Home > Greatest Scores of the Twentieth Century, Reviews > SINBAD THE SAILOR – Roy Webb


September 6, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments


Original Review by Craig Lysy

In March of 1944 RKO Studios producer William Pereira proposed to studio executives to follow-up on the success of their swashbuckler film The Spanish Main (1945) with a new effort in the genre. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., who had just returned from a five-year WWII stint in the US Navy, would star in the titular role. Stephen Ames who produced “The Spanish Main” was assigned to produce the film, and he hired John Twist and George Worthing Yates to write an original screenplay based on the eighth voyage of Sinbad. A budget of $2.5 million dollars was provided and Richard Wallace was tasked with directing. A fine cast was assembled to join Fairbanks including Maureen O’Hara as Shireen, Walter Slezak as the villain Melik, Anthony Quinn as the Emir of Daibul, George Tobias as Abbu, and Mike Mazurki as Yusuf. The story draws inspiration from the 8th Voyage of Sinbad, which is set in the early 9th century C.E. and involves the search for the lost treasure of Alexander the Great. Sinbad secures a ship but must forge an uneasy alliance of convenience with villainous Melik who stole his map, memorized it, and then burnt it. After many adventures and overcoming Melik’s tracheary, Sinbad succeeds with his quest to secure the treasure, and wins the hand of the beautiful Shireen. The film was a modest success earning a profit of $300,000. critical success was tepid and it secured no Academy Award nominations. The film’s poor performance pretty much ended the viability of the swashbuckling genre.

Roy Webb was RKO’s studio workhorse and was naturally assigned to the project. Upon viewing the film, he quickly realized that this would be a challenging assignment as the film was at once an adventure, a fantasy, a romance and a comedy. His music would need to speak to, and capture all of these plot elements for director Richard Wallace to realize his vision. To support his soundscape Webb composed ten themes and some motifs, including; The Arabian Theme supports the Persian Gulf setting of Sinbad’s tales of adventure, past and present. It offers a meandering oriental melody borne by exotic woodwinds Araba, which dance over soft portentous drums. The theme is the unifying narrative thread of the score and one which establishes the film’s time and setting. Sinbad’s Theme supports our hero and carries his bold and irrepressible optimism. A repeating twelve-note line by forthright confident strings brimming with optimism carry our hero ever forward, unstoppable. Abbu’s Theme supports Sinbad’s trusted first mate. It emotes as a light and bouncy danza comica by woodwinds, which support his happy go lucky persona. Shireen’s Theme serves as both her identity, but also a love theme for her and Sinbad. It is borne by unabashed strings romantico, and the long-lined melody calls to, and stirs the heart, ultimately expressing a fervent ascent of yearning, which carries us upwards and speaks of love’s desire. When expressed by a solo violin its articulation becomes rapturous.

The Deryabar Theme speaks to the unknown mythic island where legend holds the treasure of Alexander the Great lies buried. It is rendered by horns reale of the past, joined by alluring strings, which are draped in Arabic auras of mystery. The Destiny Theme supports Sinbad’s view that his salvage of the Prince Ahmed portends him achieving a great destiny. Aspirational ten-note phrasing by hopeful strings ascend with warm horns nobile to support Sinbad’s dreams of fame and glory if he should find Alexander the Great’s treasure. The Nautical Theme supports scenes on the sea in which we see the Prince Ahmed and/or dromond sailing. It emotes as a sweeping eleven-note construct of flowing strings languido empowered by warm horns nobile. For our three villains we have the Emir’s Theme, which speaks to his discontent and lust for power and treasure. Forlorn woodwinds weave a tapestry of menace over a soft drum cadence. When angry the theme can become strident or militaristic. Melik’s Theme supports our villain Jamal’s alter-ego and speaks to covert treachery, and duplicity. Lurking woodwinds sinistre weave a tapestry full of cunning and menace as he covets the treasure of Alexander and will stop at nothing to obtain it. Jamal’s Theme offers a grim eight-note descending statement by horns of menace, which speak to his sinister purpose. Lastly, there is regretfully no commercial release of the soundtrack, as such I will review the score directly from the film using film-time indices.

