Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: James Mason, Janet Leigh, Robert Wagner, Debra Paget, Sterling Hayden
Director: Henry Hathaway
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama
Overthrown and driven into exile, the king of Scandia has fled to Britain with his wife and son, Prince Valiant (Wagner). As a young man, Val hoes to King Arthur's court, where he is befriended by Sir Gawain (sterling Hayd... more »
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Exuberant Camelot Adventure a Great Family Film!
Benjamin J Burgraff | Las Vegas | 09/28/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"There is such a sense of childlike wonder and fun in Henry Hathaway's 1954 Camelot tale, PRINCE VALIANT, that it's easy to forgive the obvious incongruities in accents (Robert Wagner's broad American tones...hard to believe he plays Donald Crisp's son...Sterling Hayden, looking and sounding more like Wild Bill Hickok than Sir Gawain...Victor McLaglen as the most Irish Viking you'll ever see!), and concentrate, instead, on the energy, pageantry, and sweep of Hathaway's adaptation of Hal Foster's classic comic strip.
Certainly, one would be hard-pressed to assemble a finer cast; in addition to Wagner, Hayden, McLaglen, and Crisp, you have James Mason as the villain, Sir Brack, dazzling, and far more believable than he had been as Rupert of Hentzau in MGM's remake of THE PRISONER OF ZENDA; Janet Leigh and Debra Paget, both ethereally beautiful as the sisters, Aleta and Ilene; and Brian Aherne, as King Arthur, so perfect in the role that you wish his part had been larger.
In the early 1950s, there was a resurgence of swashbuckling films in Hollywood, and a new sub-category appeared, 'Knights in Training', with Fox's PRINCE VALIANT, and Universal's THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH (starring Tony Curtis) both devoting ample screen time to the education of squires in the knightly skills of jousting and sword fighting. These scenes are great fun to watch, particularly for children (knights had to go to school, too!), and paint a far more accurate picture of the difficult work involved in mastering the required talents than did the recent film, A KNIGHT's TALE.
As we follow the adventures of the Viking Prince as he restores his kingdom, finds love, and wins a place at the Round Table, special credit must be given to Franz Waxman's spectacular music. One of the most memorable scores ever produced for a film, the theme has become a staple at the Hollywood Bowl, and for the Boston Pops. Once heard, it is not forgotten!
While the magical elements of the story are downplayed (the mystical powers of the 'Singing Sword' are more implied than actually shown), the story itself has such a sense of wonder that it isn't missed. The heroes of Camelot are all present (Arthur, Lancelot, Guinevere, Gawain, and Galahad), and the Round Table scenes are as majestic as any film has ever accomplished.
PRINCE VALIANT may not be in a league with EXCALIBUR, but it certainly holds it's own against KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE, CAMELOT, and FIRST KNIGHT, and as a family film it can't be beat!
Yankees in King Arthur's Court !
peterfromkanata | Kanata, Ontario Canada | 08/23/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Released in 1954, "Prince Valiant" is as much fun for the whole family now as it was fifty years ago. This colourful, Cinemascope movie is a feast for the eye, and thoroughly entertaining from start to finish. You have a brave young hero to cheer for--a nasty villain to "hiss"--action--romance--beautiful sets, locations, costumes--and Henry Hathaway's expert direction.
A very young Robert Wagner stars as "Prince Valiant", a Viking who wishes to become a knight in the court of King Arthur--he certainly cuts a dashing figure, once you get used to a rather outlandish, but compulsory, Prince Valiant wig ! Valiant soon finds himself involved in a treacherous plan to oust his own father, King Aguar ( laid-back, avuncular Donald Crisp ), and--zounds !--King Arthur himself ( laid-back, avuncular Brian Aherne ). Of course, our hero still finds time to fall in love with Princess Aleta ( gorgeous Janet Leigh )--not enough romance ?--well, Aleta's handmaiden, Ilene ( sultry Debra Paget ) is "smitten" with Valiant's mentor, Sir Gawain ( a bluff and hearty Sterling Hayden ). Stirring up the whole pot is the ambitious, unscrupulous Sir Brack ( James Mason, stealing scenes with ease ). We have a very lively jousting scene, plenty of battles, narrow escapes and other feats of "derring do". There is, in fact, never a dull moment ! There are more than a few "camp" aspects to this movie, not the least of which are those strong American accents of Mr.Wagner and, especially, Mr.Hayden. Remember "The Black Shield of Falworth" when Tony Curtis, in heavy Bronx accent, says " take me to da castle of my fadda " ? There are a few smiles like that here.
