Tuesday, October 1, 2013

R.I.P.: Ray Harryhausen, Part III

Ray Harryhausen: 29 June 1920 — 7 May 2013

Go here for R.I.P.: Ray Harryhausen, Part II

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
(1958, dir. Nathan Juran)
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad includes one of our favorite Harryhausen scenes: the dancing cobra woman who almost strangles herself to death. The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is Nathan Juran's second film with Harryhausen, and Harryhausen's first full-length feature in full color — as well as the first of an eventual three Sinbad films he would end up making for Columbia. Fifty years later in 2008, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the Library of Congress and inducted into the United States National Film Registry. Despite its title, however, the film does not narrate Sinbad's 7th (and final) voyage as told in the Persian tales, which deals with bird people, devils and Allah.
The plot of Harryhausen's film, as explained at the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review: "Sinbad the sailor (the gay Kerwin Mathews [8 Jan 1926 – 5 July 2007] of The Pirates of Blood River [1962 / Trailer from Hell], Panic in Bangkok [1964 / French trailer], Un killer per sua maestà [1968 / groovy score], Barquero [1970 / trailer] and Nightmare in Blood [1977 / trailer]) and his crew come upon the island of Colossa, where they meet the sorcerer Sokurah (Torin Thatcher of Affair in Trinidad [1952 / trailer]). They are attacked by a giant cyclops. Sokurah saves them from the cyclops but in doing so loses his magic lamp. Back in Baghdad, Sinbad plans to marry his beloved, the Princess Parisa (perky Kathryn Grant, who left the film biz after marrying Bing Crosby). When the Caliph (Alec Mango of The Strange World of Planet X (1958 / trailer), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967 / trailer) and Ken Russell's Gothic [1986]) refuses Sokurah's entreaties to mount an expedition to return to Colossa to get his lamp, Sokurah secretly casts a spell that reduces Parisa to a few inches tall. When asked for his help, Sokurah says he needs roc egg shell to reverse the spell and so Sinbad is forced to mount a return expedition to Colossa. However, once the expedition is underway, Sinbad faces the perils of a mutinous crew, Sokurah's treachery, and, once on the island, the cylops, the roc and a dragon."
If the cyclops looks slightly familiar, it's because he's half-Ymir. The scene of Sinbad swordfighting a skeleton was so popular, Harryhausen ended up expanding it for his later film Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Composer Bernard Herrmann supplied the excellent score to the film, the first of four Harryhausen films in total that he would work on.
Alt Film points out the fact that "There is no logic to much of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, but it is a hoot — without an ounce of pretension in it. Who cares if the magician, who can animate skeletons, would seem to have no real use for a genie? Who cares if the genie could have wiped out the monsters and magician easily, if commanded, since he so easily moves the prolific cyclops' treasure? Who cares if the Princess' father is ready to declare war on the Caliph of Baghdad for shrinking his daughter, when clearly the magician is to blame? And who cares if the acting is all 100% cheeseball?"
For all the faults in the script and acting, we here at A Wasted Life agree with TV Guide when they say that "Stop-motion animation master Ray Harryhausen's first color film is also one of the greatest achievements in fantasy filmmaking [...]." The 7th Voyage of Sinbad may be an obvious kiddy film, but for that it is also the first of Harryhausen's truly magically bewitching films — see it as a child, and it will always remain one of your favorite films.

