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Young Prince Valiant, son of the exiled King of Scandia, journeys to Camelot to become a knight at King Arthur's Round Table. He hopes to help his father reclaim his throne from the pagan usurper Sligon and restore the Christian faith to their homeland. On his journey he stumbles on the mysterious Black Knight plotting with the Viking pretender to overthrow Arthur. Barely escaping with his life, Valiant encounters Sir Gawaine, a friend of his father's who tutors the young Viking in the skills needed to be a knight. Valiant and Gawaine's pupil/mentor relationship is complicated by their romantic involvement with Princess Aleta and her sister Ilene, daughters of a British nobleman. If Valiant is to restore his father's throne and prevent the coup d'etat against Arthur, he must uncover the true identity of the Black Knight. Written by
Gabe Taverney (firstname.lastname@example.org)
None of the locations were "stock footage" since this was one of the first CinemaScope movies. The locations were shot by a second unit in Britain during the spring and summer of 1953 specifically for this film. Stand-ins doubled for the principal cast in long shots which were then matched at 20th Century-Fox studios and ranch in California during the autumn of 1953. The English stand-in for Janet Leigh's Aleta character was a teenage Shirley Eaton (later to become the James Bond Goldfinger (1964) girl). See more »
In the final sword fight between Prince Valiant and the Black Knight Valiant swings and hits a wooden chair with his huge sword and doesn't even scratch it. See more »
I Know: Robert Wagner's hairdo is sort of unbearable; Janet Leigh's white wig is too much; Valiant's sword looks over-sized; Sterling Hayden behaves like a contemporary New Yorker; it's very easy to imagine who the black knight is; vikings didn't have horns in their helmets; and so on.
But somehow I found this medieval story based on Harold Foster's characters entertaining and I even enjoyed it. In fact I think that for 1954 "Prince Valiant" takes the most of Foster's novels about knights and vikings in the times of legendary King Arthur.
Good colorful locations, fine settings, good action scenes and a sort of "sticky" musical score that even sounds appropriate help the picture along with an acceptable script and Henry Hathaway's prolix direction.
Highlights o the movie are James Mason's convincing villain, Brian Aherne's fine portrayal of King Arthur and a violent and smashing final duel between Valiant and the unmasked Black Knight.
If you like medieval costume adventures you'll enjoy this one too.
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