The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973)

USA, 1974
105m
35mm film, “filmed in Dynarama”, Eastmancolor, 1.66:1
mono, English

An American fantasy film directed by Gordon Hessler.

Plot Summary

Sinbad comes into possession of a homunculus carrying a golden tablet that has been created by the evil magician Koura. He wants the tablet back and pursues Sinbad who has set off on a quest to find the answer to a mysterious golden map given to him by the Vizier. Along the way, Sinbad and his crew battle all manner of monsters as well as the increasingly mad Koura.

Credits

* = uncredited

Crew
Directed by: Gordon Hessler
© MCMLXXXIII [1973] by Morningstar Productions Inc. and Columbia Pictures Industries Inc.
Columbia Pictures presents a Charles H. Schneer production
Produced by: Charles H. Schneer and Ray Harryhausen
Screenplay by: Brian Clemens
From a Story by: Brian Clemens and Ray Harryhausen
Director of Photography: Ted Moore
Film Editor: Roy Watts
Music by: Miklós Rózsa
Sound Recordists: George Stephenson, Doug Turner
Costumes Designed by: Verena Coleman and Gabriella Falk
Make-up: Jose Antonio Sanchez
Special Masks by: Colin Arthur
Creator of Special Visual Effects: Ray Harryhausen
Production Designer: John Stoll

Cast
John Phillip Law (Sinbad)
Caroline Munro (Margiana)
Tom Baker (Koura)
Douglas Wilmer (Vizier)
Martin Shaw (Rachid)
Grégoire Aslan (Hakim)
Kurt Christian (Haroun)
Takis Emmanuel (Achmed)
John D. Garfield [real name: David Garfield] (Abdul)
Fernando Poggi [Kali stand-in] [credited in opening titles but not end titles]
Aldo Sambrell (Omar)
Robert Shaw [The Oracle of all Knowledge] *

Alternative Titles

A Nova Viagem de Sinbad – Portugal
Sinbad, merten sankari – Finland
Sinbads fantastiska resa – Sweden
Sinbad’s Golden Voyage – working title
Sindbads gefährliche Abenteuer – West Germany
Il viaggio fantastico di Sinbad – Italy
El viaje fantástico de Simbad – Spain
Le Voyage fantastique de Sinbad – France

Sequel to
The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958)

Sequel
Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)

See also
Bongshin Bang (1963)

Extracts included in
The Lady with the Torch (1999)
Precious Images (1986)

Press

1973
Daily Mail 20 December 1973
This sort of thing makes pantomime look very small. No amount of stage magic could cope with the screen magic of Ray Harryhausen’s special effects. In the absence of laughs his shaggy monsters, invisible swordsmen, animated ship’s figureheads, not to mention a six-armed statue brought murderously to life, add some much-needed thrills to the plodding story of Sinbad’s search for the lost land of Lemuria. […] Its sinister wizardry will scare children out of their wits, but then they love being scared at Christmas time. – from a review by Cecil Wilson

Daily Mirror 21 December 1973
[P]acked with marvellous special effects. John Philip Law plays the fearless Sinbad who dies battle with evil magician Koura, played with fiendish relish by Tom Baker. On Sinbad’s side is a heavenly body called Morgiana, played by Caroline Munro, who has the equipment to make Raquel Welsh green with envy. – from a review (Devils.. and an angel) by Arthur Thirkell

Daily Telegraph 21 December 1973
[Sinbad] has mighty combats with magic beasts in his quest for a kingdom. This he gallantly discards in favour of a glamorous girl who’s been following him around with a bare midriff and conspicuous cleavage – for dads perhaps, or else mums with inclinations to women’s lib, for it’s quite clear that she’s burnt her bra. One more for boys than girls, I think. – from a review by Patrick Gibbs

Financial Times 21 December 1973
[T]he script by Brian Clemens and the direction by Gordon Hessler are no match for the effects, and for much of the film the story of Sinbad’s latest quest seems both hesitantly plotted and drably photographed. Harryhausen’s set pieces are unique, however, and it is well worth suffering through the film’s duller patches to enjoy them. – from a review by Nigel Andrews

The Guardian 21 December 1973
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad […] is chiefly notable for Ray Harryhausen’s whizz-bang effects […] Doing most of the fighting is John Phillip Law, a Sinbad who seems rather less likely to be made of flesh and blood than most of Harryhausen’s creations. The whole thing, in fact, elsewhere resembles nothing much better than an extended B feature of 30 years ago with Caroline Munro as the inevitable winsome slave girl who almost but never quite manages to burst out of her bra. – from a review by Derek Malcolm