The Three Worlds of Gulliver
(1960, writ & dir. Jack Sher)
Charles H. Schneer and Harryhausen's next project was this loose adaptation of Jonathan Swift's book and, like most adaptations, the movie is aimed primarily to kids, the satire set aside for humor, and only half the story is told. And though the title infers three lands and adventures, there are really only two — the land of Lilliput and the land of Brobdingnag — while the third world is that of simple, ol' England. (The movie itself was filmed in Spain.) Director Sher wrote the script with screenplay author Arthur A. Ross, whose notable credits includes the guilty pleasure The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock (1959 / trailer) and such favorites as Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954 / trailer) and its forgotten second sequel The Creature Walks Among Us (1956 / trailer).
The plot of The Three Worlds of Gulliver, as explained at Video Vacuum: "Kerwin Matthews (of Maniac [1963 / trailer], OSS 117 se déchaîne [1963 / French trailer] and Octaman [1971 / full movie]) stars as Gulliver, a struggling doctor who leaves his materialistic fiancée (June Thorburn, who died in a plane crash on 4 Nov 1967) behind to go on a seafaring voyage in search of wealth. In the land of Lilliput, he's tied up on the beach by a race of tiny people before being hailed as their savior. Eventually he's used as a pawn for war and has to make tracks when the idiot king (Basil Sydney of The Hands of Orlac [1960 / trailer]) accuses him of treason. Gulliver then heads off to the island of Brobdingnag which is populated by nothing but giants where he is reunited with his fiancée, who lives in the king's dollhouse. Gulliver is the pride of the king's court until he is branded as a witch by the king's indignant sorcerer (Charles Lloyd Pack of Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell [1973 / trailer], The Man Who Haunted Himself [1970 / trailer], The Reptile [1966 / trailer] and Curse of the Demon [1957 / trailer]) and has to battle an enormous squirrel (!) and a giant crocodile in order to escape."
Glumdalclitch, the Brobdingnag peasant girl who first finds Gulliver and then helps the tiny couple escape, is played by Sherry Alberoni of the abysmal Sisters of Death (1972/77 / full film) and Cyborg 2087 (1966 / trailer). The Three Worlds of Gulliver features very little of Harryhausen's trademark stop-motion effects (only two scenes, one of which really isn't all that top notch), but for that there is a lot of for-its-time excellent effects when it comes to the scaled cinematography and interplay of differently sized characters. Too bad about the musical interludes, however...

Mysterious Island
(1961, dir. Cy Endfield)
Based loosely on Jules Verne's novel Mysterious Island, Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen's next film was shot in Spain and England, and unlike The Three Worlds of Gulliver, features a fair share of Harryhausen's trademark stop-motion effects. Among those who worked on the script were Crane Wilbur, whose career began as the lead male in The Perils of Pauline (1914 / Chapter 1); he went on to write the screenplays to, among others, Crime Wave (1954 / trailer), He Walked by Night (1948 / full film), The Mad Magician (1954 / trailer / full film) and House of Wax (1953 / trailer), as well as to direct the scandal film Tomorrow's Children (1934 / full film) and the Vincent Price fave, The Bat (1959 / trailer / full film).
A Wasted Life already took a look at Mysterious Island in our career review of Herbert Lom, where we wrote: "Cy Endfield was a US director who made his directorial debut on Poverty Row at Monogram with Gentleman Joe Palooka (1946), but his two socially critical film noirs The Sound of Fury (1950) and The Underworld Story (1950) espoused some sentiments that drew the attention of the HUAC, which even denounced the former of the two films as Un-American. Named as a 'sympathizer,' Endfield decided to resettle in the Old World, where he continued his career and, among others, directed this movie inspired by the Jules Verne book of the same name. The third known film version of the book, Endfield's version features the always enjoyable special effects and stop-motion animation of Ray Harryhausen, while Herbert Lom is on hand as Captain Nemo. The World of Mr Satanism [a website now defunct] offers the following synopsis: 'Some Civil War cats swipe a balloon, but they end up blowing clear across the U.S. and landing on — that's right — a mysterious island. They get attacked by a giant crab, giant bees, and an... emu... or something. What's really weird though is that everything they need — a compass, tools, guns, a telescope, even pussy — just keeps washing up on shore. Finally it turns out it's all the work of Captain Nemo (Herbert Lom), the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954 / trailer) guy! Well except for the pussy, that was just dumb luck. In the end Captain Nemo outfits everybody with scuba gear (Made out of giant seashells. Duh.), laser rifles, and high-speed internet access so they can raise a sunken pirate ship and get the fuck outta Dodge before — what else — the volcano erupts. This movie's kind of ridiculous if you stop and think about it, but between all the kick-ass monsters and the main chick's amazing legs chances are you probably won't.'"
The "main chick" is played by Beth Rogan (pictured below), who pretty much disappeared after Mysterious Island, while the MILF is played by Joan Greenwood, also found in Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949 / trailer), Tom Jones (1963 / trailer), The Uncanny (1977 / trailer) and Paul Morrissey's The Hound of the Baskervilles (1978 / trailer).

