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|Index||22 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The fifties was Hollywood's decade of change... With television's
continuing stronghold on the public, the film industry had to rethink
itself into competing against the monster box and, in so doing,
underwent a radical personality change...
Clearly, the only way to lure audiences back into the cinema was to provide them with something that was unavailable on television. The alternatives soon became apparent: new projection ratios that could in no way be matched by the small screen, epics whose production costs were beyond the reach of TV...
"King Richard and the Crusaders" begins with Richard the Lionhearted (George Sanders) and his allies having hardly set foot in the Holy Land on the Third Crusade when a group of treacherous nobles plans to kill Richard and take command of the whole operation...
Sir Kenneth (Lawrence Harvey) makes his appearance as a noble Scotsman, the only knight who is truly loyal to Richard... He warns the king about the traitors in his midst, and rides off to find evidence against them...
Virginia Mayo is Richard's cousin, Lady Edith, who is hopelessly in love with Sir Kenneth, but she can't marry him until he proves himself...
Rex Harrison plays the role of the Saracen ruler Saladin, who falls in love with Lady Edith... The motion picture makes it clear that it is Saladin, not Richard, who is the nobler and wiser chieftain through a series of intrigues which show the great Sultan playing physician, matchmaker and spy all the while Richard is being cheated by traitors and self-interested allies around him... In fact, the tricked king is moved to condemn to death his bravest knight and supporter...
Robert Douglas is Sir Giles Amaury, the treacherous knight who sneaks up to Richard's tent one night with a hired bowman... "Strike deep!" he urged, "this is no ordinary man!"
Very loosely based on Sir Walter Scott's The Talisman, David Butler's "King Richard and the Crusaders" is a fun film, full of adventure and exotic locales, but absolutely far from Richard Thorpe's "Ivanhoe," poor in colorful characters and chivalry...
Somehow King Richard And The Crusaders made the Medved list of the 50
Worst films of all time. I'm not saying it's Citizen Kane, but I've
seen far worse. And until The Lion In Winter and Robin and Marian, we
have never been given a true picture of King Richard I of England.
George Sanders who also in his career played King Charles II, a monarch of a far different temperament than Richard is in the title role. The film is based on the Sir Walter Scott novel, The Talisman and takes place in the Middle East during the Crusades.
As in the DeMille epic The Crusades which this bear a faint resemblance, The Lion Hearted King is beset with lots of problems, not all of them caused by the Syrian warrior King Saladin whom he faces in the field. Duke Leopold of Austria and Philip Augustus of France question his leadership of all the Christian nations, his brother Prince John is looking to seize his throne back home and right in camp, he's got a couple of fifth columnists in Robert Douglas and Michael Pate.
Pate and Douglas put in action an assassination attempt in which Richard is only wounded by a captured Saracen arrow. Richard's loyal retainer a Scot knight played by Laurence Harvey starts hunting up the assassins. But in the mean time, a truce of sorts is called as Saladin, hearing of Richard's attempt sends his personal physician played by Rex Harrison.
There is a romantic subplot going here with Harvey and a cousin of Richard's played by Virginia Mayo. Richard likes Harvey enough, but not to marry into the royal family, especially when as a royal princess, Mayo can be married off for alliance purposes.
Sir Walter Scott was one of those authors in the 19th century who cleaned up the Middle Ages quite a bit and invested those bloody times with a romantic aura. He was never more effective in doing this than in his more well known work Ivanhoe. In fact Ivanhoe is almost a sequel of this film as it deals with the capture of Richard by Duke Leopold on the way back to England after the action in this film is concluded and the ransom for Richard demanded and paid.
George Sanders and Robert Douglas were both in the screen version of Ivanhoe that MGM did two years before Warner Brothers did this film. Ivanhoe is a much better film, yet King Richard And The Crusaders does hold its own.