The Times 21 December 1973
[T]he superb craftwork of Ray Harryhausen’s special effects and his animation of three-dimensional figures, is sacrificed to a totally flaccid script, from which the players (led by John Philip Law in the title role) can hardly be expected to take fire. They probably sensed defeat before they began: children are bad enough up-stagers; but animals (compare George C. Scott’s dolphins) are worse; and monsters are worst of all. – from a review by David Robinson

The Observer 23 December 1973
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad […] is faithful to the spirit of the ‘Arabian Nights,’ frequently beautiful to look at and peopled by a series of magnificent monsters manufactured by Ray Harryhausen. […] [The] villain aside (and, rather subtly, he projects a certain pathos and dignity), the human actors tend to be rather literally overshadowed, but there’s a beautiful plump girl (Caroline Munro), a refugee from the Turkish Delight adverts, to hold the attention when there isn’t a mythical beast in view. – from a review by George Melly

Sunday Express 23 December 1973
[A] smashing adventure for youngsters […] It endows the fable about Sinbad’s evil-dogged search for a long lost land with dazzling trick photography, which is at its best showing the flailing paces of a six-armed, sword-fighting goddess – just like Mum trying to cope in the Christmas Day kitchen. – from a review by Richard Barkley

Sunday Telegraph 23 December 1973
In The Golden Voyage of Sinbad […] Ray Harryhausen’s dynamation monsters seem very limp creation compared with the opponents in Jason and the Argonauts. To be fair, though, I doubt whether the dimmest actor (and here we have the distinguished Tom Baker as the snarly villain) could muster much enthusiasm for dialogue that leans heavily on such truisms as “he who walk on fire will burn his feet” – from a review by Margaret Hinxman

Sunday Times 23 December 1973
Pretty good trick work; recommended for the toughies among the tots. – from a review by Dilys Powell

Evening News 27 December 1973
Despite all the magic […] I found The Golden Voyage of Sinbad […] a dark and lugubrious fairy tale. A quasi-oriental adventure story, heavy with bogus dialogue, it is not enlivened by real suspense or characters with whom children can identify themselves. It should be exciting but somehow isn’t. […] Conversely, it is often very terrifying – a real nightmare prompter. John Philip Law makes an uninspiring hero, but Dads will be unlikely to miss the gleaming cleavage of Caroline Munro who comes along on the golden voyage in unsuitable, but fetching, harem dress. – from a review by Felix Barker

1974
The Spectator 5 January 1974
Another example of first-rate entertainment […] [T]he best of the Christmas films for children and an exciting film for anyone to see. – from a review by Christopher Hudson

CinemaTV Today no.10065 (12 January 1974) p.10
Ray Harryhausen’s supernatural creations are the tail that wags the dog. They are superb grotesques, integrated into the live action with a stunning realism that may prove too much for imaginative children who are already afraid of the hobgoblins in their nightmares. Between the conjuring tricks the story moves at a halting pace across a sombre-hued screen with only Tom Baker’s splendidly wicked Koura to lift it out of the rut of ordinariness. – from a review by Marjorie Bilbow

Time 6 May 1974
The Golden Voyage of Sinbad passes one crucial test for the matinee trade: go out for popcorn and you will probably miss something good. Among the movie’s major attractions are a one-eyed centaur, a winged griffin, a six-armed bronze goddess who comes to deadly life, and a rather testy flying homunculus. These creatures have their origin in the imagination and the workshop of Ray Harryhausen, a special effects whiz. He brings them all alive in a process called Dynarama, which would appear to combine equal portions of stop-action photography, elaborate multiple exposures and a kind of gentle necromancy. Golden Voyage is really just an excuse to show off Harryhausen’s commodious bag of tricks. The actors (among whom are John Philip Law, as Sinbad, and Caroline Munro, as the flimsily dressed slave girl who is along on the voyage largely for scenic purposes) are not quite so animated as the mythic creatures surrounding them. The movie is short on talk, except for the windbag wizard (Tom Baker) who plays the villain, and long on action, quite the proper proportion for entertainments like this. Sinbad is light, silly fun, and kids will probably appreciate both the skilful technique of the fantasy and the fact that the film makers have had the good sense not to include a single – yecchh! – kissing scene. – from a review by Jay Cocks

