Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger is a 1977 fantasy film directed by Sam Wanamaker and featuring stop motion effects by Ray Harryhausen. The film stars Patrick Wayne, Taryn Power, Margaret Whiting, Jane Seymour, and Patrick Troughton. It is the third and final Sinbad film released by Columbia Pictures.

Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger
Theatrical release poster
Directed bySam Wanamaker
Produced byCharles H. Schneer
Ray Harryhausen
Written byRay Harryhausen (story),
Beverley Cross (screenplay)
Based onSinbad the Sailor from One Thousand and One Nights
StarringPatrick Wayne
Taryn Power
Margaret Whiting
Jane Seymour
Patrick Troughton
Music byRoy Budd[1]
CinematographyTed Moore, B.S.C.
Edited byRoy Watts
Andor Films
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • 12 August 1977 (1977-08-12)
Running time
113 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$3.5 million[2] or $3 million[3]
Box office$20 million[3]


In the kingdom of Charak, a celebration is taking place for the coronation of Prince Kassim. But Kassim's evil stepmother, Zenobia, places a curse on him and turns Kassim into a baboon just as he was going to be crowned Caliph.

Sinbad, sailor and Prince of Baghdad, moors at Charak, intent on seeking permission from Prince Kassim to marry Kassim's sister, Princess Farah. He quickly gets used to the city and its people, but finds it under curfew. When Sinbad and his men shelter in a nearby tent, one is poisoned and the rest are attacked by Rafi, Zenobia's son, but Sinbad defeats him. Soon a witch (whom the audience later learns is Zenobia) summons a trio of ghouls, which emerge from a fire and attack Sinbad and his men. Sinbad disposes of the ghouls by crushing them under a pile of huge logs.

Sinbad meets with Farah, who believes that Kassim's curse is one of Zenobia's spells and if Kassim cannot regain his human form within seven moons, then Zenobia's son will become caliph instead. Sinbad, Farah, and the baboon Kassim set off to find the old Greek alchemist named Melanthius, a hermit on the island of Casgar, who is said to know how to break the spell. Zenobia and Rafi follow in a boat propelled by the Minoton, a magical bronze automaton created by the sorceress that looks like a minotaur. During the voyage, Farah proves to be the only person capable of calming the baboon. Sinbad has been convinced that the baboon is Kassim by witnessing it playing chess with Farah, before which it had beaten him, and it truly proves who it really is to a sailor by writing a sentence that says it on the wall.

Sinbad and Farah land at Casgar and find Melanthius and his daughter Dione, who agree to help them. Melanthius says they must travel to the land of Hyperborea where the ancient civilization of the Arimaspi once existed. On the way to Hyperborea, Melanthius and Dione also become convinced that the baboon is Kassim. Besides Farah, Kassim enjoys having Dione's company and develops a love interest towards her.

Zenobia uses a potion to transform herself into a gull to spy on Sinbad. Once aboard his ship, she turns into a miniature human and listens in as Melanthius tells Sinbad how to cure Kassim. Alerted by Kassim, Melanthius and Sinbad capture Zenobia. Unfortunately, her potion spills and a wasp ingests some of it. The wasp grows to enormous size and attacks the two men, but Sinbad kills it with a knife. Zenobia takes what is left of her potion, turns into a gull, and flies back to her own ship. But there is too little of the drink left: While Zenobia is restored to human form and full size, the lower part of her right leg remains a gull's foot.

After a long voyage, Sinbad's ship reaches the north polar wastes. Sinbad and his crew trek across the ice to the land of the Arimaspi, but are attacked by a giant walrus. It destroys most of their supplies and kills two men, but Sinbad and the others fend it off with spears. Zenobia uses an ice tunnel to reach the land of the Arimaspi, and she, Rafi, and the Minoton climb subterranean stairs to emerge in the warm, Mediterranean-like valley above.

Sinbad and his crew also reach the valley. While resting, they encounter a Troglodyte, an 8-foot (2.4 m) tall creature somewhat like a fur-covered caveman, with a single horn on the top of its head. The Troglodyte proves to be not dangerous, but rather friendly and follows the adventurers to the giant pyramidal shrine of the Arimaspi. Zenobia and Rafi arrive at the shrine first, but she has no key to enter. She orders the Minoton to remove a block of stone from the pyramid's wall. He succeeds, but the block crushes the Minoton and destabilizes the shrine's power.