Jason and the Argonauts
(1963, dir. Don Chaffey)

"Some people say Casablanca or Citizen Kane... I say Jason and the Argonauts is the greatest film ever made!"
Tom Hanks, 1992

The plot, as according to the Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Film Review: "King Pelias (Douglas Wilmer of The Vengeance of Fu Manchu [1967 / German trailer] and The Brides of Fu Manchu [1966]) invades Thessaly, putting King Arista (Jack Gwillim of The Monster Squad [1987 / trailer] and The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb [1964 / trailer]) and his two daughters to the sword. Arista's son Jason (Todd Armstrong) survives and sets out to regain his father's throne. Because one of Arista's daughters prayed to Hera (Honor Blackman of Cockneys vs Zombies [2012 / trailer], The Cat and the Canary [1978] and Fright [1971 / trailer]) before she was killed, Zeus (Niall MacGinnis of Torture Garden [1967 / trailer] and Island of Terror [1966 / trailer]) decrees that Hera may come to the aid of Jason — but only five times. Jason decides to go forth on a quest for the Golden Fleece, which has the power to bring peace and rid the land of sickness. With Hera's help, Jason builds the ship The Argo, holds a games to select a crew and then sets forth on a journey to the island of Colchis. It becomes a journey through which Jason and his crew encounter many amazing creatures."
Is there anyone in the world who saw this movie as a child who does not hold it in high esteem? Those who didn't see it as a kid often tend to find the film less impressive, but for us here at A Wasted Life, Jason and the Argonauts is pure movie magic — and an insanely influential film as well.
It is also the first of Harryhausen's films that was not part of a double film; in the US, Columbia managed to release it as an A-feature in better theatres. Filmed in Italy and England, the handsome but second-rate Todd Armstrong who played the tile hero ended up being dubbed by British actor Tim Turner (of The Haunted Strangler [1958 / trailer] and The Mummy's Shroud [1967 / trailer]), while Nancy Kovak (of Diary of a Madman [1963 / trailer], seen in a bikini above), who played the hubba-hubba Medea, was dubbed by Eva Haddon. (The young and sexy Medea of this movie, needless to say, is still a far cry away from the vengeful and bitter Medea of later years who, dumped by her husband Jason in favor of Glauce, the young and sexy daughter of the King of Corinth, kills not only Glauce but her own two sons fathered by Jason, Mermeros and Pheres.... but then, Harryhausen's whole take on the story of the Argonauts is nothing if not a rather free adaptation of the myth.)
As popular and as fondly regarded as the movie is nowadays, the initial critical reaction was not all that positive, as can be seen by what the NY Times had to say: "The Argo, carrying Jason and the Argonauts, splashed into Loew's State yesterday in the wake of H.M.S. Bounty, and for our money, it sank. This absurd, unwieldy adventure — if that's the word — is no worse, but certainly no better, than most of its kind. The ingredients are the usual color, milling hordes of warriors, royal hanky-panky laced with historical or mythological footnotes, monsters, magic and carefully exposed limbs and torsos. [...] The fleece-minded hero, played by Todd Armstrong, and the heroine, Nancy Kovack, stay pretty well draped throughout. Mr. Armstrong in fact, seems spindly compared to some 'beefcake' predecessors. To the drone of some bleak dialogue, the scenes shift from one hairbreadth crisis to another. Most of them involve miniature settings and magnified props. Some scenes, such as the one where the tiny Argo is menaced by a towering giant, are effective. [...] In one comic interlude Jason and his pals battle some rickety sword-swinging skeletons. [...]"
Personally, we think that the critic at the NY Times was having hemorrhoidal problems the day he saw the film.



First Men in the Moon
(1964, dir. Nathan Juran)
"My concern is with the men of violence, the men who kill. Soon others will be coming from Earth. Our galleries will be strewn with dead."
The Grand Lunar

