Happy Birthday, Ray Harryhausen!
I’ve been a fan of Ray Harryhausen, who turned ninety-two today, ever since my Dad bought the 8mm Columbia Pictures Home Movie version of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. One day, returning home from second grade, I was met at the bus stop by my Dad who said he had a surprise for me. It was the first reel of Sinbad, the one with the Cyclops. Dad couldn’t afford to buy all five reels of the film at once, so we saw the film one reel a month.
It was an odd way to watch a film. Even the classic cliffhanger serials were shown one chapter a week. Furthermore, this was a digest version which included only about two thirds of the film; B&W instead of the original’s color; silent with titles instead of sound; and, since our projector only ran at 18 fps rather than 24 fps, everything appeared to move in slow motion.
None of this mattered! I was spellbound.
Years later I met Harryhausen at a signing at Laser Blazer in Los Angeles. When he saw the box for Sinbad he spoke of the problems with that version. I told him that none of that mattered to a seven year old. Despite the lack of sound, the lack of color, and the lack of proper projection speed, his magic came through.
Long live Harryhausen!
Sometime in the near future I hope to post the 8mm version of the scene above.