SINBAD THE SAILOR
Douglas Fairbanks died in 1939. His son Douglas Fairbanks Jr had had a minor acting career beginning in the 1910s. Fairbanks Jr gained a modest star in the 1930s and appeared in a number of high profile films including Little Caesar (1931) and Gunga Din (1939), and a few of the types of the swashbucklers his father was famed for with The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) and The Corsican Brothers (1941) but never rose to the level of superstardom his father did. Sinbad the Sailor was an effort clearly made to cast his Douglas Fairbanks Jr in his fathers footsteps and recreate something of The Thief of Bagdad there had been a renewed interest in the Arabian Nights fantasy in the 1940s after the beautifully lavish colour remake of The Thief of Bagdad (1940).
Sinbad the Sailor was the first screen version of Sinbad, although the character had earlier made a minor appearance in Arabian Nights (1942) (played by no less than Shemp Howard of The Three Stooge fame) and in short cartoon form in Sinbad the Sailor (1935) from Walt Disney associate Ub Iwerks and Popeye the Sailor Meets Sinbad the Sailor (1936). As a Sinbad film, Sinbad the Sailor proves to be a real oddity. One comes to it after having seen Ray Harryhausens magnificent versions of the Sinbad story with The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973). By contrast, this is a Sinbad film without fantasy or magic. Everything takes place in a talk-heavy plot with not a lot of action. The results are like a fish out of water. Certainly, the film is not unentertaining in its stagebound effects but it is strange to see a Sinbad that emphasises talk instead of action.
For all the films Technicolor spectacle, the sets and models are sometimes appallingly flat and obvious and in poor perspective. The fights get to be so silly that it often looks as though they forgot to choreograph in the custard pies. Douglas Fairbanks Jr bounces and leaps around like a manic leprechaun, as though he has more of a chance of overcoming his opponents by grinning them to death then actually fighting them although the extravagant cheer does eventually catch on after awhile.
Elsewhere, there are some well drawn characters who are fitted up with some nicely formal, ornate dialogue. Particularly good is Walter Melik playing the ambiguous character of the barber and also the wisely Aga. The low comedy relief with the sidekick character played by George Tobias proves irritating. One cannot go without mentioning the breath-taking beauty of Maureen OHara.