The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) poster

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)


USA. 1958.


Director – Nathan Juran, Screenplay – Kenneth Kolb, Producer – Charles H. Schneer, Photography – Wilkie Cooper, Music – Bernard Herrmann, Visual Effects – Ray Harryhausen, Art Direction – Gil Parrendo. Production Company – Morningside.


Kerwin Mathews (Sinbad), Torin Thatcher (Sokurah), Kathryn Grant (Princess Parisa), Richard Eyer (Barani the Genie)


Sinbad the sailor and his crew come upon the island of Colossa, where they meet the sorcerer Sokurah. 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. When the Caliph 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.

Stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen was a cult figure. Ray Harryhausen is the only the special effects man who ever achieved such fame that he became the star of his films. (A complete list of Ray Harryhausen’s films is at the bottom of the page). The formula of Ray Harryhausen’s films was simple – the story being constructed around each of the creations that Harryhausen would wheel out. These were the only real considerations – any plots tended towards a picaresque minimalism and the heroes, heroines and villains were of a singular wooden variety.

The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is perhaps the most well remembered of Ray Harryhausen’s films. It was certainly the most popular and its success formed the template for the best of Harryhausen’s subsequent fantasies – with Harryhausen producing two further Sinbad adventures, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977), and using the same mythic adventure format in other films like Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and Clash of the Titans (1981).

The attacks by the cyclops in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Ray Harryhausen's stop motion animated creation
The attacks by the cyclops – Ray Harryhausen’s stop motion animated creation

Kerwin Mathews is serviceable as Sinbad, although Kathryn Grant as the Princess appears to have come straight out of high school. Torin Thatcher gives a performance that is at least admirable for its directness – someone like a Christopher Lee could have done great things with it but in shaven bullet-head and clipped accent Torin Thatcher comes across with an interestingly physical brutality. However, characterisation ends about there – Sinbad’s cutthroat crew seem to exist solely as a series of continuing lessons in not interfering in things they don’t know about. The plot swings its share of incredulities – it does seem incredible that nobody suspects Sokurah – a wizard and the most obvious suspect – of having shrunken the Princess.

Of course, what everyone came to see and what the whole of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is directed toward, are Ray Harryhausen’s creations. These are expectedly fabulous. The scenes with the cyclops are superb, especially of it turning sailors on a spit and the fight with it pummeling men under trees. Harryhausen evinces the cyclops with an amazing sense of character – in the sense of pain on its face after Sinbad impales it in the eye with a burning brand, the way it stumbles about and is led to fall over the cliff.

The climactic fight between Sinbad and a skeleton is exceptional – with the choreography between the live-action and stop-motion being nothing short of amazing. It is only the roc scenes that never amount to much. Regular Harryhausen collaborator Bernard Herrmann contributes a score that has achieved just fame, one that relies on loud brass played on minor keys – it is unsubtle, nevertheless effective.

Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews) fights off the reanimated skeleton in The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)
Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews) fights off the reanimated skeleton

Ray Harryhausen’s other films are:- The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953), the granddaddy of all atomic monster films; the giant atomic octopus film It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955); the alien invader film Earth Vs. The Flying Saucers (1956); the alien monster film 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957); The 3 Worlds of Gulliver (1960); the Jules Verne adaptation Mysterious Island (1961); the Greek myth adventure Jason and the Argonauts (1963); the H.G. Wells adaptation The First Men in the Moon (1964); the caveman vs dinosaurs epic One Million Years B.C. (1966); the dinosaur film The Valley of Gwangi (1969); the two Sinbad sequels The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973) and Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977); and the Greek myth adventure Clash of the Titans (1981). Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan (2011) was a documentary about his work.

Director Nathan Juran/Hertz made a number of other genre films, all down the B-budget end of the spectrum. Indeed, The 7th Voyage of Sinbad was the most respectable film Juran ever made. Nathan Juran’s other films are:– the historical horror The Black Castle (1952), the giant bug film The Deadly Mantis (1957), Harryhausen’s 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957), the classic bad films The Brain from Planet Arous (1957) and Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1958), Jack the Giant Killer (1962) – a blatant copy of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Ray Harryhausen’s The First Men in the Moon (1964), and The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973) wherein he reunited with Kerwin Mathews.

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