Harryhausen's only film in widescreen. Another film, so typical in its attitude, in which foreign creatures that desire to preserve their life are the bad guys simply because the threat they face is human. It seems it is OK for us to kill that which threatens, but not for others to do so, especially if we are the ones who are the threat.
Also typical of the time, though the first group to go from earth to (and into) the moon consists of two men and a woman, the mandatory female interest isn't worth acknowledging in the title. Nathan Juran, of 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957) and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), returns to direct his third and last Harryhausen film, this time based on one of H.G. Wells' lesser-known science fiction novels, which is actually also the first of his novels to ever have been directly adapted for film: The First Men in the Moon, made way back in 1919 by the long forgotten Bruce Gordon and the unknown J.L.V. Leigh. That ancient B&W silent is now considered lost, and is even listed as one of the British Film Institute's 75 Most Wanted lost films.
To use the plot synopsis to the Harryhausen film written by Lee Horton (Leeh@tcp.co.uk) at imdb: "The world is delighted when a spacecraft containing a crew made up of the world's astronauts lands on the moon, they think for the first time. But the delight turns to shock when the astronauts discover an old British flag and a document declaring that the moon is taken for Queen Victoria proving that the astronauts were not the first men on the moon. On Earth, an investigation team finds the last of the Victorian crew — a now aged Arnold Bedford (Edward Judd of Island of Terror [1966 / trailer]) and he tells them the story of how he and his girlfriend, Katherine Callender (Martha Hyer of Picture Mommy Dead [1966 / German trailer] and Abbott and Costello Go to Mars [1953 / trailer]), meet up with an inventor, Joseph Cavor (Lionel Jeffries of Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? [1972 / trailer] and The Revenge of Frankenstein [1958 / trailer]), in 1899. Cavor has invented Cavorite, a paste that will allow anything to deflect gravity and he created a sphere that will actually take them to the moon. Taking Arnold and accidentally taking Katherine they fly to the moon where, to their total amazement, they discover a bee-like insect population who take an unhealthy interest in their Earthly visitors..."
While some people tend to find the film less than exceptional — Ozus's World Movie Reviews: "A flat schoolboy sci-fi adventure film [...that...] relies on the Ray Harryhausen special effects to overcome the absurd plot and the only serviceable acting by the bland thesps. It's directed at a slow clip and without any fire [...]" — most tend to find it (or at least its second half) enjoyable. To quote Cult Reviews: "I was already preparing for a vastly entertaining and completely relaxing sci-fi adventure. What I didn't expect or even secretly hoped for, actually, was that First Men in the Moon would be this much shameless fun! Literally from start to finish, this over-enthusiast British adaptation of Wells' novel is a fast-paced, comical, exhilarating and unpretentious camp fest. Every aspect about this film simply provokes a big fat smile on your face, whether it's Lionel Jeffries' over-the-top nutty scientist performance, Harryhausen's stupendous moon caterpillar creation or just the complete negligence of all the most basic laws of science."

One Million Years B.C.
(1966, dir. Don Chaffey)
The director of Harryhausen's Jason and the Argonauts, Don Chaffey, returns for his second and last Harryhausen project, the classic we all love featuring the beautiful Raquel Welch, One Million Years B.C., which also just happens to be Harryhausen's only film ever for Hammer. It was a huge hit and Hammer, ever one to milk a cow dry, eventually went on to do three more cave girl films, Prehistoric Women (1968 / trailer) with Martine Beswick, When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970 / trailer) with Victoria Vetri, and Creatures the World Forgot (1971 / trailer) with Julie Ege; the last film was likewise directed by Chaffey.
One Million Years B.C. itself is a remake of a 1940 American film of the same name (aka The Cave Dwellers [5 minutes]) starring Victor Mature, Carole Landis (who O.D.ed on purpose in 1948) and Lon Chaney, Jr (of The House of Frankenstein [1944] and Dracula Vs. Frankenstein [1970]). Both versions totally cast aside scientific fact and not only have the cave babes wear make-up and have shaved pits and legs, but also put dinos and cave babes on the planet at the same time; the later version, without doubt, has both a better cast and better effects and bathing suits.
For the US cinema release, a full nine minutes were cut so as not to offend the prudish masses, including the mandatory cave girl dance, here performed by the exotic Martine Beswick (of Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde [1971]). Interesting pieces of trivia: Raquel Welch was not the first choice to play "Loana the Fair One"; Hammer went for Ursula Andress first, but she turned it down. As for Raquel, her grunts in the film are dubbed by someone else, namely voice actress Nikki Van der Zyl.
A Full Tank of Gas explains the film's appeal: "One Million Years B.C. is one of those movies that holds a place in the hearts of men of a certain age. We came to it as small boys, enthralled by Ray Harryhausen's dinosaurs, but on repeated viewings [...] we came to appreciate more the luscious Raquel Welch (of Hannie Caulder [1971 / trailer]) running around in the manufactured shadows of those make-believe monsters, her ample bosom heaving within the confines of her fur bikini. It's an outfit that's achieved almost iconic status, and there were few women who could fill it out in quite the way that Ms. Welch could…"
The plot, as explained by TCM: "In prehistoric times, Tumak (John Richardson of Eyeball [1975 / trailer https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbB0u8Fc0Sk], Torso [1973 / trailer], Frankenstein 80 [1972 / German trailer] and Black Sunday [1960 / trailer]) of the Rock People violently quarrels with his father (Robert Brown of Demons of the Mind [1972 / trailer] and The Masque of the Red Death [1964]) and is banished from his tribe. After escaping from an attack by a giant lizard and a brontosaurus, he reaches an ocean and collapses on the beach. He is found by the Shell People, a tribe considerably more advanced than his own. They nurse him back to health, and when he kills an allosaurus, they treat him as a member of their tribe. But he fights with the leader and is once more banished. Loana (Welch), a young woman who has fallen in love with him, decides to accompany him into the desert. After witnessing a fight between a triceratops and a ceratosaurus, they make their way to the caves of the Rock People. While Loana is teaching Tumak to swim, she is carried off in the claws of a pterodactyl and then dropped into the sea when the huge bird encounters another of its kind. She makes her way back to the Shell People and persuades some of them to return with her to Tumak's tribe. But they are attacked by the Rock People, and the fighting ends only when a giant volcano suddenly erupts. As the earth cracks and molten lava pours over the rocks, many members of both tribes are killed. Loana and Tumak join the other survivors in beginning a new life as the shadow of a huge mushroom cloud darkens the horizon."
For the first and only time, Harryhausen supplemented his stop-motion dinosaurs with an occasional real creature (iguanas and a spider).
 As an extra: Raquel Welch — Space Girl Dance:

