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TORIN THATCHER: The Career of a Great British Character Actor

On the Motion Picture Screen he portrayed a Caribbean "Old School" Pirate, helped Harry Houdini create his illusions, was seen as a Roman Senator and a Legendary Greek Hero of the "Trojan War". This actor also created a Classic Fantasy Evil Magician who battled "Sinbad the Sailor" among his other roles. His name was Torin Thatcher and this is a look at some of my favorite characters he created.

Torin Herbert Erskine Thatcher was born on January 15, 1905 in Bombay, now Mumbai, India. In 1905 Bombay was still one of the centers of power in British controlled India. During the historical period between 1858 and 1947 known as "The British Raj".

Torin's father was a policeman named Torin James Blair Thatcher and his mother Edith Rachel Batty Thatcher. Edith was the youngest daughter of the Honorable Justice Sir Herbert Batty a puisne judge, British common law, on the Bombay High Court.

On his mother's side Torin was the Great-Grandson and Grandson of British Generals in the Indian Army. His lineage going back to Officers fighting alongside the Commander and Chief of all British Military in India. The legendary Major-General Robert Clive "Clive of India" in 1755.

Between 7 and 18 years of age Torin Thatcher attended the "Bedford School" established back in 1552, By graduation, in 1923, his plans of being a teacher were changing having been "bitten", as they say, by the acting bug. At this time the young Thatcher enrolled in "The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art" the major school for young British actors.

1927 was an auspicious year for the young actor. As a member of the prestigious "Old Vic" company Torin Thatcher made his London debut in a production of William Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew". In the years that would follow Thatcher would appear in over 50 productions of Shakespeare's plays on stage and 20 plus productions of the works of George Bernard Shaw. The actor legitimate stage work a distinguish career in itself, but also in 1927 Torn first appeared on the motion picture screen in a film version of "The Merchant of Venice".

In 1936 Torin Thatcher had the 17th and final on screen credited role of an "Observer" of the title character in H.G.Wells' "The Man Who Could Work Miracles" co-written by Wells and co-directed by Alexander Korda. The screenplay revised the original story and added the fear of the growing threat of Communism, Fascism and Nazism,

The picture had an interesting cast of up and coming British actors. "The Man Could Work Miracles" starred Roland Young in the title role. Young would become "Topper" in a series of American comedy motion pictures about a man dealing with the ghosts of his two best friends. This motion pictured also featured George Sanders as another Observer. Ralph Richardson, Ernest Thesiger and George Zucco.

For those of my readers who may be interested in the work of the Alexander Korda and his two brothers known for 1940's "The Thief of Bagdad" and 1942's "The Jungle Book". You can found my article on them at:



Later in 1936 Thatcher had a non-screen credited role as a conspirator in Alfred Hitchcock's "Sabotage" aka: "The Women Alone" starring Sylvia Sidney and Oscar Homolka. This picture would be followed by 25 other appearances until the actor took up the family business of the military after the Second World War broke out.

During that pre-Second World War period were two interesting titles that unfortunately I could not get a plot for. These were 1938's "Broadway" and the following years "The Day is Gone" in which Torin Thatcher was the star. The interesting point here is that the two pictures were made for television films. In 1929 a company called "Baird Television" started limited broadcasting in the UK and one year later was on air the five days a week. In 1932 the BBC started broadcasting four hours a day. Which of these two networks (?) Thatcher's films were on I could not locate.

In 1940 the actor married Marguerite Mildred Daniel. They would be married until her death in 1951 and the couple would have one child. In 1952 Torin Thatcher married Ann Le Borgne and would be married to this lady until his death in 1981, 

In 1942 Army Lieutenant Torin Thatcher, screen credited as such, appeared in a propaganda film entitled "The Next of Kin". In this motion picture he portrayed a German General.

 
Thatcher would not be seen in any other motion pictures until he was discharged from the Army in 1946. Back in 1944 the actor found himself on leave in New York City with only six shillings in his pocket. However, he discovered that American's treated the military very well when it came to seeing the theater. He started making the rounds of the Broadway shows and was amazed when he found somebody who not only knew his work, but could recite every film and role he had portrayed prior to the war.

At this time Torin Thatcher found himself accepted into the American acting community and made several major contacts that would help him after the war. Thatcher would be discharged from the Army with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Immediately upon discharge he appeared as "Bentley Drummle" in director  David Lean's class version of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations"

 

In 1950 Thatcher took his family and moved across the pond to work in both the American film industry and legitimate theater. His first American motion picture was also in 1950 "The Black Rose" starring Tyrone Power and Orson Wells. In this motion picture Torin Thatcher was one of  12 actors without on screen credit. A series of appearances on American television shows followed until 1952 and my reader reaches the first of the motion pictures I wanted to discuss in detail.