When the Medveds wrote that 50 worst film book they cited a line that Virginia Mayo says which is "war, war that's all you ever think about Dick Plantagenet". In point of fact that was the thing uppermost in that very bloodthirsty man's mind. More truth than humor there.
And you won't get much truth from King Richard And The Crusaders. Still it's not as bad a film as the Medveds would have you believe.
Why is it that people who write movie reviews always expect a message from the movie or the movie to make some social statement, or worse yet each movie has to have academy award performances. King Richard and the Crusaders will never win an academy award for anything. Is it pleasant escapism, absolutely. Knights in armor, damsel in distress, nefarious plots all over the place, swords, pitched battles, good lord all that and you want academy award dialog as well?????? Many a rainy Saturday I crawled up in my chair and watched this movie. Accept it for what it is and don't try to milk more out of it than what is there. As for it being in the top 50 worst movies.. Like I said some people should not review movies. These kinds of film were being pumped out like cannon fodder in the early 50's. Ivanhoe, the Black Knight etc. Even Ivanhoe was not any type of academy award film and yet it received some very favorable reviews. So if your going to post reviews, reflect on what the movie is before slamming it for no good reason.
Saw it on its second release in 1962. I liked it then and recalling
several scenes, I still like it. First, I fancied Sir Kenneth's very
unusual armour which was a deep copper color. I had seen silver and
gold finish armor in movies, even shiny black but this was the first
time I saw copper colored armour. But wait, in Samson and Delilah (with
Victor Mature) the shields and breastplates of the Philistines were
made of copper.
Memorable is the scene when Sir Kenneth introduces himself to King Richard (portrayed by George Sanders) in Gaellic. Although used to foreign knights as the Crusades were after all a multinational mission of Christian kingdoms, the King nevertheless was surprised that he couldn't discern the language spoken by Sir Kenneth. When the latter informs him that it was Gaellic, George Sanders' blue eyes flashed and he said: "One of the Scotsmen! I swear as soon as this crusade is over and the Saracens are defeated, I will bathe their miserable country in their blood." Or something to that effect. Remember in the 11th century,England and Scotland were rivals in power and were constantly at war over borders with England always trying to subjugate the Scots.
I always enjoy listening to George Sanders' rich voice and very cultured but manly intonation which can sometimes be reassuring but at times menacing. His voice over of Bagheera the tiger in Disney's The Jungle Book with its range of moods is superb.
The battle and dueling scenes were very good.
Hollywood was in the business of producing entertainment and not
necessarily historical documentaries. I consider this film to be a very
good action-packed movie, the kind we would expect when going to the
movies on a Saturday night when we were younger. It's just great
sitting through this one.
I like George Sanders in this role as he has more scope here as Richard the Lionhearted, and at least he isn't a cad or the usual bad character as in most of the other films he's done, so it's a nice change.
Laurence Harvey is just fine as Sir Kenneth, the loyal Scotsman, and portraying a Scot he displays their usual staunch reserve by nature, quite in character I thought.
Of course Rex Harrison as Saladin is the master showman here, wily and filled with crafty schemes, at the beginning he manages to work his way into his enemies' camp, in the guise of a physician sent there by Saladin to treat Richard's wound as he has been laid low by a poisoned arrow shot at him. Luckily he survives.
Lovely Virginia Mayo lights up the screen in my view with her exquisite beauty and although she doesn't have a really fulfilling role, her portrayal of Lady Edith is well done.
It's good entertainment with lots of action and should be appreciated as such. I'm glad to add it to my collection.
I give it a NINE as a 12-year-old. As a mature person, I can't say
because it's not available, even on Netflix. At the time, I thought it
a great adventure film. So they scrambled history a bit and the lines
were corny; but with costumes, intrigue, and romance, plus Rex Harrison
and the always impeccable George Sanders, what more could a kid want?
