As part of the Warner Brother’s Archive Collection comes CAPTAIN SINDBAD, the classic 1963 fantasy/adventure originally released theatrically by MGM. Even though it's spelled “Sindbad” on this DVD presentation (as well as the old VHS release) this is in fact Sinbad the Arabian knight. There are two reasons I can think of as to why the title uses the Sindbad spelling: 1) a HUGE gaff by MGM upon its initial release, and 2) Columbia Pictures owned the rights to the name Sinbad and thus that couldn’t be used.
CAPTAIN SINDBAD is a modestly-produced adventure story with Guy Williams (“Lost in Space”) as Sinbad, Heidi Bruhl as Princess Jana, Pedro Armendariz (in his last role) as El Karim and Abraham Sofaer as Galgo the magician. The story is very simple - Sinbad must rescue his fiancée Princess Jana from the evil wizard El Karim. Our hero gets attacked by birdmen dropping rocks on his ship before he can reach the shore, and when he does arrive on land, he becomes arrested and imprisoned. During his imprisonment, he has to do battle with an “invisible monster”. In a resourceful bit of ingenuity, the area surrounding the monster’s foot goes bright green as it takes steps toward Sinbad. Of course, he eventually escapes to find the Princess and kill El Karim in the Ivory tower. The way to kill El Karim is to destroy his heart which is removed from his body and placed in a glass container.
There's a lot of fun to be had with an array of strange creatures. Along the way, Sinbad encounters man eating plants, giant alligators, a hydra (an impressive multi-headed dragon) and a large fist with spikes (possibly the most unique creature of the bunch). Sinbad saves Jana and kills El Karim by throwing his heart out of the ivory tower. The special effects in this are average to very good, and the actually compliment the film pretty well. The cinematography here is excellent, and CAPTAIN SINDBAD ranks as a very colorful and enjoyable movie that is good entertainment for the whole family to view.
Warner’s DVD transfer for CAPTAIN SINDBAD, in my opinion, is very good. Available online as an authorized “manufactured on demand” disc, it’s presented here in its original 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio with anamorphic enhancement. There are some dirt specks here and there on the print source, but overall the image is very crisp and clean and the colors are quite vivid. The transfer is in fact so clear that the strings on the Hydra are indeed very visible. The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono audio is nice; sharp and clear in both the music and dialog. Having owned the previous MGM/UA Home Entertainment VHS of the film, now seeing it in widescreen with an impresive transfer which does it justice is a real treat.
Bonus features include the original theatrical trailer and an introductory promo trailer showcasing other titles in the Warner Archive Collection. The DVD comes in a standard amaray case and has the artwork as shown on the WB Shop website. The disc has professional labeling on the front side and a purplish coloring on the back, meaning it's of the DVD-R variety, but produced with Warner Brothers’ high quality replicating equipment, so playback performance is definitely more than satisfactory.
Closing thoughts: While CAPTAIN SINDBAD is not quite as good as the Columbia Sinbad series with Ray Harryhausen’s groundbreaking effects, this is still a charming, lively, well done little fantasy film which can now be seen with a nice sharp widescreen image. If this will be the only way to get the film in the USA, then I would recommend this purchase easily. For more information on The Warner Archive Collection, visit www.warnerarchive.com. (David Steigman)
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