For Reel

Sinbad, the Sailor (1947)
August 17, 2015, 4:12 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Richard Wallace
3 Stars
Sinbad the SailorThe opening sequence of Sinbad, the Sailor shows the eponymous hero attempting to regale an audience with a story about one of his most extravagant adventures. Unmoved, the spectators explain that they’ve heard the legend already, which prompts the braggadocios Sinbad (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) to indulge in the telling of his most recent exploit. That the eventual voyage has very little to do with the fantastical seems to suggest that Sinbad, the Sailor is attempting to tell a more “authentic” story than is typical of the hero, focusing slightly more on the human drama than on his various battles with creatures big and small. It’s a bold choice to characterize the most flamboyant of adventurers as a prodigious liar, but the film doesn’t do much with that story thread. Indeed, it’s an overlong picture and devoid of enough ideas to sustain the gluttonous running time, even if the cinematography quite beautifully details the gowns and the impressively scaled sets. Maureen O’Hara gives a rare fiery performance, sparring with Fairbanks Jr. early on as her allegiances seem to shift from scene to scene. In one remarkable moment, the two lovers-to-be are verbally sparring before he kisses her. There’s a brief pause as the audience waits for O’Hara to react, and surprisingly her response is to give him as aggressive a kiss as a leading lady has ever given her leading man–it’s a slap as much as it is a smooch. There are some nice moments that utilize rear projection, foregrounding the actors from behind as they look at massive oncoming objects. Fairbanks Jr. imitates his father with extreme gestures (and even his dad’s boisterous laughter) to mixed results, but O’Hara steals the show.

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