Especially loved the part "where King Richard meets Saladin and shows him 'the strength of English steel' by cutting through an iron mace placed across the backs of two chairs. Saladin responds in kind by throwing a silk veil in the air which separates as it falls across his scimitar, and he replies that 'sometimes it is not the strength of the steel but the sharpness of the blade.'"
Didn't you ever like some film as a kid for reasons known only to a 12-year-old?
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.
King Richard and the Crusaders is an entertaining movie, with plenty of
action, nice costumes, some good scenery, and a fast-moving plot.
Everything you would normally want from an adventure movie.
However, the script is horrible, many of the actors are completely miscast, the actual story is pretty poor, and it has next to nothing to do with the Crusades. It is not Crusaders versus Saracens. It is Good Crusaders and Good Saracens versus Bad Crusaders. Also, they most certainly do not have a cast of thousands, looking like it has a very low budget.
As a result, if you are looking for a historically accurate epic about the Third Crusade, you will be disappointed. Although it is not a great movie, it is underrated, being far better than a lot of other adventure movies, and is overall entertaining.
If you want to enjoy it, simply do not go into the movie looking for an award winning script and brilliant acting.
Based on Sir Walter Scott's "The Talisman" (which I own in a
comic-strip version!), this was made in the wake of IVANHOE (1952)
adapted from another classic by the same author; however, given that
that film was made by journeyman Richard Thorpe (followed, with leading
man Robert Taylor in tow, by two other popular MGM adventures KNIGHTS
OF THE ROUND TABLE  and QUENTIN DURWARD ), Warners somewhat
incongruously assigned musical comedy expert Butler to this one!
While clearly inferior to those three films, KING RICHARD AND THE CRUSADERS isn't nearly as bad as its reputation would suggest (though it must be said that most spectacles from this era, disregarded by the majority of critics when new, stand up surprisingly well today as entertainment!). Even so, there's some definite campiness to the film notably when Rex Harrison as Saladin lullabies George Sanders, playing the wounded King Richard (the score by reliable Max Steiner being noteworthy apart from this) and, in any case, the whole emerges to be even more fanciful than Cecil B. De Mille's THE CRUSADES (1935; which preceded this viewing), what with the Muslim leader insinuating himself into the enemy camp, providing a cure for the King, and even aiding him in routing the traitors (genre staple Robert Douglas and Michael Pate) among his own ranks!!
One similarity to the earlier epic is the fact that Saladin falls for a Christian woman though, in this case, it's Richard's cousin (Virginia Mayo) as opposed to his wife (who gets very limited screen time here) but ultimately relinquishes the heroine to her lover (a fiery Scots knight played by a young, blonde yet surprisingly effective Laurence Harvey). Incidentally, Sanders while older than Henry Wilcoxon's incarnation of Richard in THE CRUSADES is no less gruff and headstrong and, in fact, spends more time fighting Harvey (including a jousting duel) than Harrison!!
King Richard and the Crusaders is directed by David Butler and adapted
to screenplay by John Twist from the novel "The Talisman" written by
Sir Walter Scott. It stars Rex Harrison, Viginia Mayo, George Sanders,
Laurence Harvey, Robert Douglas, Michael Pate and Paula Raymond. A
WarnerColor/CinemaScope production, music is by Max Steiner and
cinematography by J. Peverell Marley.
Unfairly maligned as one of the 50 worst movie of all time, David Butler's picture has enough spectacle about it to ensure it can be enjoyed by fans of such fluffy fare. The script is often awful, the historical accuracy equally so, while Rex Harrison who is otherwise excellent singing like a love sick minstrel, is a touch bizarre! But on the other side of the fence is the lush colour, the costuming, Harrison and Sanders' playful jostling, Steiner's rumbling score and the lively action scenes (mucho jousting high in calibre).
It for sure isn't approaching the top end of the swords and shields list of movies, but is it really worse than the likes of Androcles and the Lion, Helen of Troy, Sword of Lancelot etc? No say I! There's fun to be had, both intentional and otherwise. 6/10
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