Golden Boy (The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, 1973)

Sinbad_Golden_PosterWhile at sea, Sinbad happens upon a golden tablet that he decides to wear as an amulet. During the night, his ship is hit with a storm and Sinbad has a dream of a man dressed in black and a beautiful woman.  He and his crew find themselves near Marabia.  There he is met by a man who wants the amulet.  After a chase, Sinbad meets the Grand Vizier who wears a Golden Mask to conceal his deformed face. He tells Sinbad about the tablet, that it is only part of a larger puzzle that will reveal a map to the Foutain of Destiny.

The mysterious cloaked man, Prince Koura also seeks the fountain, for nefarious purposes. Sinbad agrees to help the Visier.  Before they leave, he meets Margiana-the beautiful woman from his dream. Her master wants him to hire his son, and Sinbad agrees on the condition that Margiana goes with them.

As they try and reach the Fountain, Koura uses dark magic to try and interfere with Sinbad’s journey.  However, this has a side effect of draining his lifeforce.

The Golden Voyage of Sinbad is, on the one hand, great fantasy fun.   It features the art of Harryhausen, with fantastical monsters and magical adventure.

On the other hand, it falls into the grand Hollywood tradition of brownface.  Featuring John Phillip Law as Sinbad, facing off against Doctor Who’s Tom Baker, the cast is largely white actors playing characters of middle eastern heritage.  While it is hard to complain about the casting of the beautiful Caroline Munro as Margiana, the character is rather thin in development.

It is mainly the visual elements of the Golden Voyage that make it enjoyable, as the story is a rather standard quest.

Boat Trip (Jason and the Argonauts, 1963)

jason_and_the_argonaughts_poster.jpgKing Aristo has been killed and his throne taken by Pelias.  But it is revealed that there is a prophecy that one of Aristo’s sons (wearing one sandal) would bring the downfall of Pelias.  But before Pelias strikes the child down, he is told that killing the infant will mean his own death.

Years later, a young man wearing a single sandal saves Pelias from drowning.  The young man, named Jason explains (not realizing who he has saved) that he is undertaking a journey to find the legendary Golden Fleece to rally the citizens against Pelias.  Seeing an opportunity, Pelias suggests this is a wise plan and encourages Jason, even offering him resources and a crew.  Men come and compete to join Jason on his ship the Argos.  Among the crew are Hercules and Acastus (son of Pelias and there to help hasten Jason’s death if necessary).

The film is full of trials and dangers.  When the crew is dangerously low on any rations and  out in the middle of the sea, Hera leads them to the Isle of Bronze. There, when Hercules disobeys a rule about only taking provisions, they face a giant murderous bronze warrior.  In another sequence they seek the wisdom of a blind man who is cursed to be beset by Harpies who eat his food and leave him only scraps for every meal.

Jason has assistance from Hera, but Zeus has made a provision that she has only five opportunities to intervene for Jason when he asks it.  Like the myths of old, Jason and other mortals are mere pieces of a game.  The gods here are a bit more jovial than in the old stories, where their jealousies and lusts were powerful driving factors within their relationships to each other and man.

This film is full of grand visuals, from a giant Poseidon parting cliffs to allow the Argos to pass and a multitude of amazing monsters, such as the Hydra and the famous skeleton fight scene.  Of course, the special effects are the work of the legendary wizard Ray Harryhausen.

My one criticism here is (and it is admittedly a big one) how the movie just kind of “ends”.  The actual story is not resolved.  Pelias is still king.  I don’t know if there was an expectation that there was be a second film…but it makes it feel like an incomplete epic.

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