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Einar and Eric are two Viking half-brothers. The former is a great warrior whilst the other is an ex-slave, but neither knows the true identity of the other. When the throne of Northumbria in Britain becomes free for the taking, the two brothers compete against one another for the prize, but they have very different motives - both involving the princess Morgana, however.Written by
Graeme Roy <email@example.com>
The story has it that King Ælla killed the father of Ivar, Halfdan and Ubbe Ragnarsson by throwing him into a snake pit. Halfdan and Udde tried to avenge their father but were beaten by Ælla. In a second attack by the two brothers, some time later, Ælla was captured. It was Ivar who suggested that Ælla be killed by having the bloody eagle carved on his back. See more »
Near the end of the film where Einar goes up the wall to the chapel window, as he nears the window, it is clear that there are two ropes - the first going up to the grapnel, and the second going to a small gap in the wall below it. The stunt double is clearly supported from the lower rope (which is taught) while 'appearing' to be using the rope that goes up to the grapnel. See more »
The Vikings, in Europe of the 8th and 9th century, were dedicated to a pagan god of war, Odin. Trapped by the confines of their barren ice-bound northlands, they exploited their skill as shipbuilders to spread a reign of terror, then unequaled in violence and brutality in all the records of history.
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One of the rare 1950s films to present all the credits at the end. See more »
In many TV broadcasts, two bits seem to be missing from the final battle scene. One of these is a close-up of an arrow hitting a man in the neck and the other is of Eric (Tony Curtis) running through a passage and stabbing an enemy. See more »
Big budget, starry-cast, historical, make that almost pre-historical, action movie where a one-eyed Kirk Douglas plays a rumbustious (that's putting it mildly) Viking prince and his unwitting half-brother Tony Curtis (the offspring of Douglas's dad, King Ragnar's, rape of the British queen on a previous raid, years before) a soon-to-be one-handed British slave who are both vying for the love of Welsh princess Janet Leigh, whilst Ernest Borgnine as Ragnar eggs his boy on from the sidelines. There's also a minor sub-plot about the Vikings crossing the water to remove from power the new, cruel, usurping English king who's tricked Curtis's Eric out of his birthright to be king himself and who to seal the deal just happens to get himself betrothed to the young Leigh.
The movie is beautifully shot in natural light in and around actual Norwegian fjords which look superb in big-screen colour and the recreation of the Viking long-boats by the film's carpenters is also remarkable, but if I'm starting a review by praising the backgrounds, it probably means there's a want in the foreground, and so it proves.
Douglas's boorish Einar looks old enough to be Eric's half-father and his usually drunken behaviour hardly endears him to the viewer. At one point he is determined to rape Leigh's Princess Morgana and is only stopped by Curtis's timely intervention. Curtis's character, unusually, is a man of few words but even with a beard, the young Tony doesn't completely convince playing it strong and silent. The object of their affections, Janet Leigh, appears able to bewitch these two the minute they clap eyes on her, which I suppose is fair enough as she does look lovely in her robes, but she's not really required to do much between simpering and occasionally seething.
There are some odd scenes of I presume authentic old Viking customs, if you exclude feasting, drinking and womanising on a Henry VIII scale that is, like "walking the oars" and strangest of all the method of proving a wife's infidelity which involves putting her in a set of stocks, then nailing up her outstretched hair plaits and inviting her allegedly cuckolded husband to free her by throwing axes to sever her plaits. Talk about being saved by a hair's breadth. Elswhere there's no stinting on the crowd scenes and the battle scenes are reasonably exciting if not wholly convincing.
This film was reasonably entertaining as a spectacle but for me was let down by the hackneyed plotting, use of extreme coincidence and shallow characterisation. Douglas and Curtis of course would get back into tunics and sandals a few years later, but this time with a better tale to tell and under a master director in Stanley Kubrick. To paraphrase a famous line from that movie however, this film here isn't "Spartacus".
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