Monday, 29 July 2013

Errol Le Cain's Sailor and the Devil

Errol Le Cain's short film Sailor and the Devil was made in 1966, while Le Cain was working at the Richard Williams studio. I first heard about the film thanks to its brief mention in Denis Gifford's book British Animated Films; I later found that it has something of a following, despite being hard to see. From what I understand no complete print is known to exist, although Garret Gilchrist has a copy with only a few seconds missing, which he has recently posted online:

Back in 2010 Michael Sporn wrote a blog post about Sailor and the Devil, drawing largely on a 1960s PBS documentary and showing a few black and white stills, while Hans Bacher provides some colour shots, including the ones I used above. More recently Amid Amidi wrote a piece on the film, which also discusses Le Cain's other animation work.

More information about Errol Le Cain, who passed away in 1989, can be found at the website Errol Le Cain Legacy. Le Cain does not appear to have worked in animation for long - although it is worth noting that he worked with Pearl & Dean and Moreno, as well as Richard Williams - and instead established himself as a children's book illustrator.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Bob Godfrey and The Magnificent 7 Deadly Sins

Despite some impressive talent in terms of performers and writers, the 1971 comedy anthology feature The Magnificent 7 Deadly Sins ends up as something of a curio: a time capsule to a long-gone era when grown adults would pay money to see Bruce Forsyth falling down a hole, or Harry Secombe having a bucket of water emptied over his head.

Nevertheless, the film is worth remembering as it contains some lesser-known work by Bob Godfrey. These animated sequences link the seven live action segments together, and star a cartoon version of director Graham Stark.

The animation is credited simply to Bob Godfrey Cartoon Films, so I do not know if anyone worked alongside him. The voice of the main character is uncredited, but as Stark was an established comic actor at this point (this was his only feature as director) it seems reasonable that he voiced himself.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Ray Harryhausen in the UK: Jason and the Argonauts

Continuing my trip through the films which Ray Harryhausen worked on after moving to Britain. This time it is Don Chaffey's 1963 film Jason and the Argonauts, containing what is probably the best-known of all Harryhausen's sequences: the skeleton battle. Thrown in for goo measure are the bronze giant Talos, two harpies and the Hydra.

But while the skeleton scene is justly praised for its technical accomplishment, in terms of effect I'd like to put a word in for the Talos sequence.

I have only dim memories of seeing this film as a child, and recall only the skeletons. But I do have a vivid memory of a dream I once had during my childhood, in which I stepped out of my house and saw an enormous figure, made of gold or bronze, striding across the landscape. Watching Jason and the Argonauts twenty or so years down the line, and seeing the Argonauts menaced by Talos, I suddenly realised what must have inspired that dream...

Finally, here is some of Ray Harryhausen's concept art for the film, as printed in the book Ray Harryhausen: An Animated Life. Shown are the Hydra, the harpies, Cerberus (who didn't make it into the film) and a very different visualisation of the undead warriors.