“Main Title” offers a score highlight. It reveals the RKO studio logo displayed and supported by portentous drums. At 00:08 we flow into the roll of the opening credits, which display against a background of Arabic buildings set against azure shies. Webb weaves the meandering melody of the Arabian Theme borne by exotic woodwinds Arabo, which perfectly establish the film’s setting. At 0:20 dire horns resound as the camera descends carried by harp glissandi to a fountain where at 0:31 we flow into the sumptuous Love Theme borne by unabashed strings romantico. At 1:06 an fervent ascent of yearning carries us upwards and speaks of love’s desire. At 1:30 the transfer of the melodic line to solo violin is exquisite. At 1:50 fanfare dramatico close the credits as onscreen script informs us of a tale of adventure by Sinbad the Sailor along the golden shores of Persia during the time of Caliph Harun-Al-Rashid. Portentous drums and woodwinds Arabo voice the Arabian Theme, which support as new script reveals; “But who, shall we surmise gave him immortality? Who, more than all other sons of Allah, spread the glory to the name of Sinbad? Who else, O brother but – ”. A harp glissandi misterioso ushers us into the film proper at 2:33 in “Sinbad’s Tales” where we see an animated Sinbad regaling a group of men with an adventurous tale. At 4:23 harmonized horns sound as Sinbad speaks of the Prince of Deryabar. As he weaves his tale, the Deryabar Theme speaks to this unknown land where legend holds the treasure of Alexander the Great lies buried. As he captures the men’s interest, he is supported by horns reale of the past sound, joined by alluring strings, which are draped in Arabic auras of mystery. At 5:08 he begins to tell the tale of his eighth voyage, announced by horns of the past and strings misterioso.

At 5:21 we segue atop the Emir’s Theme into “The Emir’s Desire/Princess Shireen/Melik/Jamal”, which offers a score highlight where Webb introduces several of his primary themes. The Emir’s Theme speaks to his dominion as Emir of Daibu over the land across the Indus River, as well as his discontent and lust for greater power and wealth. Forlorn woodwinds weave a tapestry of sadness and longing over a soft drum cadence as we see his thoughts of princess Shireen. We flow into her bedchamber with the sumptuous strings of her theme at 5:49 as we see her enjoying her life of opulent comfort and jewels. At 6:21 we flow into the study of the villain Melik atop woodwinds sinistre, which weave a tapestry full of cunning and menace as he covets the treasure of Alexander and will stop at nothing to obtain it. At 6:51 Sinbad’s tale speaks of a spirit of evil known as Jamal, a phantom of a man also in pursuit of treasure. At 7:00 we segue into “Shipwreck” where we see a ship driven by storm winds towards the rocks as horns irato sound. Yet at 7:12 the music brightens with hope as Sinbad and his first mate Abbu see the foundering ship and jump into the waters in a race against a fisherman craft speeding to claim salvage rights. Webb propels the race with his windswept Nautical Theme, which emotes as a sweeping eleven-note construct of flowing strings languido empowered by warm horns nobile. Sinbad and Abbu catch a trailing rope from the fisherman boat and are pulled long. At 7:54 we surge on a heroic iteration of Sinbad’s Theme when the oarsman discovers them and a fight ensues with Sinbad and Abbu succeeding in capsizing the boat. Horns of defeat resound with harp glissandi as Sinbad and Abbu swim past the hapless fishermen.

