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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
Now forever infamous for the line "*War War war, that's all you ever think about Dick Plantagenet!" See more »
During the battle scene clouds of arrows are shot at the attacking cavalry; and while
many men are hit, not a single horse is hit, wounded or killed. See more »
[Sir Kenneth tries to steal a kiss]
No, no, my dearly betrothed. Richard would set the headsman on your neck - he has said as much.
Then kiss me quickly, my bonnie, while these lips are still warm.
No, no! (they kiss) Ah, this is a pleasant madness.
A lunacy with which I would love to be afflicted... to the end of my life. If Richard would take my life, I must kiss softly.
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King Richard I, known to posterity as the Lion Heart and, according to this script, to his friends and family as Dick, certainly has his work cut out on his Third Crusade. He faces a host of vicious and unscrupulous foes and they're just his fellow Crusaders. Lucky for him, that flashing-eyed rascal Saladin is a stickler for fair play as well as fancying cousin Edith, so things could be worse.
Though screen writer John Twist has supplied the more idiotic dialogue, the eccentric narrative stems from Sir Walter Scott's The Talisman itself. By the time of its publication in the 1820s, Richard had long become one of the great romantic legends of English history. In reality he was a ferocious warrior of the 'kill first and ask questions later' school, but a useless ruler. So when Virginia Mayo as the fictitious Edith utters the much mocked line: "War! War! That's all you think of Dick Plantagenet!" at the end of the movie, it's not far from the truth. Except that Richard's descendants did not adopt the name Plantagenet until a couple of centuries later.
Of course no-one expects factual accuracy in this kind of movie, but it's also rather dull in places. Too much time is taken up by the interminable feuding in camp at the start of the picture, while it ends in a frenzy of action in which it's hard to discern what's going on. Then there's the business of Sir Kenneth, hit in the chest by Saladin's arrow and falling from his horse, only to be prancing about with no harm done within a minute or two. I have seen similar films that are worse though, there is the lush photography and an excellent score from Max Steiner that's worthy of a more prodigious production and while some of the action scenes are very average, the joust and fight between Richard and Sir Kenneth is well done.
Rex Harrison as Saladin and George Sanders, looking less bored and cynical than usual, as Richard offer enjoyable performances, though the latter could have been played by a younger actor as the King was in his early thirties at the time of the Crusade. Laurence Harvey though is fairly dire as Sir Kenneth, not sounding remotely Scottish, and his love scenes with Barbara Mayo fall flat. Harvey always had his fans, but those who have speculated as to why an actor so lacking in talent and charisma became a star will find no answers here.
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