References

Periodicals

  • Castle of Frankenstein no.21 pp.6-15 p.50
  • Cinefantastique vol.3 no.2 (Spring 1974) pp.4, 42-43, 45 – illustrated article; 44 – review
  • CinemaTV Today no.1 (July 1972) p.17 – credits
  • CinemaTV Today no.10042 (28 July 1973) pp.8-9
  • CinemaTV Today no.10065 (12 January 1974) p.15 – credits, review (by Marjorie Bilbow)
  • Closeup no.1 (1975) pp.5-38 – illustrated article
  • L’Écran Fantastique no.52 (January 1985) p.81 – illustrated video review (Video show)
  • Film Review vol.24 no.3 (March 1974) pp.20-23 – interviews with Hay Harryhausen and W. Reitherman
  • Film Review no.623 (October 2002) pp.48-53; 92 – illustrated article (The fantastic voyages of Sinbad by Robert Sellers); illustrated DVD review (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad by Gareth Wigmoé)
  • Film Score Monthly vol.4 no.6 (July 1999) pp.35-36 – soundtrack review (Settling old scores by Jeff Bond)
  • Filmfax no.83 (February/March 2001) pp.47-49, 86-87 – illustrated interviews with John Phillip Law, Caroline Munro and Ray Harryhausen (Golden voyagers by Michael Stein)
  • Films and Filming vol.20 no.6 (March 1974) pp.45-46
  • Films in Review vol.25 no.6 (June/July 1974) pp.362-366 – soundtrack review
  • Films in Review vol.46 no.5/6 (July/August 1995) p.12-17 – illustrated laserdisc review (Horror specials on laserdisc by John Frumkes)
  • The Hollywood Reporter vol.222 no.4 (7 July 1972) p.8 – credits
  • Monthly Film Bulletin vol.41 no.480 (January 1974) p.8
  • Photon no.25 (1974) pp.11-14 – illustrated review (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad – a critique by Les Schwartz)
  • Photoplay vol.24 no.7 (July 1973) p.26-27
  • Shivers no.29 p.14 – review
  • Sight & Sound vol.27 no.10 (October 2017) p.87 – blu-ray review (by Kim Newman)
  • Special Visual Effects Created By Ray Harryhausen vol.1 no.4 (Spring 1974) pp.29-36
  • Time 6 May 1974 – review (by Jay Cocks)
  • Today’s Cinema no.9939 (14 September 1971) p.15 – note (Film forecast)
  • Variety 16 January 1974 p.18

Newspapers

  • Daily Mail 20 December 1973 – review (by Cecil Wilson)
  • Daily Mirror 21 December 1973 – review (Devils.. and an angel by Arthur Thirkell
  • Daily Telegraph 21 December 1973 – review (by Patrick Gibbs)
  • Evening News 27 December 1973 – review (by Felix Barker)
  • Financial Times 21 December 1973 – review (by Nigel Andrews)
  • The Guardian 21 December 1973 – review (by Derek Malcolm)
  • The Observer 23 December 1973 – review (by George Melly)
  • The Spectator 5 January 1974 – review (by Christopher Hudson)
  • Sunday Express 23 December 1973 – review (by Richard Barkley)
  • Sunday Telegraph 23 December 1973 – review (by Margaret Hinxman)
  • Sunday Times 23 December 1973 – review by Dilys Powell
  • The Times 21 December 1973 – review (by David Robinson)

Books

  • The Columbia Checklist: The Feature Films, Cartoons, Serials and Short Subjects of Columbia Pictures, 1922-1988 by Len D. Martin p.124
  • Columbia Pictures Horror, Science Fiction and Fantasy Films, 1928-1982 by Michael R. Pitts pp.92-93
  • Film Review 1974-75 by F. Maurice Speed (ed) p.193
  • Horror and Science Fiction Films II by Donald C. Willis p.158 – credits
  • Reference Guide to Fantastic Films by Walt Lee p.169 – credits
  • Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Film Sequels, Series, and Remakes by Kim R. Holston and Tom Winchester p.431
  • The Stop-motion Filmography by Neil Pettigrew pp.288-302
  • The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Fantasy by David Pringle (general ed.) p.70 – credits, review
  • Uneasy Dreams: The Golden Age of British Horror Films, 1956-1976 by Gary A. Smith pp.115-116
  • Variety Science-Fiction Movies by Julian Brown (ed.) p.49-50 – credits, review
  • The World of Fantasy Films by Richard Myers p.67