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For Ray Harryhausen fans, The Golden voyage of Sinbad is an especially rewarding treat. John Phillip Law has the lead role as Sinbad the sailor in this spectacular fantasy/adventure film.
While at sea, Sinbad and his men observe a strange bird like creature flying above them with a shiny object in its talons. One of the crew shoots it down with an arrow. Sinbad retrieves the golden amulet that has landed on the ship’s deck. That night in his cabin, Sinbad is haunted by strange dreams of a dancing girl with an eye tattooed on her palm.
The following day when Sinbad is ashore without his men he meets Prince Koura (Tom Baker. Yeah, Dr. Who) who demands he return the amulet now dangling from Sinbad’s neck. Sinbad refuses and is chased on horseback into town by Koura. Koura cannot enter the town and departs in haste with soldiers in pursuit.
Sinbad is taken to the Grand Vizier (Douglas Wilmer) who explains to him that he is now in the land of Marabia which has been cursed and plagued by the evil dark magician Prince Koura in his quest to rule over the land. The Vizier wears a gold mask covering his entire head as a result of Koura’s dark magic that took away his face. The Vizier goes on to explain that the amulet Sinbad is wearing is part of a whole. There is a similar one belonging to the late Sultan of Marabia kept hidden from Koura. It provides the key to great power and riches. The Vizier joins the two pieces together and while there is still a third piece missing, they’re able to piece together the puzzle of a nautical map on which there is a mysterious island where treasures of youth, riches and power are to be found. Unbeknownst to Sinbad and the Vizier, a homunculus of Koura has been watching and listening to them and now Koura knows what they know.
Sinbad and his men along with the Vizier set sail the following day. A slave girl, Morgiana (Caroline Munro) who Sinbad recognizes from his dream also joins the adventure as does the wastrel son, Haroun (Kurt Christian) of a merchant. It’s a package deal but Haroun also provides some comic relief throughout the adventure.
Meanwhile, Koura and his loyal servant, Achmed (Takis Emmanuel), are trailing Sinbad in the open seas on a ship he has hired. Every time Koura conjures evil spirits to do his bidding he ages and here is where we get to see the first or rather second of Harryhausen’s fabulous creatures. Koura brings to life the wooden figurehead of Sinbad’s ship and commands it to steal the map but not before the creature engages in battle with Sinbad and his crew. It is in this scene and a later fantastic sword fight with a multi-limbed Kali that we see the precursors to the hideous Medusa Harryhausen would later create for cult favorite The Clash of the Titans.
There is also a fight to the death between a one-eyed centaur and a griffin. I told you The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is a visual feast for Harryhausen fans! The handsomely chiseled John Phillip Law and Caroline Munro’s sultry beauty are also a plus. Tom Baker hits the right notes as the exotic and malevolent wizard. Yes, the movie is a throwback to the exotic orientalism of Richard Burton’s 1001 Nights but so what? This is not a cinematic masterpiece nor does it pretend to be. It’s an old time, delightful and FUN fantasy adventure.
To order The Golden Voyage of Sinbad on DVD from either Amazon USA or Amazon UK click on one of the corresponding links below.