JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS (1963)
A film by Don Chaffey
Cast: Todd Armstrong, Nancy Kovack, Gary Raymond
Greek mythology is done up brown by the special-effects expertise of Ray Harryhausen in Jason and the Argonauts. Jason (Todd Armstrong), rightful heir to the throne of Thessaly, is spared from death through the intervention of the goddess Hera (Honor Blackman). The other celestial inhabitants of Mount Olympus watch in amusement as Hera surreptitiously aids Jason in his search for the Golden Fleece. Obstacles to this goal include a giant come-to-life statue named Talos, the screeching harpies .plaguing blind prophet Phineas (Patrick Troughton), a set of huge clashing rocks, the seven-headed hydra, and an army of skeletons (this bravura climactic sequence assured Harryhausen’s place in the hearts of 13-year-old boys of all ages). Supporting characters include Nancy Kovack as a pre-infanticide Medea and Nigel Green as a pacifistic Hercules. Bernard Herrmann’s surging musical score was icing on the cake for this greatest of all Ray Harryhausen creation. A stop-motion animation masterwork. The skeleton battle found at the end of the film is easily one of cinema history’s more memorable movie moments. It often shows up on effects TV programs, coffee table books and in pop culture in general, even now, more than 40 years later. Artists like Ray Harryhausen, we wouldn’t have films like Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings or Avatar. It took Ray Harryhausen four months to produce the skeleton scene, a massive amount of time for a scene which lasts, at the most, three minutes. After the success of Sergio Leone’s The Colossus of Rhodes (U.S. title: “Colossus of Rhodes”), it was decided to change the character of Talos into a living bronze giant. It would become one of Ray Harryhausen’s most famous creations. The previous Ray Harryhausen films were generally shown as part of a double feature in “B” theatres. Columbia was able to book this film as a single feature in many “A” theatres in the United States. he voice of Todd Armstrong, who played Jason, was dubbed by British actor Tim Turner. Turner’s voice was well known as the narrator of the ’60s Rank series “Look At Life”‘. He was also the narrator of trailers in many British films in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, including the one for this movie, and provided the voice of Dr. Peter Brady, the titular hero of the popular late ’50s British TV series, Invisible Man. The voice of Nancy Kovack, who played Medea, was dubbed by Eva Haddon, an actress well known on BBC radio. Bernard Herrmann’s score liberally utilizes the technique known as “self-borrowing”, which involves reusing elements from his previous scores. Exact passage reuse is taken from scores for The Kentuckian, Beneath the 12-Mile Reef, 5 Fingers and others, and reworking of passages from North by Northwest, The Day the Earth Stood Still and Vertigo scores, among others. Now I just saw that on TCM loved it I have not seen the remake the 2000 version but I will soon enough in Paris on my computer ( a friend has taped it for me on DVD) In a cafe sipping wine and eating bread and cheese. see you!