Tue 7 Jul 2009
CAPTAIN SINDBAD. MGM-Germany, 1963, aka Kapitän Sindbad. Guy Williams, Heidi Brühl, Pedro Armendariz, Abraham Sofaer, Bernie Hamilton, Helmuth Schneider, Henry Brandon, Guy Doleman. Co-screenwriters: Ian McLellan Hunter and Guy Endore; director: Byron Haskin.
Like Son of Sinbad [reviewed here] Captain Sindbad is in Technicolor too, but it’s a ruddy, comic book color: cheap, gaudy, and enjoyably eye-watering. The sets are lavish but cheesy-looking, costumes likewise, and everything seems pointed at an ostentatious show of threadbare splendor, with swordfights, shipwrecks, riots and magic stuff tumbling out like cut-rate toys from a shabby bag.
Guy Wiliams, in between Zorro and Lost in Space, stars as Sindbad, pitted against evil poo-bah Pedro Armendariz, an actor who appeared in real movies, like Three Godfathers and From Russia with Love.
Here though, he just sits around in a chintzy palace with vaulted purple ceilings, blood red carpets and golden dragons all over (just the way you or I would decorate a palace if money and taste were no object) and hatches evil schemes with the kind of hammy relish I hadn’t seen since Tod Slaughter.
Okay, it’s kind of a catch-penny thing, but as written by Guy Endore, and directed by Byron Haskin, Captain Sindbad has a sleazy charm I just can’t resist. There’s always something happening on screen, and the special effects, though never convincing, are always imaginative and even kind of poetic at times.
I particularly liked how the bad guy can’t be killed because he keeps his heart locked up in a tower an enchanted forest, guarded by a giant hand — I guess we’ve all known someone like that, haven’t we? It’s storybook stuff presented with childlike gusto by people old enough to know better and a film no eight-year-old should miss.