When I first saw "The Crimson Pirate".  I was wearing pajama's in the big seat of the car at a Drive-In theater and fell in love with the film. The picture is now described by both Jerry Bruckheimer and Johnny Depp as containing the "Grandfather" of "Captain Jack Sparrow". That title character was "Captain Vallo" and he was portrayed by Burt Lancaster. The movie co-starred Lancaster's old circus acrobat partner and childhood friend Nick Cravat as first mate Ojo.

 

The picture is described by many critics as a pure:
Tongue-in-cheek comedy-adventure film
Which immediately becomes the connection with the current "Pirates of the Caribbean" series. For those interested in Lancaster and Cravat's circus background and their other motion pictures together. This link will take my reader to my blog article:


Appearing in the fifth major role as Vallo's second mate was Torin Thatcher portraying "Humble Bellows". A name that the dialogue by Roland Kibbee played upon at times. Below Thatcher's character is having a little fun on a captured Spanish frigate of war, He stand beside two of the other pirates dressed up as Spanish crewmen to fool the Governor of the Island of Cobra.

 

When he returned to England to film  "The Crimson Pirate" Torin Thatcher took his family with him. As this American motion picture was filmed partly at the Teddington Television Studios in London and on the Italian island of Ischia. Both locations standing in for the Spanish Caribbean.

In the cast at 10th billing was a young British actor still finding his way named Christopher Lee. Lee played the Military Attache on the Island of Cobra.

 

In only her 5th film role in the minor part of "La Signorita Gruda's Traveling Companion" was actress Dana Wynter still using her real name of Dagmar Wynter. Wynter would co-star in Don Siegel's 1956 classic science fiction "Invasion of the Body Snatchers".

 
Above Dagmar "Dana" Wynter and Burt Lancaster.

The plot opens with Vallo and his crew capturing a Spanish frigate with Baron Gruda on board. Gruda is on his way to the Island of Cobra to crush a rebellion led by "El Libre". Vallo proposes to his crew that they sell the weapons on board to "El Libre" and keep the frigate for their own. The crafty Gruda counters by offering Vallo a large sum if he captures the rebel leader for him. Vallo agrees, but some of his crew led by "Humble Bellows" complain this isn't pirate business. Captain Vallo is able to bring the crew around, When the amount of profit in this venture is revealed. Bellows goes along, but isn't convinced as he is an "Old School Pirate".

One thing leads to another and Vallo falls for "El Libre's daughter" Consuelo. Gruda of course tricks everyone and makes a deal with "Humble Bellows". The pirates mutiny against Vallo making Bellows their new Captain. Gruda reneges on his promise to "Humble Bellows" and captures all the pirates.

As part of his plan  to stop Baron Gruda from marrying Consuelo. Vallo and Ojo disguise themselves as women to be presented to the Baron and his bride to be in a ceremony of the island's unwed women. The two are discovered when a  trouble maker in "El Libre's" group  attempts to kill Gruda.

Vallo and Ojo take control of a hidden balloon and use it to escape. Gruda takes Consuelo to his frigate and heads for the open seas. Meanwhile the balloon takes the two over the pirate ship and they use the tie down ropes to lower themselves onto the vessel. There they release the pirate crew and go after Gruda getting within cannon range. "Humble Bellows" has repented his ways and tells Vallo that for his plan, of having the pirates swim under water to Gruda's frigate, to work. Somebody will have to stay on board the pirate vessel to keep up the appearance of an attack. He volunteers and will die as a true pirate.

 

Torin Thatcher looked great as "Humble Bellows", Like the rest of the cast he had fun with his characterization to just the right degree. Even at times upstaging the star Burt Lancaster.

Besides the balloon the film had other Leonardo da Vinci weapons. Riffles and barrels were turned into machine guns, fire shooting cannons were created and even a submarine for the attack on Baron Gruda. Two days before production was to start. Director Robert Siodmak made a drastic change to the screenplay and approach. To his credit he decided to change the film from a serious pirate movie, like the many being shown, into a comedy playing on Lancaster and Cravat's acrobatic skills. The result was an instant classic and as I said a favorite of mine.

Also in 1952 Torin Thatcher kept the pirate look as "Sir Henry Morgan" in "Blackbeard the Pirate" starring Robert Newton and Linda Darnell.

