There’s still time to nominate local icons for Best of D.C.
Stop-action-animation pioneer Ray Harryhausen was not primarily a director, yet he’s better-known than most of the other people who worked on such special-effects adventure flicks as Earth vs. the Flying Saucers and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad. By the time of 1963’s Jason and the Argonauts, Harryhausen even had a trademark bit: sword-wielding skeletons, who are just one of the threats Jason faces on his quest for the Golden Fleece. Actors (including the now-forgotten Todd Armstrong as Jason) are the least expressive creatures in this film, whose depiction of Zeus and Hera as a gently bickering suburban couple is pure ’60s sitcom. (The twinkly sound effect when Hera intervenes to help Jason suggests Bewitched.) The movie’s monsters may look quaint today, but Harryhausen knew something Ang Lee doesn’t: Special-effects creatures are compelling only when they seem to interact with flesh-and-blood ones. The film screens at 8 p.m. at the American City Diner & Cinema Cafe, 5532 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 244-1949. (Mark Jenkins)