|Harryhausen and some of his models.|
Ray Harryhausen died yesterday at the age of 92. As a tribute, here are our picks for his seven best films:
1. Jason and the Argonauts. The first 45 minutes establishes the backstory for this version of the Greek myth about the Golden Fleece. It's all quite well done, but once our heroes set foot on the island of Bronze, the movie becomes a magical experience, courtesy of Harryhausen's sensational special effects. Every fan has their favorite Harryhausen sequence, but my top two are both from Jason: the capture of the winged Harpies and Jason's dual with the "dragon's teeth"--or as I call it--the breath-taking swordfight with the skeletons.
2. The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. This colorful Arabian nights' adventure has Sinbad (Kerwin Matthews) fighting a two-head roc, a dragon, a skeleton, a four-armed siren, and a cyclops. Plus, Kathryn Grant's princess gets "reduced" to palm size by Torin Thatcher's evil magician. The skeleton fight is terrific--though Harryhausen one-upped himself with the skeleton army in Jason and the Argonauts.
|Battling the giant crab in Mysterious Island.|
4. First Men in the Moon. This entertaining tale of a Victorian space voyage to the Moon is a questionable choice on this list--if one goes strictly by the quantity of Harryhausen's special effects. There are few spectacular set pieces in this H.G. Wells fantasy, but the film is well-made and nicely acted, almost on par with Mysterious Island.
5. One Million Years B.C. Raquel Welch in a fur bikini made the movie famous, but Harryhausen's dinosaurs are what make it memorable. The battle between the Ceratosaurus and the Triceratops is a highlight, although the winged Pterosaur that snatches Raquel is almost as impressive.
|The grown-up Ymir.|
Honorable Mentions: Earth vs. the Flying Saucers; The Golden Voyage of Sinbad; and The Valley of Gwangi.