At 8:48 we segue into “Prince Ahmed” carried by determined Sinbad’s Theme as he declares she is too beautiful a ship to die. They board the ship and at 9:20 the music darkens on dire horn declarations as they find the crew dead. Webb unleashes a stormy orchestral torrent as Sinbad and Abbu grab the rudder and attempt to steer the ship clear of the rocks. The music brightens and confident horns resound as we see the ship successfully steered to safety. Eerie strings weave a tapestry of death as Sinbad explores the ship and determines that the men all drank poison. At 11:10 a repeating four-note woodwind misterioso carries Sinbad into the captain’s cabin. As he enters at 11:18 a tentative rendering of his theme carries his progress as he searches the room and finds many riches. At 11:41 foreboding horns sound as he discovers a map, joined by surging strings of optimism replete with harp glissandi as he reads; “The Sea of Oman. True course followed by Alexander The Macedonian”. We close warmly on French horns as Sinbad absorbs the discovery. At 12:07 the woodwind misterioso returns as he closes an aft window banging in the breeze and makes a remarkable discovery that his pendent matches the window image of a Deryabar’s mountainous island and star. At 12:23 we segue into “Return to Port” as we see the Ahmed sailing into Basra carried by the harp glissandi draped Nautical Theme. At 12:28 The light and bouncy danza comica by the woodwinds of Abbu’s Theme support his happy news that the ship is theirs by law of salvage. At 13:06 Abbu asks if he intends to sell the ship quickly, but Sinbad becomes ponderous, supported by the aspirational hopefulness of Destiny Theme, which informs us that he has other plans. The luster and grandeur of the Destiny Theme returns to earth as Abbu questions Sinbad’s choice.

We segue 13:43 with trepidation atop a misterioso of woodwinds and eerie strings into “Theft” when Sinbad discovers that the map has been stolen. At 14:08 tremolo violins usher in the a portentous Deryabar Theme when he says he remembers just one word – Deryabar. Sinbad is ecstatic and we blossom on the Destiny Theme as he prepares to seek his destiny. At 14:40 we segue into “Auction” atop heraldic drums, which announce the auction of the Prince Ahmed. When Sinbad protests, the Khan of Basra says he has changed the law, but will gift the ship to him if there are no bids. The Khan’s departure is supported by grim drums. Sinbad schemes and tells the crowd of buyer’s dark tales, which suggests the ship is cursed, so no one bids until a woman calls out 1,000 dinars at 19:13. Tremolo violins and a misterioso of woodwinds support her voice, which is hidden behind a palanquin’s curtains. Sinbad gets into a bidding war with her, and at 19:54 pulls back the curtains to reveal Shireen, whose beauty captivates him. The Love Theme joins, but dissipates as the bidding war continues. Webb builds tension as the two contest until 20:34 when the Love Theme returns when she notices his pendent and addresses him as the Prince of Deryabar. He accepts the false pretense, woos her and accepts her invitation to visit her tonight. At 22:28 we segue into “Payment” atop comedic woodwinds as Sinbad is challenged to pay his bid of $20,000 dinars. We flow into silliness when Sinbad cuts the auctioneer’s money belt, which empties into Abbu’s pockets. The musical buffoonery continues as they dupe the auctioneer and pay him with his own money!

At 24:14 we segue into “Sinbad and Shireen”, a score highlight, atop woodwinds tranquillo as Shireen frets that the ‘Prince’ has not yet arrived. When a Myna bird mocks her saying “Daibul! Daibul!” comic woodwinds join as she swooshes the evil bird away. Strings of uncertainty join as she plots to gain knowledge of Deryabar from him. Bubbling woodwinds join at 25:22 as Sinbad arrives carried by a formal rendering of his theme. Spritely strings and playful woodwinds enter at 25:59 as Sinbad and Abbu scramble to give alms to a blind man. We move into buffoonery as the Myna bird cries out to go south, which elicits Abbu’s departure. Sinbad enters her pool garden carried by a reserved rendering of his theme, and answering to the name Prince Ahmed. He does not bear gifts, and she is distrusting, but he wins her heart as Webb supports with a romance for strings with the Love Theme interwoven as he gifts her a rose from her garden. At 31:22 strings of tension rise up and unleash horns of doom as Sinbad fights off an assassin. We close at 31:45 atop dire woodwinds as the bird shouts; “Jamal! Jamal!” Horns sinistre join as Sinbad reads the dropped dagger’s inscription – “Jamal”.