 

The above photo is from a motion picture weapons data base "IMFDb".

My article about Robert Newton and "Blackbeard the Pirate" can be found at:


1953 saw Torin Thatcher in an American made motion picture about a group of Australian soldiers who fought Rommel and earned the nickname of "The Desert Rats". Which also was the title of the motion picture. It takes place in North Africa, but was filmed in Southern California. The movie starred Richard Burton and co-starred in second position James Mason. Mason reprised his role as Erwin Rommel in what was really a cameo appearance. The third co-star was Robert Newton whose role was in comparison to Mason's almost the equal to Burton's in length.

Thatcher had 5th billing as Colonel Barney White.

 

I now come to another 1953 movie and one I want to go into detail about. The film was George Pal's production of "Houdini". The motion picture starred the husband and wife team of Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.

 
Curtis portrayed Harry Houdini, Leigh was Bess the girl who became his wife. The picture was a fictional biography based upon a novel, important here for truth about the illusionist, entitled "Houdini" by Harold Kellock. The screenplay was by Philip Yordan and in third billing was Torin Thatcher as Otto "Houdini's assistant".

 
The film starts with Harry working as both a magician and in costume playing a "Caged Wild Man" on Coney Island. One day while performing his double act he sees Bess in the audience and this leads to marriage. Bess then becomes part of his act.
  
Houdini attends a performance by a major magician known as Fante. At this time no one had ever escaped from a straitjacket and Fante challenges the audience to do it. Harry goes on stage with others and is able through what appears to be self hypnosis escape, but Fante realizes there is something not right and warns him to drop doing it, because it is not natural and dangerous. One of the major fictional elements from the novel.

Harry and Bess travel to Europe where his straight jacket escape and other illusions make him an International star. In Berlin Harry's mother joins the two as he starts a search for an illusive magician known as Von Schweger. Houdini finally locates Von Schweger, but find out he has just died. Von Schweger's assistant Otto, Thatcher, tells Houdini he will now work for him and assist in creating the illusions he wanted to ask the other magician about.

 

Back in New York Harry discovers he is unknown in America. He does a stunt by putting himself in a straitjacket hanging from a flag pole over a busy street. The trick does what Houdini wanted and he becomes a major magician/illusionist in the United States.

Otto and Harry start working on a major escape from a tank full of water. Meanwhile Harry does an escape trick being put into a truck with chains and locks on him. Then the trunk is also secured with more locks and hang over a frozen Detroit river. The chain breaks from the weight and the trunk drops into the ice cold river and Houdini is presumed dead. However, he does escape and hears his mother calling to him. Which leads to finding a way out of the river. Reunited with Bess he receives notice that his mother had died at the time he heard her voice,

This changes his direction as Harry, Bess and Otto start going to spiritualists and mediums in an attempt to reach his mother. The real Harry Houdini started exposing spiritualists as frauds as he became obsessed with contacting his mother. The real Houdini got into a friendly war with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle who believed in Spiritualism. None of this is in this motion picture except a scene of Harry exposing a fake medium.

The water tank escape is completed and Harry while performing it drowns. In real life he did the trick many times, but also did a trick having people attempt to knock him over by hitting Harry in the stomach. It is believed he was not ready for the man who hit him just prior to the water tank escape and he had internal injuries.

 

Prior to the release of "Houdini" George Pal, who had created the animated "Puppetoons", had produced three Academy Award winning motion pictures. The three were 1950's "Destination Moon", 1951's "When Worlds Collide" and 1953's "War of the Worlds".

Torin Thatcher would be seen in a third motion picture in 1953. Back in 1929/30 William Fox founder of the Fox Film Corporation created a 70 mm process called "Grandeur". It failed mainly because of the Great Depression and the costs to theater owners at the time. For the next 23 years the process was forgotten. 

Thatcher's third film in 1953 was the first motion picture to be seen in the recreated "Grandeur Process" now called "CinemaScope. "The Robe" was an epic religious motion picture based upon Lloyd C. Douglas' best selling novel about what happened to the Robe worn by Jesus at his Crucifixion. The picture starred Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature and Michael Rennie.


Two asides concerning the above poster for the motion picture. The first is:

The First Motion Picture in CINEMASCOPE The Modern Miracle You See Without Glasses!
That tag line was going after the popular 3-D motion pictures. Where you did need to wear special glasses to view the picture. It also seemed to imply that "CinemaScope" was 3-D without glasses and some critics and viewers were disappointed.