The Valley of Gwangi
(1969, dir. Jim O'Connolly)

Harryhausen's last dinosaur film, and proved to be rather unsuccessful — perhaps, in part, because it was released as part of a double bill with a biker film and thus never found its true audience: The Valley of Gwangi is very much a kiddy film.
Of its three main stars, James Franciscus, Richard Carlson and Gila Golan, the movie was the feature-film swansong for Golan and the penultimate for Carlson (his final film, the ridiculous Elvis Presley vehicle A Change of Habit [1969 / trailer], was released in the USA two months after this one). Director Jim O'Connolly was originally a producer of low budget English crime programmers, but by 1963, with The Hi-Jackers, he took up direction as well; his best known directorial efforts are probably this Harryhausen film here; Berserk (1967 / trailer), with Michael Gough; Horror on Snape Island (1972 / trailer), with Jill Haworth; and his last, Mistress Pamela (1974).
Nominally a "weird western" flick, we here at A Wasted Life were not bowled over by The Valley of Gwangi when we finally saw it as an adult, as you can tell by our review here.
The plot, according to TV Guide, which is the opinion that this "movie contains some of the most breathtaking stop-motion sequences ever put on film": "[...] Set in a small Mexican town in the year 1912, the story places circus promoter Franciscus in a strange valley where time has stopped and prehistoric creatures still live — creatures that he and his men stumble across while trying to capture a tiny horse (believed extinct 50 million years ago), which has turned up in the village. What the little animal leads them to is a giant, ferocious allosaur which the cowboys try to lasso (this scene stands among Harryhausen's finest moments). After several run-ins with the beast (and other prehistoric creatures, including a pteranodon and a styracosaur), Franciscus and his men eventually subdue the dinosaur and take it back to the circus to display. Of course, the monster escapes [...] and wreaks havoc on the Mexican town before meeting its doom in a burning cathedral. [...] Well worth a look."

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad
(1974, dir. Gordon Hessler)


"You pace the deck like a caged beast, for one who enjoys the hashish you should be more at peace."
Sinbad (John Phillip Law)

