Ray Harryhausen was a master of stop motion effects and he had teamed up with producer Charles H. Schneer to create films based around his effects. The first was the excellent It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955) and their last film was Clash of the Titans in 1981. Harryhausen had wanted to make a colour film for some time but budget constraints always prevented it.
The story starts with Sinbad (Kerwin Mathews) lost at sea. They find an island and soon encounter a wizard named Sokurah (Torin Thatcher) who is fleeing a giant cyclops. Sokurah uses a magic lamp that he has summoning a genie (Richard Eyer) who puts up a barrier between the cyclops and Sinbad’s men so they can escape. Unfortunately for Sokurah he loses the lamp in the escape. Back home in Baghdad, Sinbad is to be married to the beautiful Princess Parisa (Kathryn Grant). Sokurah wants to return to the island with more men so he can get his lamp back but Sinbad refuses. Sokurah then shrinks the princess and claims that the only way to restore her is to return to the island. Sinbad reluctantly agrees but because he can’t get enough volunteers for the quest he has to use convicted criminals. Once out to sea the criminals try and mutiny. Once the criminals take over the ship they run into sirens that almost destroy the ship and the crew. Fortunately Sinbad had taken precautions and stuffed his ears with cotton and manages to save the crew and the ship.
Once they reach the island they have to fight the cyclops, a roc (which is a two-headed giant bird), a skeleton and a dragon for good measure. The film is extremely entertaining and Harryhausen’s effects are in top form here. The monsters look fantastic and the fight with the skeleton is brilliant. The fight was so popular that Harryhausen stepped up the action and had a skeleton army fight in Jason and the Argonauts. The movie was also a huge hit for Harryhausen and Schneer. As with all huge hits many imitators followed. The Wizard of Baghdad (1960), The Wonders of Aladdin (1961), The Thief of Bagdad (1961), The Magic Sword (1962), and Captain Sinbad (1963).
Rival film producer Edward Small tried to cash in on the film’s success by making Jack the Giant Killer in 1962. Small hired director Nathan Juran who has directed The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Sinbad stars Kerwin Mathews (who plays the hero Jack) and Torin Thatcher who plays another evil wizard. Small also used stop motion effects in the film but based the character designs off of Harryhausen’s. The designs look awfully similar. The giant in Jack the Giant Killer looks an awful lot like the cyclops in Sinbad. the film also has an imp in the bottle (like a genie in a bottle) and dragon at the end of the film. Jack the Giant Killer didn’t have the same success as Sinbad did and Small decided to re-edit the movie into a musical. This was achieved by dubbing new voices and songs over top of the actors. It wasn’t a success either. Still while The 7th Voyage of Sinbad is the better film Jack the Giant Killer is still better than Bryan Singer’s recent Jack the Giant Slayer.