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

Thursday, January 7, 2016


A troglodyte goes on the hunt
SINBAD AND THE EYE OF THE TIGER ( 1977). Director: Sam Wanamaker.

When Sinbad (Patrick Wayne) returns from his latest voyage, his lady love Farah (Jane Seymour) tells him that her wicked stepmother Zenobia (Margaret Whiting) has turned her brother, Prince Kassim (Damien Thomas), into a baboon to keep him off the throne. They all set off to a far-off island to locate a seer named Melanthius (Patrick Troughton), who tells him Kassim can only be made human again if they voyage through ice to the lost city of Hyborea. Joined by Melanthius and his daughter, Dione (Taryn Power), Sinbad is pursued by Zenobia and her son, Rafi (Kurt Christian). Ray Harryhausen, the special effects wizard, stop-motion expert, and associate producer, set such a high standard with his great films The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Jason and the Argonauts that many fans were disappointed by his follow-ups, but while Eye of the Tiger may not be quite on the same level, it is still a good and entertaining movie with some wonderful sequences. There's a trio of skeletal if leathery antagonists with big bug eyes; a giant walrus that crushes one of Sinbad's men and nearly drowns another; a big bee that bedevils Melanthius; and a sabretooth tiger possessed by Zenobia that gets it on with a friendly 12-foot-tall troglodyte. There's also a robotic "Minoton" who does all of Zenobia's heavy lifting. Another good scene has Zenobia shrinking in size to spy on Sinbad and remaining a serious threat despite her reduced stature. Patrick Wayne [McLintock!] is not bad as Sinbad, although he doesn't quite have that certain flair and solidity of Kerwin Mathews. The daughter of Tyrone Power and Linda Christian, Taryn Power is adept and appealing as Dione -- she had only a few credits -- and Seymour [Live and Let Die] is not just adept as Farah but positively stunning. Margaret Whiting comes close to being campy as Zenobia, but is otherwise the most interesting character in the movie. [This is not the same Margaret Whiting who was an American singer and who married Jack Wrangler, the gay porn star. Don't ask.] Nadim Sawalha, Salami Coker, and Kurt Christian give flavorful performances as two of Sinbad's crew and the evil Rafi. Meanwhile Harryhausen's stop-motion baboon emerges as a character in his own right. While Ray Budd is no Bernard Herrman, his score is effective. Director Sam Wanamaker, who does a good job, was better known as an actor with numerous credits; he was blacklisted and went to England.

Verdict: Fine fantasy film with wonderful FX. ***.


angelman66 said...

Ahh, Bill, yes! This was one of my childhood favorites, and I completely forgot it was Jane Seymour playing opposite the gorgeous Patrick Wayne. He will forever be Sinbad to me! And I was thrilled by the special effects in this they probably seem quite primitive, but so well done for its time. I need to watch it again!

William said...

Actually the FX hold up very well, Chris, as they do even in earlier Harryhausen movies. When one thinks of the painstaking process of moving these models one frame at a time and trying to keep track of which way each limb was going ...! The animated baboon is especially well-done, but everything looks good.