In World War II, a strategic Italian village agrees to surrender to the Allies only if it's allowed to organize a celebratory festival while giving aerial reconnaissance the false impression of fierce ground fighting.
In 1191, King Richard the Lionhearted, along with several other European monarchs, is in the Holy Land intent on retaking Jerusalem from the Saracens. There is much infighting and outright treachery in the European encampment encampment however. Two nobles in particular, Sir Giles Amaury and Conrad of Montferrat, want to eliminate the English king and attempt to have him assassinated. Severely wounded and on his death bed, Richard is brought back to health by a Saracen doctor recruited by one of his loyal knights, Sir Kenneth of the Leopard. The king recovers from his wounds but when he hears that Sir Lawrence wishes to marry Lady Edith Plantagenet, the knight is banished only to be taken in by the very doctor who treated the king and who has an altogether different identity. Written by
Heavy plotting and absurd dialogue kill movie even Max Steiner's score could not save...
KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS is a Warner Bros. attempt to get folks away from their TV sets during the '50s and watch a spectacular adventure film in CinemaScope and Warner Color. Based on a story "The Talisman" by Sir Walter Scott (of "Ivanhoe" fame), it contains a lot of absurdly anachronistic dialogue ("Go squat on the Alps!"), and plot- heavy nonsense that gets more and more entangled as the film plods toward another saber-rattling conclusion.
REX HARRISON seems to be having a fine time as a turbaned Mideasterner (Saladin) under heavy dark make-up in a rather physically demanding role not characteristic of most of his work. And LAWRENCE HARVEY is more animated than usual in a cardboard assignment, in love with VIRGINIA MAYO who has little to do but look decorative in her colorful costumes.
The big mystery is why David Butler (who specialized in comedies and musicals) was chosen to do the sort of directorial chores that should have gone to Michael Curtiz. One can only yearn for a better film when listening to Max Steiner's well orchestrated background score, but even his music fails to save an inept script from seeming even the least bit credible. Most of the dialogue is unbelievably bad in a screenplay by John Twist.
No wonder this was a box office dud, in no way reaping the sort of rewards Warner Bros. hoped for or the sort of success that MGM had with "Ivanhoe" and "Knights of the Roundtable."
Summing up: At your own risk.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?