After 15 years and the flop that is The Valley of Gwangi, Harryhausen returned with a reduced budget (not that one sees it) to Sinbad for The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, which we here at A Wasted Life simply think is one fucking fabulous film — and not just because we still sometimes fantasize of a three way with John Phillip Law and Carolina Munro in their prime. No, their hotness alone is not the reason we love the movie: The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is simply an excellently made kiddy film that truly transcends all ages and that is a total hoot to watch and that also just happens to feature some of the best Harryhausen effects made. We're particularly partial to the battle with the boat figurehead and the six-armed statue of Kali, the latter of which Violet Books says "is one of the best things Harryhausen ever created."
Not that everyone agrees, however; the Video Vacuum, for example, is of the opinion that "All in all, the best special effect in the film was Munro and her heavenly bosom." And her bosom is indeed an ever-present aspect of the film... Of the rest of the cast, Tom Baker (of The Mutations [1974]) excels as Koura, the main villain of the film, and those with good eyes might recognize an uncredited Robert Shaw as the Oracle of All Knowledge.
Director Gordon Hessler, who eventually went on to do the hilariously culty TV movie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978 / credits), might have seemed an odd choice to direct a kiddy film as most of his prior films had primarily been horror — among others, Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971 / trailer), with Herbert Lom; Cry of the Banshee (1970 / trailer); Scream and Scream Again (1970 / trailer) and The Oblong Box (1969 / trailer) — but as Ferdy on Film says, "[...] his subtly oneiric take on Harryhausen's visions is loving and rich."

Miklós Rózsa — Prelude (The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad):

The plot, as explained by Foster on Film: "Sinbad (John Phillip Law of Night Train to Terror [1985]) finds himself in possession of a golden tablet, which combined with one held by the Vizier of Marabia (Douglas Wilmer of The Vampire Lovers [1970 / trailer]), forms two thirds of a map to great riches and magical powers. The two set out to claim these treasures, along with a beautiful, tattooed slave girl, Margiana (Caroline Munro of Captain Kronos — Vampire Hunter (1974 / trailer) Maniac [1980 / trailer] and Starcrash [1978 / trailer]), and Sinbad’s loyal crew. Complicating the mission are monsters, savages, and the evil sorcerer Koura (Tom Baker), who wants the items for himself."
In his review of The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, Foster also points out the following: "So many filmmakers fail to understand that the villain is more important than the hero. A good villain makes a film, and Koura can join the ranks of Dracula (Lugosi's), Sir Guy of Gisbourne, Darth Vader, Hans Gruber, Hannibal Lector, and Agent Smith at the top of their profession."

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger 
(1977, dir. Sam Wanamaker [14 June 1919 — 18 Dec 1993])

"I've never seen a black man turn white before."
Hassan (Nadim Sawalha)

The success of The Golden Voyage of Sinbad made Columbia Pictures salivate, so even while the movie was still in the theatres work began on the next Sinbad film, which had the working title of Sinbad at the World's End. Originally, it was even planned that John Phillip Law should return as Sinbad, but the Duke's son Patrick Wayne (Beyond Atlantis [1973 / trailer] and The People That Time Forgot [1977 / trailer]) wound up playing Sinbad instead. The babe factor was supplied by the only slightly less delectable Jane Seymour (of Live and Let Die [1973 / trailer]). As director, Sam Wanamaker was pulled in, a man that we here at A Wasted Life are more familiar with as an actor in such films as Death on the Nile (1978 / trailer) and Voyage of the Damned (1976 / trailer); as a film director, he did primarily TV and an occasional film such as Catlow (1971) and The Executioner (1970). A US American by birth, he made the "mistake" of briefly joining the Communist Party in the 40s and thus got blacklisted; in England filming Mr. Denning Drives North (1952) when he got the news, he decided to stay there and went on to have a long and productive and successful career as a director and producer and actor (all on stage and screen).
The last of Harryhausen's three Sinbad films, we here at A Wasted Life must admit it is the only one we haven't yet seen. In general, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad seems to be the runt of the litter and the least popular. While The Midnight Monster Show may say that Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger "is way more than an effects curiosity; it's 113 minutes of monster-filled, swashbuckling awesomeness [... and] the monster roll call is just as great: a giant evil clockwork minotaur, a chess-playing baboon, a horned giant, a giant wasp, ghouls, a gryphon and a giant saber-toothed cat — all rendered lovingly in stop motion, which while not totally realistic, does have more character and heft than CGI", most people who have seen the movie tend to echo what the blogspot For It's A Man's Number says: "There is just something lacking from almost every aspect of this movie. The direction from Sam Wanamaker is pretty flat and lifeless, despite the fantastical premise and the bright colors on display, while the script from Beverley Cross limps from one weak set-piece to the next, giving the distinct impression that all of the better ideas had already been used up in the previous two movies."
The plot, as given by TCM: "Sinbad (Wayne), daring sailor and Prince of Baghdad, sets sail towards Charnak seeking permission from Prince Kassim (Damien Thomas of Grave Tales [2011 / trailer] and Twins of Evil [1971 / trailer]) to wed his sister, Farah (Seymour). But Sinbad discovers that Kassim has been placed under a spell by their fiendish stepmother, Zenobia (Margaret Whiting). To break the wicked spell, Sinbad must set forth on a journey unlike any ever travelled."

