Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Guy Williams as Sindbad
CAPTAIN SINDBAD (1963). Director: Byron Haskin.

In the mythical kingdom of Baristan, the evil El Karem (Pedro Armendariz), who's taken the throne from the elderly king, tries to kill off the Princess Jana's (Heidi Bruhl) lover, the dashing hero Captain Sindbad (Guy Williams). Easier said than done, although El Karem puts Sindbad in an arena with an invisible monster [we only see its footprints a la Forbidden Planet] and has the distinct advantage of being unkillable. Commanded by El Kerim, the court wizard Galgo (Abraham Sofaer) has magically placed the former's heart in a tower in the middle of a swamp, protecting him from death. Sindbad and his men brave the swamp and face hungry gators, whirlpools that suck down the men, man-eating vines, and a mechanical hydra [this last creation is a well-made and busy beastie but it takes a far second to the stop-motion Ray Harryhausen hydra in Jason and the Argonauts, which came out the same year]. The movie wisely intercuts from the desperate race to smash El Karem's heart in the tower to the approaching execution of the princess, whose head is to be stepped on by an elephant! Although the effects aren't in the same league, this is one of the better fantasy films made in the wake of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad [the correct spelling of the Arabian nights hero's name is actually with a "d"]. Williams makes a properly dashing Sindbad, Bruhl is very pretty and capable, and Armendariz is a fairly zesty bad guy. Sofaer's comedy relief antics are somewhat tiresome. Colonel Kabar, El Karim's right hand man, is well played by the incredibly versatile Henry Brandon: Barnaby in Babes in Toyland, Fu Manchu in Drums of Fu Manchu, and the hermit in The Land Unknown. The musical score seems to be a steal from a Borodin piece popularly known as "Stranger in Paradise." Excellent scenic design, especially in the colorful and sinister swampland. Bruhl appeared mostly in German films, while most of Williams' appearances were on television. After making a great many Mexican and American films, Armendariz died the same year of this film's release at 51 [he committed suicide to avoid a painful death from cancer, possibly contracted while working on The Conquerer] after making a final screen appearance in From Russia With Love.

Verdict: Highly entertaining fantasy with some decent effects work and generally good performances. ***.


dj Buddy Beaverhausen said...

LOVED this as a kid, even then realizing it was inferior quality compared to "7th Voyage." But I did have a thing for Sinbad.

William said...

Who didn't? I'm sure Williams must have worked his way through a lot of beds in Hollywood!