Wednesday, March 27, 2013

"Trust In Allah, But Tie Up Your Camel"

This week's League post topic came from me because I wanted to do a post on my favorite childhood movie, The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad. Brian over at Cool and Collected varied it a bit to encompass anything that we loved as a kid and there were few things I loved more than that movie.
I was born in a time when there was no such thing as video tapes or DVDs. If you wanted to see a movie you had to go to the theatre and often the same movie played in the same theatre for months if it was popular. It was rare for a person to see the same film several times unless it played on TV annually like The Wizard of Oz. You certainly couldn't go to the shelf and CHOOSE the movie you wanted to see. You were at the whims of the theatre and the guys in charge of selecting which movies would play that week. This was especially true on a military base.
I lived on many military bases and one thing that they did for the families was to make sure we had lots to keep us entertained. There were sports facilities and shopping centers and bowling alleys and always a great movie theatre. Ours was right next to the cafe. You could have burgers and fries then go see a movie. That was a good night out as a kid. And if the movie was good - shit, that was golden.
Since they were run by the government, the bases had access to all the great 35 mm films from the past and would show the same film only from Friday to the following Thursday. Then they would replace that film with another classic or something newer. I remember seeing both Spartacus and The Ten Commandments in the same two week period and I felt blessed for the experience.
We even got the newest movies. I especially remember the two weeks leading up to the premiere of the 1976 version of King Kong. I passed by that poster everyday on my way to school and could barely keep from wetting myself when I finally was standing in line for a ticket.
However, the greatest thing about movies on the base were the Saturday and Sunday matinees. They lasted roughly four hours and my parents would drop me and my sister off at noon with enough money for several trips to the snack bar over the afternoon.
They would start with movie trailers, old newsreels, military safety films and cartoons. Then we would get an episode of one of those republic trailers like King Of The Rocketmen. I remember coming back every week to see if the hero managed to survive the cliffhanger he was placed in.
Then came the 'B' movie (which was often a 1950s black and white monster picture) followed by the 'A' movie.

In fact that theatre was where I saw the original King Kong for the first time

Of all the 'A' movies they ever showed, my favorite was The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. We lived on that base in Europe for five years and I could count on them showing this film several times a year. Even after seeing it a dozen or more times, I never grew tired of that picture. Even today I get the same thrill out of seeing my favorite scenes.
What was not to love? You had high adventure, good versus evil, an almost too beautiful for words girl to crush on and of course the fantastic animated monsters of Ray Harryhausen. A Grand Vizer who hides his burned face with a mask of gold (are you freakin' kidding me?) even humor, sacrifice, honor, justice and love. It's beautiful to look at and never boring. The film had all the elements to make a 7 year old (or 47 year old) boy's head explode.

Sinbad - "Don't you see it? There are sholes, and an island. It's a CHART! A nautical chart."

Grand Vizer - "And you are a sea captain. Allah be praised."

Sinbad is played by John Phillip Law who did Diabolique and Barbarella. That makes him a god to me. I like his stuff and here he is the hero who fights for the good against the ugly ambition's of the Evil Prince Koura. He is joined by a wise vizier who believes in destiny and who wears a mast of gold that hides his burnt face. And of course Haron, the drunken son of a rich merchant who pays Sindbad 500 gold coins to take him away. Anywhere but here because he drinks too much and likes the Hashish too much. He proves himself along the way in each task he is given. He's the comic relief that just makes the whole thing fun to go along with. There are exotic location and monsters and lost tribes and all other kinds of death and danger. It's more than cool. They don't even punk out in the end and give you an end that you can believe was just and right.

Sinbad: You pace the deck like a caged beast, for one who enjoys the hashish you should be more at peace.

Ray Harryhausen pulled out all the stops for this picture. His stop-motion creatures were time consuming to film in action but the results here are spectacular. Until the age of computer animation, no one had done a better job at bringing amazing monsters to the screen. Check out this compilation of his movie effects to see the breadth and scope of his work.

Before I knew him as Doctor Who, Tom Baker was the villainous Prince Koura and a formidable villain he was. After all, he could create little flying monsters to do his spying and commanded statues to come to life and kill for him. His mastery over the 'black arts' seemed more than a match for Sinbad and his brave crew. If you start with a good villain, the rest of the movie will take care of itself I always say.

The first movie actress I ever crushed on was Caroline Munro. There was just something about the way she spoke and dressed as Mariana that was irresistible to me. She certainly is one of the most beautiful women ever to be on film.
How many copies of this film do I own? I have it in all the formats it ever came out in and have worn out more than my share of VHS tapes.

When I became aware that a comic book version of the film existed I went on a wild search for the two issue mini-series. My local comic book guy turned me onto another collector who would sell comics at the local farmer's markets. I got his number and called him to see if he had these two issues for sale. Then I begged my father to drive me two towns away just to meet him one Saturday morning. He knew I would not rest until I had them in plastic.

In searching for pictures for this post I found out that they produced a resin statue of the six-armed Kali - Goddess of Death. Now I have to go on the hunt for this figure. Even today, there is still something new about this movie that I can add to my knowledge for the film. I just love it. It's the greatest movie ever put to screen. It's the one movie that takes me back to a cool time in my life when I could believe the spectacle.

Check out these other childhood memories from other Leaguers.


Sam G said...

I remember seeing this in the movie theater and loving every minute of it. Yes....Caroline Munro stuck in my fevered young mind.

Debra She Who Seeks said...

You do know, of course, what everbody's parents were doing Saturday afternoon during those looooong matinees with their kids out of the house? There was a method to the CFB's madness.

Kal said...

Well that's perverse! They had me fooled and we got pizza every Saturday night so it was a win/win in my eyes.

DrGoat said...

Now you're talking my language. That Kali figure is nothing short of awesome.

Dr. Theda said...

I had a "crush" on her as well... Beautiful Lady...(She was even "Dr. Phibes" dead wife...)

Kal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kal said...

It was just the picture of her in that movie wasn't it. She is uncredited.

Mike D. said...

Golden is also my favorite...

Grey Endres DSW MSW said...

Great stuff.