From my very early childhood I recall from the film THIEF OF BAGHDAD (I think), where Sindbad was swinging on a line from a giant spider's web, fighting it, sending it falling into a deep pit in which octopi were waiting to devour it. Don't know if that oldie was Harryhausen's work, but his skeletons were indeed what I visualized for the D&D monster of that name. Ray did some very good work using the technology available then.
The old film that holds up the best IMo is the original KING KONG, though. What a great movie that was!
was done by Willis O'Brien, who was later Harryhausen's mentor and collaborator. Both Harryhausen and O'Brien (Obie, for short) appear as major characters in Greg Bear's wonderful book Dinosaur Summer
, set in 1948 in a world where A.C. Doyle's Professor Challenger really lived, and really did find the Lost World. Anyway, Harryhausen worked on the effects for Mighty Joe Young
, and worked with O'Brien on that film.
The Thief of Bagdad
's, from 1940, might be the film you're thinking of. The effects, which were groundbreaking at the time, were done by Lawrence W. Butler and Tom Howard. The former worked on the effects on films such as Things to Come
, as well as films whose effects were more subtle, such as Casablanca
. The latter worked on many films also, such as 1963's The Haunting
, and apparently was photographic effects supervisor on 2001
. In addition, some of the matte paintings were done by Peter Ellenshaw, who is a famous matte painter - he worked on films like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
and The Black Hole
, and is the father of Harrison Ellenshaw, who did matte painting for many films, perhaps most especially Star Wars
, but also worked on The Black Hole
with his dad, and continues to work today.
I knew a lot of this stuff, but not all of it; I found the details over at IMDB.com.