The second point is note the women's face on the poster. It is not that of Jean Simmons, but a drawing of Jean Peters. Peters was originally to play Diana and had to leave the production because she became pregnant. However, it was considered too costly to change the poster.
In this epic Torin Thatcher portrayed Roman Senator Gallo.


 

The basic story has childhood friends Marcellus and Diana falling in love. At a slave market Marcellus dares to bid against Emperor Tiberius's son Caligula for a slave named Demetrius, Victor Mature. As a result the madden Caligula issues orders transferring Marcellus to Judea. However Judea is misnamed Palestine throughout the film. That name change occurred 120 years after the real events the film revolves around.

In Judea the story of Jesus will unfold and after the Crucifixion the Robe is gambled for by Roman soldiers and Marcellus wins it. Both Marcellus and Demetrius meet Peter, Michael Rennie, and both men become Christians.

Tiberius dies and Caligula becomes Emperor. Marcellus returns to Rome only to be declared an enemy of the state by the new Emperor as he is now a Christian. This will cause Senator Gallio to disown his son calling him an enemy of Rome.


More events unfold leading to the above scene were Marcellus and Diana have been condemned to death by Caligula as Christians and Senator Gallio forgives his son. 


Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh and Torin Thatcher were back together in 1954's "The Black Shield of Falworth". At the time motion pictures set during King Arthur's time had by necessity become the rage. Most Studio's were making such films, because of money tied up in British banks since the start of World War 2. These funds that had gathered interest would cause American Studio's to be double taxed if removed. First by the British for taking the money out and second by the United States for bring the funds into the country.The solution was to use British crews and make films in the UK. Actually blackmail by the British as there would be no tax whatsoever, if filmed there. However, in this case Universal Studio's decided to get into the craze by making a motion picture on their own vast back lot.

Besides Tony Curtis being cast, Brooklyn accent and all, as a Squire in "Merrie Olde England" by Universal Studios. Alan Ladd was actually sent to England to play "The Black Knight" by Columbia Pictures and Robert Wagner became "Prince Valiant" for 20th Century Fox. My article on all three actors and their films can be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/05/yonder-lies-castle-of-my-fodder-tony.html

"The Black Shield of Falworth" was also the first Universal Studio's release in CinemaScope and had a major publicity push especially in Foreign Markets. Where the Widescreen format was still just breaking and drawing in larger audiences.






The main roles in the picture were Tony Curtis as "Myles Falworth". Janet Leigh as "Lady Anne:, David Farrar as "Gilbert Blunt, Earl of Alban", Barbara Rush as "Meg Falworth", Herbert Marshall as "William, Earl of Mackworth" and Torin Thatcher as "Sir James" the Master-at-Arms.

The supporting cast included  such 1950's/1960's future stars as Dan O'Herlihy, Patrick O'Neil, Lance Fuller, Brett Halsey and Craig Hill. Part of the Universal Studios stock company.

The screenplay was written by Oscar Bradley based upon Howard Pyle's classic 1891 novel "Men of Iron". The story tells of how the Earl of Alban was able to get Myles and Meg's father branded a traitor by King Henry IV after he murdered the loyal Knight. Now no one is to mention the name of "Falworth" in England. Myles and Meg are sent to the castle of their father's closest friend the Earl of Mackworth who knows their secret. Myles has a ring with a family crest on it and as he learns to be a squire under Sir James' hard, but fair tutorship. The young Myles attempts to find out the secret of the crest.



Above at left is Dan O'Herlihy's "Prince Hal" who is in love with Barbara Rush's "Meg Falworth" at far right. In center left is Tony Curtis' "Myles Falworth" who is in love with Janet Leigh's "Lady Ann".

Below Torin Thatcher as Sir James with Tony Curtis as Myles.



Sir James pressures Myles at every turn as he, like the Earl of Mackworth, knows his true identity.


Eventually the story moves to the confrontation and challenge by Myles of the Earl of Alban. It this point "King Henry IV" wants to know why a squire should be able to challenge a Knight" It is time to reveal who he is and under his family's Coat of Arms.



The showing of the family shield hidden by the Earl of Mackworth and Sir James causes the expected stir and reaction in King Henry's Court. At first the young "Falworth" is put under arrest, but of course the dual of honor takes place and the family name cleared.



Like with his character of "Humble Bellows" in "The Crimson Pirate". Torin Thatcher has fun with his character of "Sir James" and steals the picture from the other actors when he's on. The movie is pure fun and Hollywood Hokum and is a must for my readers to see.

