During the 1900 Boxer Rebellion against foreigners in China, U.S. Marine Major Matt Lewis, aided by British Consul Sir Arthur Robertson, devises a strategy to keep the rebels at bay until an international military relief force arrives.
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
The Arthur legend gets a grand production here, good photography and rousing battle scenes. The leads kind of go through the motions in their roles though, some of the supporting players really carry this film.
Robert Taylor was never comfortable in those 'iron jockstrap' movies as he called them. But he was the most dutiful employee MGM had and like Errol Flynn with westerns, Taylor just went with the flow. Funny thing is Taylor much preferred doing westerns as he reached his forties.
Was there ever a more beautiful Guinevere than Ava Gardner? I sincerely doubt it. If she never spoke a line in the film, you know this is a woman for whom you toss convention out for. Ava was in the middle of her tempestuous marriage to Frank Sinatra at the time, so I'm sure she was preoccupied.
And next to Richard Burton on stage and Richard Harris on the screen Mel Ferrer looks positively colorless. Not the guy to command the loyalty the legendary king was supposed to do.
But I did like the performances of Felix Aylmer as Merlin, Anne Crawford as Morgan Le Fay and Stanley Baker as Mordred. Felix Aylmer was never bad in anything he ever did, always a figure of wisdom and dignity in any role. Morgan Le Fay is quite the schemer here and Anne Crawford brings her to life. Sadly Ms. Crawford died only two years later of leukemia at age 36. American audiences probably only know her for this film, but she's fantastic.
But the best performance in the film has to be Stanley Baker. He was a rugged tough man in every film he did, good guy or bad guy. His Mordred has depth and passion and he's unrelenting in his plans to topple Arthur and the Round Table.
If they gave Oscars out for performances by animals than Robert Taylor's horse Varick would have won it that year. Except for Roy Rogers's Trigger, I don't think we've ever had a smarter movie horse. He's obedient and well trained and knight's horse certainly had to be back in the day. And he saves Taylor's bacon on one occasion.
It's a good film, not the best from either of the stars, but I think you'll like it overall.
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