At 32:12 we segue into “Journey to Daibul”, which offers a romantic score highlight. We begin atop the Nautical Theme as we see the Prince Ahmed sailing on the cloud swept seas. At 35:50 Sinbad bring water to his barber Melik, who after drinking he warns, it may be poison. Comic strings and woodwinds support as Melik performs a ritual to detoxify the water as a puzzled Abbu looks on. At 36:14 drums usher in strings of tension as a massive dromond warship approaches from astern. A marcia di minaccia causes anxiety and slowly swells as the armed ship draws near. At 38:01 we flow into a threatening rendering of the Emir Theme as we see him order his ship to pursue Sinbad from a distance. He joins Shireen on his personal deck and it becomes clear she does not share his feelings of love. Webb supports masterfully with a romance of unrequited love atop the Love Theme, which expresses her love for Sinbad, not the Emir. We close eloquently atop a solo violin as she looks at Sinbad’s ship, pulls out the rose he gave her in Basra, and watches its petals scatter in the wind.

Sinbad bonds with Melik during his shave, but disregards his counsel to avoid the port of Daibul. At 46:08 we segue into “Arrival At Daibul” atop the languorous Nautical Theme as we see the Prince Ahmed sailing towards the port of Daibul. At 46:18 comic woodwinds support the silly Myna flying to Sinbad and crying “Daibul! Daibul!” The music becomes foreboding as they see the Emir’s massive dromond also docked at the port. At 47:04 the Nautical Theme returns as Sinbad brings his ship into port. At 47:13 we segue into “Daibu” as the ship docks in Daibu, joined by fluttering aerial strings of flight as Sinbad releases the mischievous bird. Martial snare drums join 48:10 as Melik warns Sinbad not go to the palace. The drum line evolves into a marcia militare as royal troops march in with the captain declaring that the vessel is impounded by royal decree. At 49:12 horns of doom sound as he demands the captain, whom he will take into custody. Comedy enters as Abbu tries to distract and a crewman leads the captain on a ruse. Tension rises until Sinbad exits by diving and tumbling out of the cabin window onto the dock, and then escaping with Abbu carried by scurrying strings. We conclude on playful woodwinds as a bemused Melik looks on.

We segue at 50:13 atop strings energico of flight carrying Sinbad and Abbu’s into “Finding Shireen”, which offers a robust action cue and score highlight. The Flight Motif joins as we see the silly bird flying to a castle turret crying “Shireen! A sad oboe romantico emotes Shireen’s Theme as she regrets the bird cannot disclose more information. At 51:07 dramatic fanfare imperioso resound emoting the Emir Theme, ushering in a marica della morte, which supports a procession to a platform where criminals are beheaded. A drumroll supports the reading of the charges with a massive gong strike declaring the beheading. At 52:49 urgent drums of alarm resound as Sinbad’s presence in the palace is discovered and Webb unleashes a torrent of flight and fight music as Sinbad outwits and evades the hapless palace guards. At 54:20 we segue into “Sinbad Finds Shireen” where we return to Shireen’s personal quarters as she examines a new gown. Webb supports by creating a tranquil ambiance with woodwinds gentile. At 55:07 the Love Theme of solo violin romantico enters when she asks for a rose as we see Sinbad approaching. At 55:04 he surprises her and a comedic tension arises when she threatens to call the guards and he calls her bluff. A Love Theme full of longing joins as he professes his love for her. She is conflicted, and becomes angry when he tries to carry her away. She strikes the gong alarm at 58:08 and all Hell breaks loose when guards flood into the room as Sinbad again tries to outwit and evade the guards. Webb again unleashes his orchestra with some astounding action writing, which perfectly sync with Sinbad’s acrobatics. In the end he is caught by the Emir himself at 1:00:29, who prepares to execute him only to be stopped by Shireen who informs him that he is Prince Ahmed.