Thatcher's next 1954 motion picture might have seemed liked home to him. Set in British Raj India during the Indian Mutiny of 1857 was Universal Studio's "Bengal Brigade". Of course it might have seemed strange to have the role of  Indian Officer "Captain Jeffrey Claybourne" portrayed by Rock Hudson.



Three more movie appearances and as many television brought Torin Thatcher to a Homeric role as Ulysses in Director Robert Wise's 1956 epic "Helen of Troy". The CinemaScope motion picture was an American, French and Italian co-production with a large International Cast. Actually accept for the roles of Helen and Paris the majority of the major roles were British actors. The screenplay was loosely based upon Homer's "The Illiad". The original version that I saw when the picture came out had an Overture, but most of it has now been lost and the DVD has a partial reconstruction at the movie's opening.

"Helen" was portrayed by Italian actress Rossana Podesta. Two years earlier she had played Nausciaa in Carlo Ponti's "Ulysses" starring a dubbed into Italian Kirk Douglas. In 1962 she was one of Lot's, Stewart Granger. daughters in Robert Aldrich's "The Last Days of Sodom Gomorrah".

"Paris" was portrayed by French actor Jacques Sernas. He would be known in the United States for Federico Fellini's 1960 "La Dolce Vita" and Samuel Bronson's 1963 "55 Days at Peking".



Among the supporting cast of British actors besides Torin Thatcher were: Sir Cedric Hardwicke as "King Priam of Troy", Stanley Baker as "Achilles", Niall MacGinnis as Helen's husband "King Menelaus", Harry Andrews as "Hector" and Janette Scott as "Cassandra".

Also in the cast portraying Helen's handmaid "Andraste" was a young French actress, She was one movie away from International fame in her husband Roger Vadim's 1956 "And God Created Women". He name was Brigitte Bardot.


Above Torin Thatcher as the scheming "Ulysses". The film has his character as both the calming influence on both "Menelaus" and "Achilles". While actually manipulating the two and the other Greek leaders. Below Brigitte Bardot.





Above Stanley Baker's "Achilles" makes his first entrance in Robert Wise's production and below Niall MacGinnis below as "Menelaus".



Belo
w Prince Paris demonstrates the boxing skills of a Trojan for the Greeks in friendly competition before he steals Helen and starts the war.


Cassandra calls out Helen as the bringer of the destruction of Troy.



This epic picture was made decades before CGI. When you needed a city you built it and when you needed a cast of thousands you hired them.











For the women in the audience Robert Wise had a very romantic love story for the first third of the movie. The second third is the decisions of the Greeks to war with Troy and the start of the 11 year siege. The last third is the fall of Troy and the "Rescue (?)" of Helen.

Torin Thatcher finished 1956 off by appearing on several television shows. 1957 was a year of small roles. In January he had fourth billing in "Istanbul" starring Errol Flynn, August found him in a film set in the Antebellum South starring  Clark Gable and Yvonne DeCarlo "Band of Angels" and billed behind Sidney Poitier, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr, Rex Reason and Patrick Knowles.

Torin Thatcher had a juicey role as "The Queen's Prosecutor" in Billy Wilder's production of Agatha Christie 's "Witness for the Prosecution" starring Tyrone Power, Marlene Dietrich and Charles Laughton.



1958 started out by the actor portraying the Scottish Commander Instructor Sergeant McTavish in the James Garner movie "Darby's Rangers".

imafges
Four television appearances followed "Darby's Rangers:" and then on December 5, 1958 a film from Morningside Productions premiered in West Germany. Followed by France, Austria and then on December 23rd in the United States.



Stop Motion Animator Ray Harryhausen and his business partner Producer Charles H.
Schneer wanted to make a full blown old fashion fantasy film in the vein of the Korda brother's 1940 "The Thief of Bagdad". Ray had perfected a process of stop motion animation that overcame the color shift problems of combining two shots into one. He called it "Dynamation"! "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" would not only be in this new process, but also i\n Technicolor and Widescreen. All firsts for Harryhausen and Schneer.

Charles H. Schneer is overlooked by many of Ray Harryhausen's fans and his contribution is overlooked. My reader can find my biography of Ray's partner at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/09/charles-h-schneer-look-at-work-of.html


Looking at the above poster for the picture my reader notes there were three names prior to Torin Thatcher. The two main stars were Kerwin Mathews and Kathryn Grant.

Seattle, Washington born Kerwin Matthews, "Sinbad", had his first on screen role in an episode of televisions "Space Patrol" in 1954. Six more television appearances and four forgotten motion pictures had brought the actor to the attention of Schneer and Harryhausen.



