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RIP: Ray Harryhausen 1920-2013

by  |  May 7th, 2013  |  News

We here at AwesomeBMovies,com are sad to learn of the passing of special effects legend Ray Harryhausen (The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad)!

Legendary special effects Artist, ‘Ray Harry Hausen’

According to LATimes.com:

Special Effects legend Ray Harryhausem who made such a name for himself in Hollywood that it would go on to inspire filmmaker and other special effect artists, started off as the protege of the late Willis O’Brien (The Lost World) (Willis O’Brien would be made famous for the stop motion work that he did for Universal’s original, ‘King Kong’ movie!)

During the early part of his career, Ray Harryhausen and Ray Bradbury would become life long friends and the both of them would end up joining a group called the, ‘Science Fiction League’ together! This life long friendship would prove to be professionally beneficial when in the 1950s, and while Mr. Harryhausen was working on his first solo film effort, Warner Bros. learned that Bradbury had sold a short story of his called, ‘The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms‘.

Fearing legal issue, Warner Bros. bought the story and changed the title of the movie to, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953)!

This film would go on to be the first international box office smash for Mr. Harryhausem in his long career of hits!

Ray Bradbury with Ray Harryhausen, A short story of Mr. Bradbury’s would help his life long friend, ‘Ray Harryhausen’s’ with his first internation box office smash hit!

After color started being used in movies Mr. Harryhausen began experimenting with color stock to overcome the color-balance-shift problems. Ray’s producer/partner Charles H. Schneer coined the word Dynamation as a “merchandising term” (modifying it to “SuperDynaMation” and then “Dynarama” for some subsequent films). 

The 1960s would see a definite boon for Ray (and as a matter of fact, would see a feet of stop motion animation that has not been equaled since!) You see, in 1963 a legendary movie, Jason And The Argonauts (1963) would be released.  This film has several celebrated animation sequences, but the one that merits special attention is an extended fight scene between three actors and seven living skeletons, a considerable advance on the single-skeleton fight scene from Sinbad.

This scene from, ‘Jason And The Argonauts’ was a feet of magic that was created by Mr. Harryhausen, and this type of work would go on to inspired filmmakers and special effects artists ever since!

This awesome stop-motion fight sequence took over 4 months, and helped to inspire such talent as: Steven Speilberg (E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial), George Lucas (Star Wars: Episode 4 – A New Hope), Tim Burton (Beetlejuice), Sami Raimi (The Evil Dead), & James Cameron (The Terminator)!

1967 would see the release of the movie, One Million Year B.C. (A movie that would see Mr. Harryhausen working with the legendary horror producers over at Hammer Films!)

Ray Harryhausen would continue to work through out the 70s, but a movie that we thought we would mention (and is one that we have recommended) is the movie, The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad (1973)… You see, in the early 70s, Ray and his partner Charles went to Columbia Pictures and got them to revive a movie series that helped make the team famous, ‘The Sinbad series’, and they would go on to release, The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad in 1973!

In the 1980s Harryhausen and Schneer would go on to produce their first big budget movie with big names, a movie that would garner him a Saturn Award nomination for, ‘Best Special Effects’, this movie would also go on to be remade in the new millennium… That movie of course is, Clash Of The Titans (1981)!

Clash Of The Titans is one of the first first big budget produced films that Harryhausen and Schneer produced and was later remade in 2010!

Clash Of The Titans is one of the first first big budget produced films that Harryhausen and Schneer produced and was later remade in 2010!

Beside his absolutely prolific Hollywood career, Mr. Harryhausen in the early 70s would release a book called, ‘The Film Fantasy Scrap Book’, a book that had to do with, pictures, stories and artwork from the films that he had created up to that point…. He would also go on to do another book with writer Tony Dalton, a book about his techniques that is called, ‘An Animated Life’ and followed up with a book of art that was created by Mr. Harryhausen called, ‘The Art Of Ray Harryhausen’, now this was followed up with his final book, a book about the history of stop-motion animation!

Besides being an amazing artist, he started the Ray & Diana Harryhausen Foundation to protect his work for future generations to come!

Ray Harryhausen will most definitely be missed, but with his amazing body of work, his legion of fans the world over, as well the inspiration that his work helped give and continues to help give to filmmakers and special effects artists the world over, Ray Harryhausen maybe missed, but he will never be forgotten!

An Interview with Ray Harryhausen from October 10th, 1974:

This fight scene is a fight scene that was created by Mr. Harryhausen, and is something to do this date, that has never been topped!



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