The Emir is taken aback, and warmly receives ‘Prince Ahmed’ as Shireen cozzes up to the Emir with defiance in her eyes as she looks at Sinbad. The Emir offers him a gift of his choosing, and after much reflection, Sinbad chooses Shireen’s handmaiden in retribution. The Arabic Theme enters at 1:04:05 as Sinbad and Shireen taunt each other with their eyes, and the Emir states he will accompany the prince back to Deryabar. At 1:04:43 we segue into “Feast” where we see the Emir and Mireen hosting a lavish feast for ‘Prince Ahmed’. Webb supports with an exotic danza Araba as a female dancer entertains. Exotic woodwinds join as Sinbad regals everyone with a tale, with clear mocking allusions to Shireen. At 1:06:02 flight music supports as he adeptly flings a rose to her, saying a rose for the rose of Bagdad, only to have her discard it with disdain. The meandering woodwind esotica line resumes as Sinbad begins a new round of storytelling. He repeatedly blows on a lamp supported by surging tremolo strings, which causes the room to fill with a plume of blue smoke. Discordance grows as people choke on the smoke and the alarm is sounded when the Emir finds that the prince and Shireen have disappeared, and all his guards’ swords are impaled on the ceiling. At 1:08:12 we segue into “Escape” atop a cautious Sinbad’s Theme as we see him seeking escape while carrying a hooded Shireen. A descent motif supports his leap with her from a balcony onto a cypress tree, which bends and safely deposits them into a cart of straw, with him covering them with a blanket. When the cart passes through the city gate where Abbu waits at 1:08:44, Sinbad grabs his pants and pulls him along with them supported by Abbu’s comic theme.

At 1:09:35 we segue into “Escape From Daibu” supported by the languorous Nautical Theme as we see the Prince Ahmed sailing out of the harbor. The theme blossoms as Sinbad orders the ship out to see with renewed confidence and declares; “In the eight month the winds are willing”. At 1:10:18 refulgent violins shimmer as we see a brilliant bright star aglow in the sky, which he says matches the star on the medallion – a sign that they are on the right path. At 1:12:37 Sinbad enters his cabin supported by a stinger as a knife strikes his tunic. Shireen is furious and an aggrieved Love Theme and comedic woodwinds entwine as he jokes and contends with her mercurial feelings toward him. She, and the music soften when he states he brought her along to share in a mountain of gold. Yet the moment is lost with the string line becoming sardonic as he asks her for the location of Deryabar. She laughs at him, relating that she bid on his ship, and the Emir has let him live hoping that he would lead them to Deryabar. At 1:14:56 we segue into “I Am Sinbad!” a stirring score romantic highlight where he discloses that he is merely a sailor named Sinbad. An extended rendering of a plaintive string borne expression of his theme supports the revelation, which earns Shireen’s admiration. At 1:15:58 the Love Theme blossoms as she suggests how much better life would be if he abandoned the gold and lived up to the shining spirit of the tales of him. At 1:16:34 she tries to pull the amulet from him, begging him to give up the quest, yet he refuses, supported by a resolute statement of his theme. They quarrel, he insults her, kisses her, and to our surprise, she grabs him and initiates another kiss. She begs to be released, and he says the door is unlocked as he sits down nonchalantly, fully prepared to let her go. She goes to the door, yet comes back to him carried by the Love Theme as they embrace and kiss, the moment crowned by a blossoming of the Love Theme.

At 1:18:43 we segue into “The Dromond Returns” atop the Nautical Theme, which quickly yields to a martial and menacing Emir’s Theme as the massive dromond closes from astern. The dromond crew prepare the Greek fire and the rowers are whipped for added speed. The Emir decides against the fire, say he prefers live captives. At 1:19:30 a tremolo string misterioso supports the sight of a fog bank, towards which Sinbad orders the helmsman to steer. Tension rises and the Emir’s Theme gains monstrous aggression as he orders more speed. The Dromond overtakes the Prince Ahmed and begins firing volleys of arrows. A tension surge at 1:21:21 supports Melik shooting the Dromond helmsman, which gives them an opportunity to lose them in the fog as the dromond veers away. At 1:21:44 strings misterioso carry the Prince Ahmed into the fog. An orchestral swell of anger supports a traitor setting the Prince Ahmed sails aflame, alerting the dromond of their location. Swirling strings and dire horns support the fire and Shireen throwing the torch overboard. But Sinbad believes she lite the fire, comes to her, only to be bludgeoned from behind by the traitor as the orchestra shrieks. Horns feroce support the strangulation of the traitor by a crewman. At 1:23:25 aggrieved strings rise in pain as Mireen takes off Sinbad’s amulet and prepares to throw it overboard. We close on a crescendo of terror, which erupts as she looks up to see the dromond about to ram.

