Year 2, Day 84 - 3/25/10 - Movie #449
BEFORE: This one's from the 1950's, I taped it off of TCM a couple years ago and put it on a DVD with "Jason and the Argonauts". I thought it was a movie I watched as a kid, but now I think that was a different Sinbad film, so I've never watched this one. It looks like this one has effects done by the great Ray Harryhausen, so I'm hopeful.
THE PLOT: When a princess is shrunken by an evil wizard, Sinbad must undertake a quest to an island of monsters to cure her and prevent a war.
AFTER: The special FX are actually pretty good, considering the year this was made (1958). But the acting is just dreadful, the plot's pretty thin, and it stars no one I've ever heard of. It seems pretty low-budget, like a B-movie.
The movie seems to start in the middle of a story, with Sinbad and his crew landing on the island of Colossa, where they encounter a giant hooved Cyclops beast. The magician Sokurah, who controls a genie in a lamp, gets dropped into the story (later it's explained that he lives on Colossa...) and defeats the Cyclops, who gains control of the lamp.
Sokurah travels back to Bagdad with Sinbad, to convince the Caliph to fund an expedition to regain the lamp - dude, you lost it, why should someone else stick their neck out for you to get it back? - promising untold riches from the Cyclops' cave. When the Caliph refuses, the magician shrinks Sinbad's fiancee down to miniature size, and says the only way to re-enlarge her is to make a potion back in his lab on Colossa.
It's kind of annoying that no one really sees through Sokurah's deception - just how many magicians in Bagdad could have shrunk the princess? And isn't it a little convenient that the only way to get the ingredients for the potion is to travel to the EXACT island that Sokurah wanted to return to?
But what we really want to see is the stop-motion creatures - the Cyclops, the giant Roc bird, a dragon and a sword-fighting skeleton. These were top-notch effects back in the day, inspiring films like the 1980's "Clash of the Titans". Yeah, they're a little jerky and not perfect, but you have to respect the craft.
The Sinbad mythos seems to borrow heavily from the stories of Aladdin (magic lamp) and Greek mythology (putting wax in the crew's ears to avoid maddening Sirens). The actual Sinbad stories told in the "1001 Arabian Nights" detail 7 voyages, but most of those elements from those stories don't appear here, except for the Cyclops and the giant Roc birds.
RATING: 5 out of 10 cobras