazade" (1845) by Edgar Allan Poe, but is not. To retrieve the magical gems that maintain prosperity in Basra – thereby restoring the Caliph, thwarting the usurping Devil-worshipping vizier Jaffar and uniting Prince Ali and Princess Alina – Sinbad takes the advice of an Oracle and Quests with a crew including a Chinese Samurai (sic) to Skull Island (he defeats a rock Monster), to the Isle of the Warrior Women (he is seduced by the mind-Vampire Queen of the Amazons) and to the Isle of the Dead (he battles with Ghost warriors and – as the movie suddenly opts for humour – with the help of a martial-arts expert and her Wizard father defeats gangs of flesh-eating Zombies and a slime monster). Back in Basra, he bests a demonically conjured evil Twin of himself. Some excellent sets and spfx are wasted in a mess of poor dubbing, appalling dialogue and hammy acting, not least from Ferrigno, better-known as tv's Incredible Hulk. [JG]

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.