Sinbad and his friends arrive minutes later, and realize Zenobia has entered the pyramid. They enter the shrine's main chamber, the interior of which is covered in ice and is guarded by a Smilodon frozen in a block of ice. Zenobia orders Rafi to attack Melanthius and is about to hurt Dione with a knife, but he is attacked by Kassim and is killed falling down the temple stairs. Momentarily overcome with grief, Zenobia cradles her son while Sinbad and Melanthius investigate how to get Kassim into the column of light at the top of the shrine which will break the spell. Having come to her senses again and seeing Kassim restored to human form, Zenobia transfers her spirit into the Smilodon. Breaking free of its icy prison, the giant cat attacks the group but the Troglodyte then enters the scene and engages the Smilodon in combat. Initially gaining the upper hand and even slamming the creature to the ground, the Smilodon disarms the Troglodyte of its spear and pins it to the wall, inflicting more damage before killing it via biting the neck. Sinbad and his men fight against the Smilodon but are overpowered by its speed and Maroof is killed. The Smilodon then attacks Sinbad who uses the Troglodyte's spear to jab it in the chest, killing both the Smilodon and Zenobia. With the spell on Kassim broken and Zenobia dead, the adventurers flee the temple as it collapses and is buried in snow and ice.

Sinbad, Kassim, Farah, Melanthius, and Dione return home just in time for Kassim to be crowned Caliph. Kassim and Dione smile at each other and Sinbad and Farah share a kiss. The film fades to black, and the eyes of Zenobia appear on the screen.



The strong box office success of The Golden Voyage of Sinbad led Columbia Pictures executives to begin work on a third Sinbad motion picture with the second still in theatrical release. The plan was to move away from some of the legendary creatures which had been features of previous films and use more recognizable prehistoric animals.[4] Legendarily tall (7 ft 3 in [2.21 m]) performer Peter Mayhew made an unbilled acting debut in the film in some live-action sequences as the Minoton,[5][6] while Patrick Troughton (who had played the harpy-plagued blind Phineus in Harryhausen's 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts) played Melanthius.[4] Kurt Christian, who played one of Sinbad's men in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, switched sides and played Zenobia's evil son Rafi.[7]

The film went into production under the working title Sinbad at the World's End.[8] The live action was filmed in Almería, Spain; Malta; and Jordan.[9] The treasury house of Al Khazneh at Petra makes an appearance in one scene.[10] Several castles near Mdina, Malta, were used as backdrops for the film and inserted using triple-exposure,[11] and scenes of ships at sea were filmed in a huge water tank there.[12] Most interior sequences were shot on a soundstage of Verona Studios near Madrid (Spain).[13][14] Principal filming took place between June and October 1975.[15] Some sets were based on previous films in a wide variety of genres. The massive doors and deadbolt to the ancient shrine of the Arimaspi in the arctic were based on a similar set of doors in 1933's King Kong. The interior of the shrine was very similar to the shrine set in the 1935 motion picture She, complete with steep pyramidal steps, a vortex of light coming from above, and a Smilodon encased in ice.[16] The power source of the shrine of Arimaspi was actually made of dental floss. Harryhausen and the crew mounted dozens of floss fiber strands around a cylinder-like construction made of gauze, and this was mounted on a revolving mechanism and put in front of black velvet. It was then pulled out of focus to create shimmering and an inky light was run up and down the system to give it reflections.[17]

Harryhausen originally planned for an Arsinoitherium to make an appearance in the film. The massive, two-horned prehistoric rhinoceros-like creature was intended to fight the Troglodyte in Iperborea's land before the latter meeting with the protagonists. Harryhausen did preproduction designs showing the beast defeating the Troglodyte, then getting caught and dying in a pool of hot tar.[16] Harryhausen also said he planned to have Sinbad and his crew fight a yeti in the arctic, but that idea was ultimately rejected in favor of a giant walrus.[18] Other Harryhausen's ideas were a woolly mammoth as the creature which Sinbad's crew meet in the arctic, and a clash between the Troglodyte and Minoton in the ancient shrine of the Arimaspi, but a Smilodon was picked instead. Harryhausen's stop motion animation work lasted from October 1975 up to March 1977.

The stop-motion Troglodyte figurine used in the film was later cannibalized to make the Calibos character in Harryhausen's 1981 film, Clash of the Titans.[19]

Home media

Blu-ray ALL America - Twilight Time - The Limited Edition Series[20]

  • Picture Format: 1.85:1 (1080p 24fps) [AVC MPEG-4]
  • Soundtrack(s): English (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Extras:
  • Isolated Score (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1)
  • This is Dynamation (Featurette) (3:25, 480p)
  • Theatrical Trailer (2:15, 1080p)
  • Case type: Keep Case
  • Notes: Limited to 3,000 copies (none are numbered)

DVD R1 America - Columbia/Tri-star Home Entertainment[21]

Critical reception

The film was released the same summer as the original Star Wars film, and suffered in comparison to that science fiction epic.[22]