At 1:23:56 we segue into “Prisoners” atop a drum cadence of doom as the crew is captured and sentence to be chained at the oars. The music darkens as Mireen informs the Emir that Sinbad did not know the location of Deryabar, but his barber did. At 1:26:00 a grim rendering of Sinbad’s Theme joins as Mireen hands the Emir his amulet. An aggrieved rendering of the Emir’s Theme joins as he realizes that he still has not gained her heart as she asks that he not kill the prince but instead release him. He departs carried by a grim rendering of his theme intent on determining if she loves him or the prince. The Emir confronts ‘Prince Ahmed’ and declares at 1:28:47 that there is now a new prince supported by grim horns rendering Sinbad’s Theme as he displays ownership of the amulet. A solo oboe doloroso and portentous strings sow auras of death as the Emir informs the ‘Prince’ of his impending martyrdom, a test of Shireen’s devotion. A dancing solo flute weaves to and fro as the Emir informs him how he will determine just where Shireen’s heart lies. At 129:32 wes segue into “Sinbad Escapes” as strings irato surge on a crescendo of tension when the ‘Prince’ rebukes the Emir. At 1:29:58 he pulls out a dagger and takes the Emir hostage as dire woodwinds and strings of death support his retrieval of his amulet. Fluttering woodwinds support his disarming of the guards joined by horns of doom as they discover another dagger labelled “Jamal”. At 1:30:45 we segue into “Jamal Revealed” as strings misterioso usher in Jamal’s Theme by grim, low register strings of menace when he removes his cap, and drops the façade of Melik. He admits to poisoning the crew, and declares the map is destroyed, yet lives on in his mind. A shift of the melody to oboe sinistre supports his proposal that the three join together in common purpose. Malignant strings join as Jamal relates that he could have killed the prince while shaving, but spared him thanks to a higher wisdom. At 1:32:08 Sinbad sheaths his dagger as the grim strings of Jamal’s Theme join with drums of fate to voice victory.

At 1:32:28 we segue into a score highlight “Deryabar” atop portentous drums as Jamal advises that the nearby island is Deryabar, which has treacherous currents. The Deryabar Theme sounds at 1:32:46 on alluring horns of danger as the Emir absorbs the revelation. Sinbad is overjoyed and we soar on strings of joy voicing the Nautical Theme as we see Sinbad, Shireen, Jamal, and the Emir with his guards boating to the island. A sweeping and romanticized rendering of the Deyabar Theme brings us to a dock on Deryabar, which becomes pensive as they disembark and look about. At 1:34:04 we segue into “Discovery of Alexander’s Palace” atop fanfare reale, which resound joined by a dramatic orchestral surge as as a guard declares the sight of Alexander’s castle. Everyone rushes to join him in viewing its glistening white architecture atop a hill. We close on a meandering woodwind misterioso as they prepare to journey to the palace. At 1:34:34 we segue into “Alexander’s Palace” atop a processione esotica replete with muted horns reale and undercurrents of menace, which supports their arrival at the palace.

