From Professor Kinema...
He was the one person who instilled my personal interest in the Cinema. I had the extreme pleasure to meet him on several occasions. I even got to interview him. The results of the interview morphed into five Professor Kinema shows.
In just about all interviews he's had, he always related the story of how the direction of his life was truly altered when he attended his first theater showing of King Kong in 1933. As a kid, I underwent a similar life and career revellation when I caught my first screening of The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad.
The film was showing during a Saturday afternoon 'kiddie matinee' in the early 1960s, a few years after it's initial release in 1958. In the steady ruckus happening in the theater (as was always the case during Saturday afternoon kiddie matinees) I was enthralled by the sheer magical fantasy that was coming from the screen.
Coming to life before my eyes was a fire breathing dragon, a magician's concoction of a snake woman, two headed Rocs,a giant Cyclops, and an incredible sword fight between Sinbad and a skeleton. This cinematic fantastique was instilling an interest in the history and genres of movies within my pre-teen brain. I simply had to know how this movie magic was accomplished. Subsequently, I embarked on a personal magical journey of my own. This journey of the Quest of Cinematic Knowledge continues to this day.
The passing of special effects wizard Ray Harryhausen ended the reign of the three original Bat Packers (as Forry Ackerman always referred to them), which included Forry himself and Ray Bradbury.
Mainly through brief encounters at conventions I was able to meet Ray Harryhausen. I had the opportunity to thank him for instilling my interest in the cinema. He gladly acknowledged. While standing on line to have stills and other material inscribed, I couldn't help but overhear other conventioneers tell him the exact same thing.
During the weekend run of one particular Science Fiction convention in 2001 (that I was actively involved in), I was able to conduct an on-camera interview with him. I sat next to the camera that was framing him.
The interview lasted for about 1 1/2 hours. It was initially for the inclusion of a public access TV show titled Infinite Possibilities that friends of mine were producing. An unedited copy of the entire interview was made for me to utilize in my Professor Kinema show.
Portions of the interview morphed into a three-part show as well as two additional shows titled From Kong to Joe Young and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Jack the Giant Killer - a Comparison. For the convention and the interview he had brought along with him several animation models for display. He allowed me to handle one of the skeletons that was used in Jason and the Argonauts. Harryhausen was impressed by my ready knowledge of his life and work as well as of the history of special effects in the Cinema in general.
The Kinema Archives contains many stills, books, magazines, posters and lobby cards that Ray was happy to inscribe for me. One item was a book that I had found at a yard sale, The Seven Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor. Published in 1949 (the year I was born as well as the year Mighty Joe Young was released) it had nothing to do with the film The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad. Harryhausen had never seen it. He looked it over and on my request inscribed it to me. He wrote "A wonderful book. I wish I had it when making the 7th Voyage. Best wishes! Ray Harryhausen."
Copies of the three part Ray Harryhausen interview, plus two other shows: From Kong to Joe Young and The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad and Jack the Giant Killer - a Comparison Professor are available. Contact Professor Kinema (Jim Knusch) through his Facebook page.