Creature Features: Cinematheque pays tribute to Ray Harryhausen

The American Cinematheque and the Visual Effects Society are joining forces next month to pay homage to the pioneering stop-motion special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen, who died in London on May 7 at age 92.

“The King of Stop-Motion: Ray Harryhausen Remembered” opens June 6 at the Aero Theatre in Santa Monica with 1958’s “The 7th Voyage of Sinbad,” directed by Nathan Juran and starring Kerwin Matthews and Kathryn Grant, who became Bing Crosby’s second wife. The fantasy features several of Harryhausen’s memorable creatures, including two-headed birds, a Cyclops, dragons and sword-fighting skeletons. The program concludes with the 40th-anniversary screening of “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad,” with John Phillip Law.

The Aero presents a triple Harryhausen treat on June 7 with 1961’s “Mysterious Island,” based on Jules Verne’s classic tale, the infamous 1966 “One Million Years B.C.,” starring Raquel Welch clad in what could only be called a prehistoric bikini, and the rarely seen 1969 “The Valley and the Gwangi,” with James Franciscus.


PHOTOS: Ray Harryhausen — Career in pictures

One of his best films, 1963’s “Jason and the Argonauts,” which features the army-of-living-skeletons sequence, screens June 8, along with his last feature, 1981’s “Clash of the Titans,” with Harry Hamlin and a stop-motion Kraken.

On tap for June 9 are two sci-fi adventures, 1956’s “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers” and 1964’s “First Men on the Moon.”

The Aero celebrates the 60th anniversary of “The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” on June 10. The second feature is “Mighty Joe Young,” the 1949 ape movie, which gave the young Harryhausen the opportunity to work with Willis O’Brien, the stop-motion legend of “King Kong” who had inspired Harryhausen as a youngster. The film won an Academy Award for visual effects.

And on June 15, the Cinematheque and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are presenting “Early Harryhausen Shorts,” including 1941’s “How to Bridge a Gorge,” 1946’s “Mother Goose Stories” and a 1945 Lucky Strike cigarette commercial.


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