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A Review of

Sinbad the Sailor

starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.


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Overall Rating: StarStar (on a scale of 1 to 5 stars)

Starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Maureen O'Hara, Walter Slezak, and Anthony Quinn, this costume drama from 1947 tells of one final adventure that Sinbad had after his legendary seventh voyage. It's the sort of movie that is interesting to watch once, but I don't find it compelling enough watch many times. Sinbad the Sailor DVD Cover


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What Users Think

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The above poll includes responses submitted since December 24, 2002.


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Fact Sheet

Subject Matter The eighth voyage of Sinbad
Overall Rating StarStar
Year Released 1947
Star(s) Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. & Maureen O'Hara
Dancer(s) None
Total Length 117:00 minutes
Time Devoted to Dance Scenes None


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The famous cast members starring in this swashbuckler are not enough to rescue it from mediocrity.

The movie opens with Sinbad the Sailor (played by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) looking back on his colorful life as an adventurer and boasting to a group of men about his exploits. He makes some claims about being "Prince Ahmed of Deryabar" which they greet with a hearty dose of skepticism. Our tale begins as Sinbad tells them this piece of his history that they haven't heard before.

The story unfolds following Sinbad's seventh voyage. He is penniless. He and one of his cronies spot a derelict ship off the coast, and swim out to claim it as salvage. On board, they discover the dead bodies of the crew, but naturally this is not sufficient to frighten them away from claiming their rich prize. Securing the right to keep what they have salvaged proves to be more difficult than they anticipated, and in the process Sinbad meets the beautiful gold-digging Kurdish princess played by Maureen O'Hara.

Of course, Sinbad and the princess are attracted to each other, which is quite inconvenient because she is betrothed to the lord of a neighboring kingdom, a villainous sort played by Anthony Quinn.

Sinbad believes this ship may have come from the legendary island of Deryabar, which is believed to be where Alexander the Great stashed all his treasure. So he sets forth on a quest to seek this hidden place, and along the way he feels compelled to make a stop en route at the city where Anthony Quinn's character rules, in hopes of catching another glimpse of the lovely princess.

The story proceeds from there.

I find this movie quite disappointing. I normally enjoy 1940's-era swashbucklers, such as Errol Flynn's Robin Hood and Captain Blood, and I also quite enjoy those in which Maureen O'Hara stars opposite John Wayne. But Sinbad the Sailor fails to live up to my expectations. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.'s posturing and emoting is overdone. Many of his moves are highly stylized, as if being done in a ballet. For example, if a scene calls for him to run and look over a balcony, he doesn't merely run and look over the balcony. He makes a production out of swooping his way to the balcony, and then as he leans over the edge he lifts a leg elegantly behind him with a delicately pointed toe. His facial expressions are overdone to the point of being campy. The action scenes are also so campy that it's easy to imagine them as part of a Three Stooges or Marx Brothers movie, replacing Douglas Fairbanks with Moe or Groucho. Admittedly, it is meant to be a light-hearted comedy, but it doesn't quite work for me.

Maureen O'Hara has some spunk, but overall she is rather subdued in this one. Only a few weeks before watching Sinbad, I watched McLintock (a John Wayne movie in which O'Hara portrays a very strong character), and in Sinbad she seems like a pale shadow in comparison.


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Is It Right for You?

You Will Probably Enjoy This Movie If

  • You're a fan of one of the cast members and you would enjoy seeing even a mediocre movie starring that individual.
  • You thoroughly enjoy 1940's-era movies, especially swashbucklers.
  • You'd be able to approach viewing this movie with a receptive attitude toward camp.

This Movie Probably Isn't Right for You If

  • Weak plots and character development spoil your enjoyment of a movie.
  • Overacting spoils your enjoyment of a movie.
  • You're hoping for some lavish production number harem scenes with music and dance.


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What I Liked, What I Didn't

What I Liked:

  • Maureen O'Hara wears some wonderfully lavish gowns.

What I Didn't Like:

  • The overacting.
  • The weak plot with holes so big you could drive a semi tractor-trailer truck through them.
  • The poor character development.


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In Conclusion

I was disappointed by this movie. I had never seen a Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. movie before I saw this one, and because of his fame (plus the fact that Maureen O'Hara was co-starring), I had hoped for something in the vein of Errol Flynn's swashbucklers like Captain Blood. Unfortunately, the plot is dull, the character development is weak, and Fairbanks and O'Hara both deliver disappointing performances. Anthony Quinn and Walter Slezak come across somewhat better, but not enough to be praiseworthy. The weak story does an injustice to the wonderful tales of the Arabian Nights that it is trying to emulate. I expect a few years will go by before I'll be interested in watching it again.


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There is nothing to disclose. I have never had any contact with anyone involved in making this movie.


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Where to Get It

Via Amazon Stores

VHS edition: U.S. Canada

DVD edition: U.S. U.K.




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