Thursday, October 24, 2019

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger

Patrick Wayne as Sinbad.
Released in 1977, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger isn't as well regarded as the other two installments in Ray Harryhausen's Sinbad trilogy. Personally, I find it as good as The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), but not as magical as The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958).

The story begins with powerful sorceress Zenobia turning Prince Kassim, the heir to the throne of Charak, into a baboon. If he's not restored to human form before the end of seven moons, he will remain a monkey--and Zenobia's son will become the caliph. Thus, Sinbad (Patrick Wayne) and Princess Farah (Jane Seymour) set off to find the legendary Melanthius, the one person who may be able to help the prince.

Jane Seymour and the baboon.
It's a slight plot, but it provides an adequate canvas for Harryhausen's special effects. Sinbad battles demons with skeleton-like bodies and bug eyes, a giant walrus, a sabre-toothed tiger, and a giant wasp. The latter is identified as a giant mosquito by one of the characters and on the film's soundtrack, but Harryhausen calls it a wasp in his Film Fantasy Scrapbook and it certainly looks like one. There's also a bronze minotaur-like creature called the Minaton and a troglodyte that battles the big tiger. Harryhausen also animated the baboon, which looks amazingly real.

Sinbad tries to help Trog fight the sabre-toothed tiger.

Taryn Power.
Patrick Wayne, one of John's sons, seems a bit wooden in the opening scenes, but he gets better as the movie goes along. The supporting cast includes Tyrone Power's daughter, Taryn, as Melanthius's telepathic daughter. As her father, Patrick Troughton adds some class and provides an interesting Doctor Who connection. Both Troughton and Tom Baker, who played the villain in Golden Voyage, portrayed Doctor Who on British television.

 At a budget of $3.5 million, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger was Harryhausen's second-most expensive film (surpassed only by the later Clash of the Titans). Despite that, some of the routine special effects (e.g., close-ups of the actors in exotic places) look subpar. The stop-action animation doesn't disappoint, though the giant walrus may be my least-favorite Harryhausen creature (Ray considered using a Yeti in that scene--an idea that appeals to me!).

As trilogies go, the three Ray Harryhausen-Charles Schneer Sinbad films still hold their appeal as colorful, fantastical adventures. I'm sure there are cinephiles who prefer modern digital special effects, but I'll take a Harryhausen stop-motion creature over a Jurassic World  dinosaur anytime. They just have more personality!

4 comments:

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  2. No kidding! That's Tyrone Power's daughter??? Who would have guessed. "Eye of the Tiger" is entertaining for its plot and atmosphere but I, too, prefer The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

    Even though the walrus in this one isn't a memorable Harryhausen creature, I thought the stop-motion filming of it was the most life-like of any of the creatures in the picture.

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  3. It will never rank at the top of the films, but give me a bowl of popcorn and a place to put my feet up, and I will happily watch it any time.

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  4. I've not seen this film, but the comment about the walrus had me searching online for images...and I found this fab compilation of Harryhausen creatures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9kmjW73-v4

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