Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977)

Samuel Wanamaker, CBE was an American actor who moved to the UK after his communist leanings led to a fear of being blacklisted. He was also a director — we’ll get to that in a minute — but strangely enough, he has the credit for saving The Rose Theatre, which led to the modern recreation of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London.

On his first trip to London, he searched for the theater and only found a plaque. He was upset and in 1970, he started paying for the new theater out of his own pocket, despite the scepticism of British actors and a hostile city council. So yeah — that’s why he has a Commander of the Order of the British Empire honorary title after his name, which is rare for an American.

Oh yeah — he also directed this movie (and plenty of TV, including an episode of Lancer, which means that he shows up in Once Upon a Time In…Hollywood and is played by former Spider-Man Nicholas Hammond).

The third and final Sinbad film released by Columbia Pictures was produced by Ray Harryhausen and Charles H. Schneer, who told Starlog he hired Wanamaker because “I wanted an actor’s director for Eye of the Tiger, to see if we could get more dimension out of other-wise cardboard characters. Sam didn’t have to handle any of the technical aspects of the picture. He merely had to pay attention to them. Within the parameters of the technical work, he directed the dramatic sections. The technical work was carried out by Ray and me.”

As for the actors, this is an attempt at using the next generation of Hollywood royalty, as John Wayne’s son Pat as Sinbad and Tyrone Powers’ granddaughter Taryn as Dione.

Sinbad has come to Charak to ask Prince Kassim (Damien Thomas, Count Karnstein from Twins of Evil) if he may marry Princess Farah (Jane Seymour), but the evil stepmother Zenobia (Margaret Whiting) has transformed Kassim into a baboon and sent all manner of creatures after our hero. Even worse, if he can’t figure out how to change his friend back into a human, the evil Rafi (Kurt Christian) will take over.

Of course, adventure beckons, which means that Sinbad and his crew encounter everything from ghouls, giant wasps, a magical bronze robotic minotaur called the Minoton (the first appearance of Peter Mayhew, who would go on to be in some space movie made the very same year that came out at the same time as this movie), an evil walrus and a sabretooth tiger. Luckily, said crew contains Melanthius (Patrick Troughton, the second Dr. Who), his daughter Dione (Power) and a caveman they call Trog*.

Let me tell you what, escaping the news by watching old stop motion movies is the best decision I’ve made in 2020.

*The stop motion model for Trog was used again for the villainous Calibos in Clash of the Titans.

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