Houston, Texas born Kathryn Grant, "Princess Parisa", had made twenty-two motion pictures before "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad". One was a minor 1950's Science Fiction cult classic "The Night the World Exploded" in 1957. Two others were non-screen credited roles that featured Kerwin Matthews under the same circumstances. They were 1955's "Cell 2455, Death Row" and "5 Against the House".

Another piece of Kathryn Grant trivia related to the filming of the Harryhausen/Schneer film was a visiting Singer/Actor to the set in Spain. His name was Bing Crosby and they became an on set item and would be married shortly after live action shooting was completed in 1957.



The last name above Torin Thatcher was eleven year old Richard Eyer as "Barani, the Genie". By the time this picture was released in the United States. Richard Eyer had appeared on television twenty-three times and on the motion picture screen fourteen times. Those film  roles included stealing scenes from Humphrey Bogart in 1955's "The Desperate Hours" and from Gary Cooper, Dorothy Malone and Anthony Perkins in 1956's "The Friendly Persuasion". Along with star billing in both 1957's "The Invisible Boy" and 1958's "Johnny Rocco". The last released a few days prior to "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" to play off the publicity.

For my readers who might be interested in Richard Eyer and another young actor of the same time Charles Herbert, 1958's "The Fly" and 1960's "13 Ghosts". My blog dual bio's can be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/06/richard-eyer-and-charles-herbert-child.html



Giving a PERFECTLY CONTROLLED OVER THE TOP PERFORMANCE, is that a contradiction (?), was Torin Thatcher as the evil magician of the "Isle of Colossa" "Sokurah".



To Ray's fans the picture is known for having the original Skeleton fight sequence. That would be taken to the extreme in "Jason and the Argonauts".




However, the entire plot revolves around Torin Thatcher's conniving evil magician and his quest for the Magic Lamp of the Cyclops and the Genie within,

Sinbad and his crew land on Colossa and finds Sokurah being chased by one of the Cyclops. The magician reveals the power of the lamp by calling fourth Barani who puts up a barrier to allow, Sinbad, Sokurah and the ship's crew to escape, but the Cyclops is able to throw a rock over the barrier. This causes the rowboat the men are in to capsize. The lamp is lost and Sokurah offers Sinbad and Princess Parisa the entire treasure of the Cylcops', if he would return to Colossa and help him get the lamp. Sinbad refuses as he must take the Princess to Baghdad. A different spelling from  the Korda Brother's 1940 motion picture.

Now Torin Thatcher's over the top performance really kicks in.

He performs at the feast for the marriage of Sinbad and the Princess by turning her handmaid into a part snake women.



Then "ALLOWS" the magician to be convinced to look into the future of Sinbad's Baghdad and Parisa's Chandra and of course predicts WAR.





Sokurah is banished, but before he leaves to force a return to Colossa he shrinks the happy Princess.



According to his plan the magician is requested to return to the Palace.



Next Sokurah reveals that one ingredient needed to restore Parisa to her normal size can only be found on the cliffs of Colossa. A piece of shell from the Giant Two Headed Bird called a Roc.

With a giant crossbow to fight the Cyclops and a crew mostly of criminal Sinbad and Princess Parisa return with Sokurah to the island.



The magician has convinced Sinbad to split their forces to make the search for the egg shell easier. Sinbad and his group are attacked by the Cyclops, but unknown to Sokirah he also finds the lamp.



Sinbad has to reveal the existence of the shrunken Princess who helps them escape the cage they're in. Sinbad uses Parisa's size to his advantage by asking her to enter the lamp and find the genie and the words to call him for help.



Sinbad and what's left of his crew find the Giant Roc's nest, but the hungry men break open a giant egg.

They're attacked by Mama and Sokurah gets away with Princess Parisa leaving Sinbad for dead.



Sinbad recovers and still has the magic lamp and calls upon Barani to help him. The Genie gives Sinbad information about how to get the Sokruah's castle and promises to meet the sailor at it's entrance.

The Genie explains that a dragon protects the entrance from the Cyclops and tells Sinbad how to restrain it to enter and leave.



Sinbad goes to Sokurah with the lamp and egg shell to force him to make the Princess normal once more.

This is accomplished but Sinbad will not give Sokurah the lamp until they are both safe. Sokurah grudgingly seems to agree, but this leads to the Skeleton fight. Sinbad wins and with the Princess the two proceed through the magicians cavern. Parisa sees a lava flow and tells Sinbad to toss the lamp into it. She made a promise with Barani to free him and make the Genie a real boy, if she is able based upon a written message on a wall inside the magic lamp. The lamp is tossed into the lava which seems to fit the message and further infuriates Sokurah.

