Jason and the Argonauts (1963) Poster


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.
Ray Harryhausen regards this as his best film.
While filming footage of the Argo off the coast of Italy, shooting was interrupted when a replica of the Golden Hind sailed into view. The British television series Sir Francis Drake (1961) happened to be filming in the same location. Producer Charles H. Schneer shouted, "Get that ship out of here. You're in the wrong century!" at the British crew, dispelling any tensions that arose from both shots being lost.
After Ray Harryhausen received the Gordon E. Sawyer Award recognizing his contributions of the film industry at the Oscars' Science & Technical Ceremony in 1992, Tom Hanks, the host of the event, said "Some people say Citizen Kane (1941) or Casablanca (1942). I say 'Jason and the Argonauts' is the greatest movie ever made."
This British / American film was filmed and released in the waning years of the Italian-produced sword-and-sandal / mythological muscleman movies. Many of those productions dealt with Jason. Most unusual for the time was the casting of British actor Nigel Green as Hercules. Although he was very tall, he lacked the bodybuilder physique that moviegoers were used to seeing for this character. Although film was not able to match the scale of spectacle of the European productions, the elaborate special effects by Ray Harryhausen gave it the look of a more expensive production, contributing to its box-office success.
After the success of Sergio Leone's The Colossus of Rhodes (1961) (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.
Colchis, the location of the Golden Fleece, is an actual place on the East Coast of the Black Sea, in western Georgia.
In the early stages of story development the twin sea monsters Scylla and Charybdis, a centaur, and the three-headed dog Cerberus were intended to appear.
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.
The 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, The Invisible Man (1958).
The skeletons' shields are adorned with designs of other Ray Harryhausen creatures, including an octopus and the head of the Ymir from 20 Million Miles to Earth (1957).
Presumably in order to capitalize on the success of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958), Ray Harryhausen originally conceived of the film as "Sinbad in the Age of Muses". The story would still have been set in ancient Greece and would have involved Sinbad joining Jason in the search for the Golden Fleece.
Contrasting with Bernard Herrmann's all-string score for Psycho (1960), the soundtrack was made without a string section. This leaves the brass and percussion to perform the heroic fanfares, and the woodwinds along with additional instruments (such as the harp) to dominate in the more subtle and romantic parts.
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 (1955), Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953), 5 Fingers (1952) and others, and reworking of passages from North by Northwest (1959), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Vertigo (1958) scores, among others.
Nigel Green (Hercules) and Douglas Wilmer (Pelias) would both later play Fu Manchu's arch-enemy Sir Denis Nayland Smith in films starring Christopher Lee as the Chinese criminal mastermind: Green in The Face of Fu Manchu (1965) and Wilmer in The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966) and The Vengeance of Fu Manchu (1967).
Ray Harryhausen stated that he wanted to avoid the Italian muscle man stereotype present in films at that time when casting Hercules.
Curiously, for the first time in the history of the trade name of Ray Harryhausen's "Dynamation" process, this film never carried the "Dynamation" brand, even in the opening credits. Early publicity materials did, however, advertise this movie as being filmed in "Dynamation 90" (90 referring to the double 45-degree exposure in the sodium-light traveling matte process, used in this film, and some of Ray's previous films as well), but was reportedly dropped for being "too gimmicky". Additionally, the original pre-release prints carried the film's original title card, "Jason and the Golden Fleece" (which can be seen on the 1992 LaserDisc release by Criterion), before deciding on the film's eventual title, "Jason and the Argonauts", on March 1, three months prior to the film's release in early June.
King Aeetes's Guard Captain is dubbed.
Although Nancy Kovack (Medea) is billed second in the opening credits, she does not appear until 66 minutes into the 99 minute film.
In early press material, Mario Nascimbene was credited as the music composer of this film. This was because Nascimbene was considered, in case Bernard Herrmann turned down the offer to compose the score this film (which he didn't). In later interviews, Nascimbene claimed he never heard of the film (most probably meaning Herrmann accepted the offer before Nascimbene could be approached). He did, however, go on to compose the music score for another Ray Harryhausen film, One Million Years B.C. (1966), which was also directed by Don Chaffey (who directed this film).
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While the original release made no mention of Harryhausen's trademark Dynamation process, the 1978 re-release ads touted the film as being "in spectacular Dynarama."
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Terence Stamp was considered for the role of Jason.
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