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SEE! The Adventure That Stunned the World ... And the Mighty Men Who Conquered It!
Apollonius of Rhodes wrote stories with legs. Legendary deeds of Hercules and in the epic poem Argonautica, the adventure of Jason and his crew of the ship Argos. Little could he have imagined the influence of his work would transcend centuries. The literate screenplay for the 1963 adventure film Jason and the Argonauts by Beverly Cross (Half a Sixpence) and Jan Read (First Men on the Moon) would take the familiar names and mythological characters from the 3rd century to the 20th century and beyond to a new sphere of storytelling.
Producer Charles H. Schneer began his movie career at Columbia Studios and there collaborated and encouraged stop motion animator and wizard of special effects Ray Harryhausen in his envelope-pushing endeavours. Of their many collaborations which extended to Schneer's own production companies, the producer considered Jason and the Argonauts their finest.
A golden fleece awaits at the end of the world. A gift of the Gods to the far country of Colchis, the fleece has guaranteed its prosperity and peace. Jason hopes it will do the same as an inspiration to the people of Thessaly. The usurper Pelias has ruled Thessaly for twenty years after killing King Aristo, Jason's father. Now come of age, Jason desires to take back the throne and free the minds and hearts of his people.
The shipbuilder Argos builds a mighty ship for the voyage to the end of the world and a contest is held to select the crew. Among the crew is a spy and saboteur, Acastus, son of Pelias. Brave men and foolhardy men will join Jason and each has their part to play.
The Goddess Hera is Jason's champion. Zeus has granted her the gift of five times in which she may assist our intrepid and righteous hero. Jason will need that help despite his independent streak that some on Mount Olympus see as blasphemy.
The cast of Jason and the Argonauts is an interesting mix of British actors steeped in tradition and Shakespeare, the glamorous Nancy Kovak as Medea, Honor Blackman a year before Goldfinger, a beginner for the lead in Todd Armstrong, and Italian speaking extras. The
The Italian location shoot, the production, and set design, plus the clever screenplay that surrounds Harryhausen's eye-filling and memorable creatures are combined with the magnificent score of Bernard Herrmann, creating an indelible classic motion picture.
Jason and the Argonauts was the final of four Schneer and Harryhausen films scored by Bernard Herrman following The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, 1958, The Three Worlds of Gulliver, 1960, and Mysterious Island, 1961.
Stentorian and martial, tender and sweet, and rousing and frightening, Herrmann's score is inextricably linked to the movie's visuals creating an exciting and memorable movie experience. As is a musician's purview, Herrmann made liberal use of what they would have called on Broadway, trunk songs. The child in me was unaware of the snatches of Vertigo or North by Northwest and other scores now familiar to the adult film fan. Their recognition somehow makes the experience grander.
Click on the highlighted word or phrase to hear selections from Bernard Herrmann's score, such as Jason and the Argonauts TITLE MUSIC.
TALOS is peeved.
Phineas's plague of HARPIES
The CLASHING ROCKS
Phineas: "They speak for themselves, don't they?"
The Golden Fleece is protected by the HYDRA
The Argonauts BATTLE the Hydra's teeth.
King Aeetas: "Hecate, Queen of Darkness, revenge yourself against the Thessalians. Deliver to me the children of the hydra's teeth; the children of the night!"
Zeus: "Let them enjoy a calm sea, a fresh sea, and each other. The girl is pretty and I was always sentimental. But for Jason, there are other adventures. I have not yet finished with Jason. Let's continue the game another day."
Of interest: Bernard Herrmann (1911-1975) and Ray Harryhausen (1920-2013) were both born on June 29th. It is said of those born under the sign of Cancer that they are emotional, sensitive, and self-protective. Diligent and loyal once committed to their work these creatives are unstoppable.