This crucial film narrative scene is unscored. “Aga” reveals an old man named Aga with another old man attendant greeting them. A swaggering Sinbad approaches him, displays the amulet, and declares your son has returned. Aga affirms the true medallion, and hopes that Sinbad is indeed his son. Jamal explains how they arrived, and Aga extends hospitality to his house, and all that it contains. When asked by Jamal of the treasure, Aga speaks in parables, which no one can fathom, adding that he has killed to safeguard the safety of his son and the amulet. He then explains how he came to Deryabar and found happiness that he had never known, as the Emir and Jamal grow frustrated. Shireen injects to not disclose the secret of the treasure as they will kill your son. The Emir threatens her, is silenced by AGA, and Shireen continues, disclosing this as she values the life of his son. The Emir is enraged at her betrayal and he and Jamal both pull swords and threaten to kill Aga’s son (Sinbad) if he does not disclose the location of the treasure. As Aga begins to speak, Sinbad shouts stop, as I am not your son, but instead a fraud named Sinbad the sailor. He then disarms Jamal, pulls a vial from his tunic and advises the Emir he was going to poison him and his crew. Jamal denies this but Sinbad pours him a glass and he is ordered to drink. He does so, and survives, which outrages the Emir who prepares to force Aga to disclose the treasure, while casting Shireen aside to be sold into slavery.

At 1:45:25 we segue into “Aga Reveals His Secret” atop horns dramatico as Sinbad leaps to save her and is overcome by the guards, who take both away. An ominous Deryabar Theme sounds as Aga declares that they have earned the fate of all who come for the wealth of Deryabar, and instructs them to press their hand on the fountain’s lotus petal to gain the treasure. A misterioso carries Jamal to the fountain with dire horns sounding as he presses the lotus. A descent motif supports the fountain’s water draining out ending in radiant harp glissandi as the treasure is revealed. Dire horns declare the Deryabar Theme as Jamal lusts for the treasure. At 1:47:02 we segue into “Sinbad is Rescued” atop dire horns and strings dramatico as Aga’s men subdue the Emir’s guards and free Sinbad, with scurrying woodwinds carrying the captain’s flight back to warn the Emir. Warm strings of paternal love support Aga telling Sinbad, his good son, to go and find Shireen. Sinbad is thankful and filled with joy and departs. Back at the fountain, Jamal sits on the treasure as guards begin its removal. Chattering woodwinds of alarm enter as the captain informs the Emir of Sinbad’s escape. At 1:47:47 we segue into “The Emir’s Rage” supported by the angry menace of his theme as he declares he will take the treasure, kill everyone on the island, and then incinerate it with Greek fire. A grim procession supports men transporting the treasure as Sinbad looks on. At 1:38:38 we segue into “Jamal’s Death” as eerie portentous strings voice Jamal’s Theme, when he warns the Emir to be wary of Sinbad. A slow descent of expiration to the abyssal depths of the orchestra supports Jamal’s passage to death as he admits that he intended to poison his crew, and that now, that he had found the treasure, there was nothing left to live for. Drums grave and dire horn declarations support the aftermath of his passing, with a diminuendo on woodwinds as we hear “Dead” repeating in the Emir’s mind with a parting camera shot of the poison vial laying on the floor.

At 1:50:03 we segue atop the Nautical Theme into “Sinbad Escapes” with an exterior shot of the dromond, joined by harsh dissonant horns and strings as Shireen is forcibly taken aboard. Swirling strings of anger surge as she pulls out a knife and struggles with the lone guard as Sinbad cuts himself out of a sack and subdues the guard. Horns of alarm sound as Abbu shouts Sinbad, which alerts the deck guard, but comic woodwinds distract as the Myna bird circles above crying “Sinbad!” Strings and horns festoce join as one by one Sinbad kicks guards overboard. We shift to strings of cruelty as the guard begins whipping Sinbad’s imprisoned crew on deck, which builds on a tension crescendo as Sinbad swings down and pummels the guard. His crew gain the key and begin freeing themselves supported by a rising crescendo of suspense. At 1:51:47 we segue into “The Emir Returns”, which reveals Webb building a slowly rising tension as the Sinbad’s crew is unshackled. They slowly begin takeing over the ship as the Emir boasts that his wealth will allow him to conquer the world. A string ostinato of tension launches at 1:52:58 a segue into “Sinbad Takes Over the Dromond” as a martial statement of his theme supports overcoming the guards who delivered the treasure aboard. Returning to the Emir, disquieting woodwinds portend doom as the Myna bird circles crying “Sinbad!” A dire Deryabar Theme sounds as Sinbad orders the first volley of Greek fire, whose flight is supported by a soaring sustain of death. A beleaguered Emir’s Theme supports his order to come about. A second volley barely misses the Emir’s boat, which causes a panic as we see his crew bail out leaving him alone. He curses them for cowardly disloyalty.