The two make it safely out of the magician's cave, but Sokurah frees the dragon to follow him to seek revenge. What follows is a fight between the Dragon and a Cyclops.





The Cyclops is killed and the Giant Crossbow is used to kill the Dragon which falls upon Sokurah. On Sinbad's ship Princess Parisa wishes "Barani" was there and he appears. Along with his wedding gift to Sinbad and the Princess. The entire treasure of the Cyclops. 

Eight U.S. television appearances later and Torin Thatcher was "The Duke of Wellington" in 1959's "The Miracle". I have to mention the film not really for Thatcher, but for who the two main stars were in this religious film. The story was first written as a play in 1911 and has been considered for a motion picture since then, but took 48 years to be realized.

The plot is set during the Napoleonic Wars in Spain. Roger Moore plays a British Officer who falls in love with a young Postulant named "Teresa" portrayed by Carroll Baker. Baker three years earlier was "Condemned by the Catholic Church" for playing the title character in Elia Kazan's motion picture version of Tennessee Williams story "Baby Doll". This story tells of the young Teresa devoted to the "Virgin Mary" whose statue she always prays at. When she leaves with the British Officer the statue seems to come to life, steps down from the alter and disappears from the Convent.

"The Miracle" of the film happens after Teresa decides to return to the convent and take her vows. Roger Moore's Michael is almost killed leading a charge as a canon ball explodes almost on top of him and his men. "The Duke of Wellington" sees dead everywhere around Michael, but he is untouched. At the Convent the Nuns find the young Postulant praying in front of the status of the "Virgin Mary" as before.




After seven more American television appearances and one Western by Director Burt Kennedy set in Canada with the obvious name of "The Canadians". Found Torin Thatcher reunited with two others he had worked with in the final movie I want to go into detail "Jack the Giant Killer" from 1962.



Before I go into Torin Thatcher's role I need to give my reader a little background on this fantasy film. The producer was Edward Small. Small started in 1927 and before his last film in 1970, "The Christine Jorgenson Story", would have produced 78 features. Some fair, some good and some very good. The titles included the classic 1934 "The Count of Monte Cristo" starring Robert Donat, 1941's "The Corsican Brothers" starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr, and 1949's "Black Magic" starring Orson Wells. Edward Small also co-produced the previously mentioned "Witness to the Prosecution" and two cult classic 1958 Science Fiction pictures. Which were actually on a double bill: "It, the Terror from Beyond Space" and "The Curse of the Faceless Man".

"Jack the Giant Killer" was directed by Nathan Juran. Juran had directed Torin Thatcher in "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad". Among his other films were Ray Harryhausen and Charles H. Schneer's 1957 "20 Million Miles to Earth". That same year he also directed  "The Brain from Planet Arous" and "The Deadly Mantis", In 1958 beside "Sinbad" was "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman", For those of my readers interested in all of Nathan Juran's work you can find my article at:


In this feature Torin Thatcher was additionally reunited with Kerwin Matthews as "Jack" This would seem like a great team for Edward Small, but using Thatcher, Mathews and Juran was part of an after release problem that he faced. When he was accused and sued by Columbia Pictures for copying "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" too much and this would lead to an interesting developement.

I saw the original version of the motion picture when it first came out in June 1962. What I have never seen, or even outtakes of, was what Small did to stop the lawsuit. Edward Small pulled all copies of the motion picture and had the soundtrack partly redone. The result was "Jack the Giant Killer" was now a musical including the main characters singing, if not in there own voices. Apparently some of the DVD releases of this film are the musical rather than the original I saw. However, reports say there appears to be no difference in the information on the covers to distinguish between the two versions for the buyer or collector.

The original story was written by Nathan Juran and turned into a screenplay by Orville H. Hampton. "Jack the Giant Killer" is truly a Children's Fairy Tale set in Cornwall with an evil sorcerer named "Pendragon" portrayed by Torin Thatcher. A character very close to "Sokurah the Magician".

 

"Pendragon" is an interesting choice for the villain's name by Nathan Juran, because it is actually lifted from Arthurian Lore. "Pendragon"being the title of the future King Arthur's father Uther, Pendragon. The word actually derives itself from Middle Welsh divided into "Pen" meaning Head, Leader, Chief., or Commander and "Dragon" meaning Warrior.

