Sunday, May 11, 2014

Tonight's Movie: Sinbad the Sailor (1947)

This seems to be "adventure film week"! Having watched THE DESERT HAWK (1950), A THOUSAND AND ONE NIGHTS (1945), and LORNA DOONE (1951), I next turned to Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as SINBAD THE SAILOR (1947).

SINBAD THE SAILOR has to be one of the most visually stunning movies I've ever seen, and certainly the finest-looking release I've seen from the Warner Archive. A Blu-ray couldn't look better than this amazing DVD.

I remember reading a rumor some time back that this film and THE SPANISH MAIN (1945) had been prepared for a "pirates" DVD set which was cancelled when the DVD marked radically changed half a decade ago. Whether or not that is accurate, SINBAD THE SAILOR looks terrific.

The meandering story, such as it is, is the tale of Sinbad (Fairbanks), who's competing with Emir (Anthony Quinn) and Melik (Walter Slezak) to see who can be the first to find an island filled with treasure. Sinbad and Emir are also in competition for the lovely, if mercenary, Shireen (Maureen O'Hara).

At 116 minutes the movie is far too long for its slight plot, and I feel it would have been more effective at about 90 minutes. That said, the movie held my attention in large part simply due to the pleasure of looking at it, with its attractive lead stars combined with incredible sets, costumes, and George Barnes' remarkable Technicolor photography. The movie also has a fine, atmospheric score by Roy Webb.

Fairbanks approaches the role in his famous father's style, with plenty of entertaining acrobatics and derring-do. (There is a rooftop jump which is clearly a stunt double, however!) He and O'Hara have combustible chemistry, and they were certainly among the stars most suited for this style of film. The viewer has the feeling that they were having a good time, and that's part of what makes it fun to watch despite the overly long script being the movie's weak link. The final shots will leave any classic film fan smiling.

The rest of the cast is quite fun. Jane Greer plays O'Hara's handmaiden, the very same year she had her breakout role in OUT OF THE PAST (1947). Quinn's henchmen include Brad Dexter (then billed as Barry Mitchell) and Louis Jean Heydt. Sheldon Leonard plays an auctioneer, and Alan Napier (Alfred of BATMAN) plays a man who might be Sinbad's father.

The cast also includes George Tobias, Mike Mazurki, George Chandler, Paul Guilfoyle, John Miljan, and Glenn Strange. The movie was directed by Richard Wallace.

The Warner Archive DVD includes a trailer.

SINBAD THE SAILOR previously had a VHS release in the RKO Collection. It was also released on DVD in the UK.

A footnote about Maureen O'Hara and Douglas Fairbanks Jr., two of my favorite actors.

Last month, in less than a week's time, I saw Miss O'Hara in person twice and also saw the burial place of Douglas Fairbanks Jr. Fairbanks is buried with his father at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, at an impressive site seen in this photograph.

It was a good time to reflect anew on how much viewing pleasure both actors have brought me, and I'm very grateful to both of them.


Blogger LĂȘ said...

This film is, indeed, very beautiful regarding colors. I think it's similar with the extravagant colors of The Thief of Bagdad (1940).
It's very nice to see Anthony Quinn in unsympathetic roles in these pirate movies. And what about Maureen? Stunning.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I haven't seen THE THIEF OF BAGDAD yet, I'll put it on my "to see" list! So glad you have enjoyed this one too.

Best wishes,

9:20 PM  

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