The DVD is beautiful--you will be hard pressed to find many films more colourful than this lovely Cinemascope gem from Fox. Extras are sparse--a few trailers and a brief promotional clip from the fifties. Some comments from Robert Wagner would have been fun--fifty years later, and he still looks great--I wonder what he eats for breakfast ? !
While it may not be in the same class as "The Adventures of Robin Hood", "Prince Valiant" remains a fine example of Hollywood swashbuckling hokum that will not wear out its welcome with repeated viewings. Recommended."
Not really Foster's Val, but GREAT anyway!
peterfromkanata | 10/03/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie, released in '54, must have frustrated many diehard fans of Foster's original classic strip. While it carries over much of its source material's spirit and enthusiasm, the plot is WAY off and some of the characters emerge as entirely different beings (e.g. Princess Aleta, Gawain, even Val himself.)Still, it works surprisingly well. In fact, this film is actually much more enjoyable than the far more faithful '90s remake. This fact is attributable, I believe, to the script for the '54 version, which transformed Foster's lusty picaresque strip into a glorious send-up of Victorian boy's books and blood-and-thunder dime novels. In fact, fans of the now-revived juvenile fiction of G.A. Henty should view this as almost a tribute to that great author, complete with relentless Victorianisms and a theme of paganism versus emerging "muscular Christianity."As a sidenote of interest, this film also seems to have influenced Foster's writing as well. His strips from the late fifties through the the sixties actually began to take on much of the world-view of this classic film.By the way, your kids-- even if they are jaded techno-junkies-- WILL love this. They may just have trouble admitting it."
F. Adcock | Silsbee, Texas United States | 10/13/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Before the youthful Luke Skywalker learned to be a Jedi Knight, the youthful Prince Valiant learned to be a knight in King Arthur's court. Hal Foster's Sunday comic strip was a logical story to bring to the screen, in the wake of MGM's "Ivanhoe" and "Knights of the Round Table", when "sword epics" were getting their second wind.
As a film, "Prince Valiant" works rather well on several fronts, although there are a couple of minor drawbacks. One is the casting of Sterling Hayden as Sir Gawain, a role that should have brought more of a combination of heroic ego and a bit of comic relief. Another bit of questionable casting is that of Victor McLaglen as the leader of the Christian Vikings. He's barely recognizable behind that beard, but the moment when he first opens his mouth - and that Irish brogue spills forth - will lift a few eyebrows. The Vikings are all stereotypes, of course, complete with horned helmets and burly beards. In fact, when shown as a group, they look like a cattle call for mascot auditions at a Minnesota football game.
But the positive aspects of this movie rule the day. James Mason makes a fine villain, just the kind everyone would "love to hate". My guess is that 1954 must have been Mason's year. Besides "Prince Valiant", he starred opposite Judy Garland in "A Star is Born", and created perhaps his greatest role, that of Captain Nemo in Disney's "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". Robert Wagner as Valiant is on shaky ground at the film's start, but he proves himself at the end. The late Janet Leigh makes a most beautiful "damsel in distress", and the almost overlooked Debra Paget matches Leigh's beauty in the role of her sister. The final, climactic sword duel must rank in excitement with the ones in "The Adventures of Robin Hood" and the more recent "Rob Roy".
Franz Waxman's score is one of his finest in a long career, full of melody and swagger. If the exhuberant opening main title music doesn't positively lift you out of your seat, I suggest you make an appointment for an MRI.
The print is fine, with lively color to go with the always slightly defocused Cinemascope image (Technirama and Panavision would later prove to be far better in both picture and sound). Overall, a very good piece of entertainment, guaranteed to send a rush."