A couple of years ago, I walked with a bunch of friends through a gorge in Mallorca called Torrent de Parais. It was magnificent, starting at about 2000 feet in altitude and tumbling down to an azure sea. You had to negotiate rocks, rivers, walls of stone and boulders that made you wade into caverns to access the path.
It ended up at the edge of a perfect beach and that azure sea. Here’s a picture on the right:
During the scramble downwards – it took six hours – the excitement was that the track was totally dominated by the rapids. If it was dry, it was a simple trek. If there was rain, it could get nasty with water up to your shoulders. You never knew what would happen around the edge of a block of stone.
But something else was exciting. I couldn’t put my finger on it for a long time. Until I took in that classic adventure film The 7th Voyage of Sinbad ( (Fri;17.10, Film4).
I used my extensive research methodology (I checked on Google) and found, yes this great kids’ movie was partly filmed in this gorge.
A cyclops tread where we walked. The dragon roared fire in that cave. The genie appeared behind that cliff.
In a way, I had re-visited my past. This movie is one of the all-time greats about Sinbad going to a mysterious island called Colossa crammed full of Harryhausen’s stop/motion animations- a kind of CGI of the late fifties.
Sinbad fights cyclops, dragons, double headed giant birds and a bad guy evilly played by a bald actor called Thatcher (actually Torin Thatcher).
Sinbad has amazing adventures and, as a little boy in an American summer camp, I sat on a wooden floor one rainy afternoon and watched this movie projected onto a flat wall. I not only remember the story. But also that constant whirr of the old projector that meant, from that moment on, that we all had an inner world of imagination when the lights dimmed and that magic funnel of dusty light beamed in the air above me.
It was simply boyhood and Chip, Joe and Pete – my best pals in those sunny pre-teen days- must have played Sinbad for the next month among the scrub oak and dunes of Cape Cod.
The 7th Voyage, from 1958, is actuality the first of three Sinbad movies and this starred a real iconic hero with great muscles, great costumes, great charisma…but a lousy screen name. He was Kerwin Matthews. Possibly he would have been the next Errol Flynn if his agent had said: “Kerwin, old buddy, from this day on you are Butch McIlroy.’
Sinbad’s girlfriend, Princess Parisa, is played by Kathryn Grant (nee Olive Grandstaff, I kid you not) who may be known in better circles as Bing Crosby’s second wife in the Real World. She gets shrink wrapped by a genie and left in a bottle and Sinbad not has to get her re-tuned to normalcy but get her back to the Caliph so they can marry.
And where do they marry and live happy ever after (until the sequel))?
In Baghdad, of course.
If they could only see that ruinous place now, Mr and Mrs Sinbad would have close hauled it back to the island of Colossa with all those snake women, fighting skeletons (re-appearing in Jason and the Argonauts by the way), dragons, screaming Hartyhausen harpies and that cloven hooved Cyclops.
7th Voyage of Sinbad….now there’s a real movie