Karavansara

East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai

Tits & Sand: Captain Sindbad, 1963

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OK, let me get this straight – we are about to talk about a Tits & Sand movie shot in Munich, Germany, featuring the guy that played Zorro as Sinbad.
I am sure that it can get weirder than this, but still…

There are three men before whom a woman need have no shame: her husband, her doctor and her magician.

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Captain Sindbad, produced in 1963 by the King Brothers, is a strange affair, an odd assortment of mismatched pieces: we get Guy Williams, that had played Zorro in a Disney-produced series, Pedro Armendariz, a class act that has a lot of fun as the bad guy El Kerim, and German actress and singer Heidi Bruhl, that in the same year represented Germany in the Eurovision Song Contest. TV mainstay Abraham Sofaer rounds up the cast as the dotty magician Galgo, complete with pointy hat and star-spangled coat.

captainsindbad02.jpgShot in Germany with a large cast of German actors and technicians, Captain Sindbad has some incredible costumes and scenes coupled with sub-par special effects and appallingly stupid dialogue, the lot in the service of a derivative plot penned by legendary novelist and screenwriter Guy Endore, and later partly rewritten by Frank King to lower the cost of the shoot.

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The plot, for what is worth: Sindbad is coming home to the kingdom of Baristan, not knowing evil El Kerim has seized the power and has some rather dirty plans for Sindbad’s fiancee, princess Jana.
When a squadron of rocs dive-bombs Sindbad’s ship pelting it with boulders, he guesses something’s afoot.
Much swashbuckling ensues.

The director, Byron Haskin, had worked with George Pal on The War of the Worlds, followed by the Heston/Parker vehicle The Naked Jungle. From the Earth to the Moon and Robinson Cruseo on Mars would follow.
Haskin was certainly a director used to working with special effects, but the King Brothers in Munich were no match for George Pal in Hollywood, and the low budget and technical limitations are evident.

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But if the story is derivative and somewhat lame, the look of the movie is all right, and Guy Williams is a good swashbuckling hero.
Pedro Armendariz plays El Kerim like he’s Ming the Merciless, which is OK considering his men look like extras from Mongo’s B Troop. Also, El Kerim can count on the services of one of the most articulate and well-spoken henchmen in the history of swashbuckler, the sinister Colonel Kabar, played by Henry Brandon.
For reasons that are inexplicable, sometimes El Kerim is dressed as a Cossak, but that’s the last of our worries.

The derivative plot extends it derivative influence to the score, too, and the main theme of the movie, by Michel Michelet, is the offspring of the unholy marriage of Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered and Rimski-Korsakov’s Scherazade. One has to listen to it to believe it.

Seen through the filter of youth, the movie is a fine entertainment, a nice way to spend one hour and a half.
For an adult, the silliness wears out quickly, and patience soon evaporates.

Author: Davide Mana

Paleontologist. By day, researcher, teacher and ecological statistics guru. By night, pulp fantasy author-publisher, translator and blogger. In the spare time, Orientalist Anonymous, guerilla cook.

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