Has-been director Harry Dawes gets a new lease on his career when independently wealthy Kirk Edwards hires him to write and direct a film. They go to Madrid to find Maria Vargas, a dancer ... See full summary »
Joseph L. Mankiewicz
King Arthur establishes the greatest reign England has ever seen, and along for the ride are his indispensable Knights of the Round Table, particularly Sir Lancelot. Then, Arthur finds himself a bride, the beautiful Guenivere. While she loves Arthur, she also loves Lancelot and though Lancelot repeatedly fights it, he loves her, too. Treachery is brewing as the evil Morgan le Fay and her knight Sir Modred work to trap them. So begins the decline and eventual fall of Arthur and Camelot. Written by
For those of you with an interest in Shakespeare, you're in luck! The script is beautiful ("I am for thee, lone knight!" and "Is he a king or is he a man of straw?") and Mel Ferrer is excellent as King Arthur (he is my favorite American actor, and he speaks as though he has had some classical acting experience).
Who cares if this film is accurate or not? One should just sit down, relax, and savor the vast widescreen pageantry and battle scenes, the beautiful production and music, and the great dialog (which should have been Oscar-nominated) and cast. Alas, some of the acting is wooden (Robert Taylor, as with almost all Lancelots, is miscast and it's kind of funny hearing Shakespearian dialog with a "cowboy" accent and incorrect pacing of the beautiful lines) and some scenes are slow (due to the staginess of the inexperienced widescreen crew), but these six things listed above make up for it.
Ava Gardner is extremely lovely, and Stan Baker is suitably cast is the evil Modred. The film is more faithful to the legend than other film versions, but there's no supernatural elements whatsoever. It's a shame that Shakespeare films, then and now, aren't made like this, where every scene is made to make one truly sink into the action.
But Shakespeare fans, like me, as well as classic movie buffs and medieval fans (especially those who love Errol Flynn's "The Adventures of Robin Hood"), will very much enjoy this film. As Mel himself says on the DVD, "Good viewing!"
*** (out of four)
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