At 1:54:33 we segue in “Death of the Emir” as Sinbad orders another volley with greater precision. We build on a crescendo dramatico, which unleashes at 1:54:53 a volley of death that descends and smites the Emir in a fiery explosion. At 1:55:07 we segue back to the present in “Sinbad’s Tales/Sinbad’s Departure” atop the Arabian Theme as he shouts “Believers, doubters and brothers of Basra” and holds up some of Deryabar’s treasure as proof. They covet his treasure, but he rebukes then saying it is a worthless as the desert sands. He laughs and departs carried by woodwinds of flight and at 1:55:50 a resplendent Deryabar Theme sounds as they ask him for its location. He answers, it is here, pointing to his heart, here, pointing to his head, and here, as he grabs Shireen. As our lovers depart, they are carried by a sumptuous Love Theme as we see their silhouettes embracing and kissing against a fiery sunset lit sail. We close the film atop the Love Theme, which ends in a refulgent flourish as we see the dromond sailing forth on Sinbad’s adventurous next voyage! At 1:56:35 we segue into “End Credits” with a reprise of the Nautical Theme, which ends in a glorious flourish as the dromond sails to her destiny.

A catastrophic house fire in 1961 destroyed Roy Webb’s musical library of manuscripts and films scores. The loss was tragic as none of his film score canon survives outside of the 266 films he scored. There are no commercial releases of his film scores available, which for me is a problem that must be rectified. Upon viewing the film, Webb quickly realized that this would be a challenging assignment as the film was at once an adventure, a fantasy, a romance and a comedy. To that end he composed a multiplicity of ten themes, which were wonderful applied throughout the film. He masterfully spoke to the film’s setting with his oriental draped Arabian Theme with its exotic, meandering melody borne by woodwinds Araba. The sumptuous Love Theme offered classic Golden Age sensibilities and fully embraced Maureen O’Hara’s resplendent beauty, achieving a breath-taking synergy. Our hero Sinbad’s Theme spoke to his swagger, charisma and confidence, brilliantly animating his adventures, acrobatics and heroism. Themes for Sinbad’s destiny as well as scenes of sailing were just outstanding in the conception and execution. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. brought both athleticism and acrobatics to his performance with him often outwitting and evading the Emir’s hapless guards. Webb’s kinetic action writing was propulsive, fun, and spot on in supporting Fairbanks’ antics. But I must say, his comedic writing for his Sinbad’s and Abbu’s escapades, and the ridiculous Myna bird, was just as brilliant, and succeeded well in expressing the film’s lighter and comic moments. This film would have gone south had Wallace tried to keep it serious, indeed by not taking itself seriously, the film kept its excitement, light-hearted adventure, and entertained, with Webb’s music largely responsible. Folks, a Roy Webb score is a road less traveled, which is a tragedy as he for me is an unsung hero of the Golden Age. I consider this score a treasure, which masterfully imbues its film with adventure, romance and comedy. Until such time that a film score label records this score, I highly recommend you listen to it while viewing the film.

Editor’s note: the only recorded music which seems to be available of Webb’s score is a 5½ suite on the 1995 Cloud Nine Records album ‘The Film Music of Roy Webb,’ which includes music from Webb scores such as Out Of The Past, Bedlam, Crossfire, Journey Into Fear, Dick Tracy, Mighty Joe Young, Notorious, The Ghost Ship, They Won’t Believe Me, The Locket, Cornered, and The Curse of the Cat People, as well as Sinbad The Sailor.

For those of you unfamiliar with the score, I have embedded a YouTube link to the Main Titles; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4v__DSc3Xyk

Track Listing:


Unreleased (1947)

Music composed and conducted by Roy Webb. Orchestrations by Gil Grau. Score produced by Constantin Bakaleinikoff.

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