On leave in Italy, Lt. Tommy Knowlton falls in love with Jean Standish, who's not only married, but is the daughter of his submarine's commander. Friction between the two officers becomes ... See full summary »
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 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
The film invents a military order of "Castelaines" or "Castlers", of which Sir Giles (Robert Douglas) is the Master. In the source novel, these characters are Knights Templar, whom Walter Scott invariably depicted as villains. It is unclear whether the change was made because of the Production Code (Templars were a monastic order, so hostile depictions might fall under the rules against negative depictions of clergy), or to avoid upsetting the Masonic Knights Templar, of which a number of distinguished Hollywood figures were members. See more »
Saladin is depicted as ignorant of the existence of ice. In fact, ice was found in the mountains of the Middle East, and was used to cool drinks. Saladin famously offered King Guy of Jerusalem a cup of iced water after the battle of Hattin, in an incident which led to the killing of Reynaud de Châtillon, Lord of Oultrejourdain. 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 And The Crusaders (David Butler, 1954) **1/2
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!!
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