Clash of the Titans
(1981, dir. Desmond Davis)
Harryhausen's most expensive film ever would also end up being his last, despite it being a huge financial success (it was the 11th highest grossing film of the year). At one point a possible sequel entitled Force of the Trojans was bandied around — a title, in all truth, that sounds like a gay safe-sex movie — but like the few other feature-length film projects Harryhausen infrequently proposed after this one, it went nowhere.
The plot of the movie is an amalgam of several ancient Greek and Roman mythologies tossed together like a mixed salad, but despite the wooden presence of a young Harry Hamlin the film is a rather enjoyable kiddy film, though it does often slide a bit close to being a guilty pleasure. Like all Harryhausen films, the true stars of the movie are his stop-motion creatures, but nevertheless Clash of the Titans possesses the largest group of recognizable "star" names ever brought together for a single Harryhausen film. This is due, it is often said, to the helping hand of the screenwriter Beverley Cross, who was both married to Maggie Smith and able to convince some of the big names to take part — including the sickly Lawrence Olivier, who at the time was hard at work at fattening the trust funds of his descendents and willing to take any half-way decent project that came his way.
Some of the big names really didn't do all that much, however; the luscious Ursula Andress (of The Mountain of the Cannibal God [1978 / trailer] and The 10th Victim [1965 / trailer]), for example, has a total of two lines in the movie. Of the other, much-older respected thespians to parlay their refined accents to small parts in the movie, Clash of the Titans proved to be the final feature-film performances of three character actors: Donald Houston (of A Study in Terror [1965 / trailer] and Maniac [1963 / trailer]), Flora Robson (Dominique Is Dead [1979 / trailer], The Beast in the Cellar [1970 / trailer], and Eye of the Devil [1966 / trailer]) and Freda Jackson (Die, Monster, Die! [1965 / trailer] and The Brides of Dracula [1960 / trailer]).
Clash of the Titans is movie #36 at the blogspot 2,500 Movies Challenge; they give the plot as follows: "Clash of the Titans transports us to the days of Ancient Greece, a time when the Gods ruled the world from atop Mount Olympus. Perseus (Harry Hamlin), a noble warrior and the son of Zeus (Olivier of Dracula [1979]), falls in love with Andromeda (Judi Bowker), a beautiful princess who is being tormented by her former love, Calibos (Neil McCarthy of The Monster Club [1981 / trailer]), a criminal physically deformed by Zeus as punishment for his crimes. Perseus defeats Calibos in battle, yet spares his life in exchange for the Princess's freedom. But Calibos is also the son of an Olympian; the Goddess Thetis (Maggie Smith), and as revenge for her son's humiliation, she commands that Andromeda be sacrificed to the Kraken, a powerful sea monster, in 30 days time. Only the head of the Gorgon, Medusa, which can turn a man to stone with a single glance, can save Andromeda from a watery grave, and only a hero as mighty as Perseus can deliver it."
The late Roger Ebert liked the movie, gushing "Clash of the Titans is a grand and glorious romantic adventure, filled with grave heroes, beautiful heroines, fearsome monsters, and awe-inspiring duels to the death. It is a lot of fun. It was quite possibly intended as a sort of Greek mythological retread of Star Wars (it has a wise little mechanical owl in it who's a third cousin of R2-D2), but it's also part of an older Hollywood tradition of special-effects fantasies, and its visual wonderments are astonishing."
Warner Bros let the bit about "special-effects fantasies" go to their head and went into 3-D CGI overkill for their 2010 remake, which proved also to please the masses, which was even followed by a sequel two years later, Wrath of the Titans (trailer), which we here at A Wasted Life failed to notice had been made — but then, we never made it to the end of the DVD of the remake, either.
 Clash of the Titans — The Remake (2010):

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