Reviewer Lawrence Van Gelder, writing for The New York Times, called the acting "rudimentary", but found the film enjoyable: "...this latest Sinbad adventure maintains the innocent and atavistic juvenile charm of the others in the series."[9] Reviewer Lorna Sutton said the film was "pure escapist entertainment which doesn't require serious analysis or criticism." She found the film enjoyable, despite its flaws. "The plot is familiar, the characters are predictable and dialogue is trite. But the action and the special effects provide for a fast-paced two hours of entertainment."[23]

Five years after its release, an anonymous reviewer for the Ottawa Citizen described the film as a "bad umpteenth entry" in the series, and slowly paced.[24] But Linda Gross in the Los Angeles Times was kinder, declaring it "a fantasy laced with nostalgia and corn".[25]

Some modern reviewers find the stop-motion work lackluster compared to previous Harryhausen films. Harryhausen biographer Roy P. Webber found the ghouls highly derivative of the skeleton warriors from Jason and the Argonauts, with the heads strongly reminiscent of the Selenites from Harryhausen's 1964 effort, First Men in the Moon.[26] He also found the Minoton and the giant wasp to be lacking in character and so ancillary to the plot as to be dismissed.[27] Harryhausen later admitted that the picture was too rushed, which led to many characterization problems in the animation.[28]

Other cinematic effects in the film have also been criticized. Webber, for example, notes that the traveling mattes used in the film to include various filmed elements are very poorly done, and the special effects used to show Zenobia transforming into a gull are "so bad that it is truly laughable."[27]

However, some aspects of the film have received enduring praise. Webber notes that the baboon animation was so good that many people were fooled into believing a real animal had been used. The battle between the Troglodyte and the Smilodon is much better choreographed than the battle between the one-eyed centaur and the griffin in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and much more dramatic (with the cat actually raking with its claws and biting with its teeth, leaving deep wounds on its opponent).[27]


  1. Spencer, Kristopher. Film and Television Scores, 1950-1979: A Critical Survey By Genre. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2008, p. 177.
  2. Mitchell, Steve. "Ray Harryhausen: 'Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger'." Filmmakers. 10:20, p. 5.
  3. ILLUSIONS, FANTASIES AND RAY HARRYHAUSEN Mills, Bart. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File); Los Angeles, Calif. [Los Angeles, Calif]16 Sep 1979: n30.
  4. Webber, Roy P. The Dinosaur Films of Ray Harryhausen: Features, Early 16mm Experiments and Unrealized Projects. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co., 2004, p. 193.
  5. "Where Are They Now? 'Wars' Supporting Cast." Sacramento Bee. 31 January 1997.
  6. A casting director had seen a newspaper story about men with big feet, which featured Mayhew. He tracked him down, and offered him the part of the robotic creature. See: Jenkins, Garry. Empire Building: The Remarkable Real-Life Story of 'Star Wars'. Secaucus, N.J.: Carol Publishing Group, 1999, p. 88.
  7. "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) - Full cast and crew - IMDb". IMDb.
  8. Young, R.G. The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Film: Ali Baba to Zombies. New York: Applause, 1997, p. 570.
  9. Van Gelder, Lawrence. "Kids Will Like Third 'Sinbad'." New York Times. 13 August 1977.
  10. Miller, Thomas Kent. Allan Quatermain at the Crucible of Life. Rockville, Md.: Wildside Press, 2011, p. 272.
  11. Mitchell, p. 24.
  12. Knapp, Laurence F. Ridley Scott: Interviews. Jackson, Ms.: University Press of Mississippi, 2005, p. 124.
  13. Gil, Miguel 1st Asst. Director of the film
  14. Elley, Derek, ed. The 'Variety' Movie Guide. New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1991, p. 549.
  15. Hell, Richard. The World of Fantasy Films. South Brunswick, N.J.: Barnes, 1980, p. 67.
  16. Webber, p. 196.
  17. Dalton, Tony. Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life. London: Aurum, 2003, pgs. 250-252.
  18. Dalton, Tony. The Art of Ray Harryhausen. London: Aurum, 2005, p. 162.
  19. Webber, p. 196.
  22. Kinnard, Roy. Beasts and Behemoths: Prehistoric Creatures in the Movies. Metuchen, N.J. : Scarecrow Press, 1988, p. 150.
  23. Sutton, Lorna. "Film Review: Sinbad's Voyage Adventure In Fun." Spokane Spokesman-Review. 29 August 1977.
  24. "Movies in Review." Ottawa Citizen. 21 August 1982.
  25. Gross, Linda. "Movies of the Week.' Los Angeles Times. 6 September 1981.
  26. Webber, p. 197-198.
  27. Webber, p. 198.
  28. Dalton, p. 184.
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