Juran's "Pendragon" ruled over witches, giants and other evil creatures. He was exiled to an island after being defeated by the Wizard Herta, but after Herta dies. The Warlock/Sorcerer sees his opportunity to return to Cornwall and seek revenge. This occurs at the crowning of the Princess Elaine played by Judi Meredith. At the ceremony Pendragon arrives and disguised as a noble from a distant land gives Princess Elaine a magical music box.

The jester in the music box is actually a giant who changes in size and kidnaps the Princess.




The stop motion animation was created by Jim Dansforth. This was his sixth motion picture and this first giant was named Cormoran from a legend in Cornwall. The character was a too obvious rip off of Ray Harryhausen's Cyclops from  "The 7th Voyage of Sinbad" and a point made by Columbia Pictures. 

Cormoran takes Elaine to a ship, but before it can sail our hero the farmer "Jack" saves her and kills the giant. Elaine's father "King Mark" makes the farmer her protector.


A decision is made to send Princess Elaine to a Convent across the sea with Jack and her lady in waiting Constance. What no one knows is that "Lady Constance" is under a spell and now is a witch working for Pendragon.

On the voyage to the convent the ship is attacked by witches and other creatures. The Captain is killed, Princess Elaine captured, the crew mutinies and throws Jack and the dead Captain's son overboard.


Jack and the boy Peter are rescued by an old Viking named Sigurd.



Meanwhile back at his castle King Mark sees Lady Constance reflected as a witch in a mirror. He breaks the mirror freeing the loyal Lady in Waiting.

On his island "Pendragon" prepares to turn Princes Elaine into a witch.







On his ship Sigurd introduces Jack and Peter to a leprechaun he has in a bottle.



Can you say a variation upon the genie in "7th Voyage of Sinbad". For his freedom he has three magic gold coins and each will grant a "pure heart" a wish. Jack uses the first two wishes to get to Pendragon and rescue Elaine unaware she's a witch. She causes him to sleep and goes for the leprechaun in his bottle, but upon touching it glows hot from her evil nature. She reacts by tossing the bottle into the sea.

Pendragon captures Jack, Peter and Sigurd. He tries to force the farmer into telling him where the bottle with the leprechaun is by changing Jack's companions into animals. Then leaves Elaine with him, but she passes near a mirror and he sees her witch form. Eventually with his friends help he will escape and break a mirror reflecting Elaine's evil persona and free her.





Fleeing they are pursued by a two-headed giant.


As the giant closes in on the group the bottle with the leprechaun has washed ashore and Jack has him summon a sea monster to fight the giant.




Now comes the final battle between Jack and Pendragon. The Sorcerer turns himself into a dog like dragon and attacks the Sigurd's ship.


 



Jack slays the dragon resulting in Pendragon's castle with it's evil creatures being destroyed. The leprechaun is freed from his bottle, Prince Elaine becomes his wife and they live happily ever after.

Also in 1962 Torin Thatcher had a non-screen credited role as "Staines" in the Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard remake of "Mutiny on the Bounty". It was probably a good move not to have on screen credit in this big budgeted flop.

Then came two completely forgotten motion pictures starting with 1963's "Drums of Africa" starring Frankie Avalon.fighting the slave trade in the Congo.



An the second called "Decision at Midnight". I could only locate the name of the actors who were in it, but nothing about what it was about. These were followed by 11 television appearances and a made for TV movie in 1965 "Holy Terror" that also has no plot information available on line.

Next the actor had a role in the big budgeted motion picture "The Sandpiper" starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. Torin Thatcher was "Judge Thompson". 
1966 audiences saw Thatcher as the "Reverend Dr, Thorn" in another major production "Hawaii" based upon the James A, Mitchener best seller. The movie starred Julie Andrews and Max von Sydow.

He was back to American television and during this period made an appearance in Season One, Episode 21, "The Return of the Archons"  of the classic "Star Trek" on February 9, 1967.

Also in 1967 was a remake of the Maureen O'Hara pirate movie "Against All Flags" as "The King's Pirate" starring Doug McClure and Jill St. John. Thatcher portrayed "Captain Cullen".


On January 7, 1968 Torin Thatcher was "Sir John Turnbell" in the Dan Curtis production of "The Strange Case of Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde" starring Jack Palance.



Eight more television appearances later and Torin Thatcher was seen in his last on screen performance in the made for television motion picture "Brenda Starr" on May 8, 1976. The film starring Jill St. John.

On March 4, 1981 while living with his second wife in Thousand Oaks, California. Actor Torin Thatcher's battle with cancer ended. 





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