Splendidly miscast, beautifully photographed, and watchable
H. Hodgkin | Montana | 01/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Well, folks, it was 1954. Not many of you were there, but speaking as someone who was 10 years old when he first saw this film, it was the "thing that dreams were made of." You have to look at films from the early fifties without reference to what you get today. Good special effects meant that he studio fans actually blew all of the costumes in the same directions. The studio system was about to die. Movies paid the bills with star's faces. A 10 year old went to see the story, and this is a great story. You can watch this movie. It isn't history, or fantasy. It is just a lot of fun from a time when you could set through it a second time for free if you called you mom and asked her not to come get you for two more hours. Put this in your collection and you can watch it once a year and enjoy it. And if you really want historical accuracy, this film is it. It is just exactly what films were all about in 1954 before TV came along and shrunk everything into one syllable."
Good for Dads to watch with little boy-knights
Nicholas Dujmovic | Vienna, Virginia | 11/07/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Three cheers to fellow reviewers who identified problems discerning adults will have with this film: the miscasting, the dull acting of Robert Taylor, the AWOL acting of Mel Ferrer, the bad accents, the lost plot threads (what about that Holy Grail?).
But for watching with a little boy, plastic sword in hand, this is great stuff. It's good where it needs to be good: the action, particularly the battle scenes; the scenery; the costumes and weaponry. Moreover, the talk of honor is done seriously, and the Christian piety expressed is a very good thing (and a rare thing, too, in films these days). One can talk around the business of adultery and talk about trust and promises and love on the one hand, and gossip and intrigue on the other. Overall, a delightful film for the young; my six year old son and I will be seeing this a few times. Recommended."
Calvary Charges, Fierce Battles and Pageantry
Peter Kenney | Birmingham, Alabama, USA | 07/12/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE is a movie about the classic tale of King Arthur, Sir Lancelot and Guinevere. Lancelot's ill-fated love for Guinevere is played out against a background of cavalry charges, fierce battles and pageantry. The plot is amplified by the rivalry between Lancelot and Mordred as well as Sir Percival's quest for the Holy Grail. Merlin appears in the film as an advisor to Arthur and Lancelot's wife dies while giving birth to the future Sir Gallahad.Robert Taylor as Lancelot and Mel Ferrer as Arthur are both superb. Ava Gardner makes a beautiful Guinevere but her acting seems to be a little flat. The strong supporting cast includes Stanley Blake, Felix Aylmer and Robert Urguhart.KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE received Academy Award nominations for Best Color, Art Direction and Sound. The main competition for Oscars in 1953 came from STALAG 17, ROMAN HOLIDAY and FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.Richard Thorpe also directed Robert Taylor in IVANHOE in 1952."
GENERALLY STILTED PRODUCTION - NICE LOOKING DVD
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 07/02/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Knights of the Round Table" was MGM's first feature in the newly christened widescreen format of Cinemascope and the studio's inexperience with a 2:35:1 aspect ratio, in retrospect, is rather obvious. The audience is treated to drawn out battle scenes (that are thrilling) and lavish spectacle. But the whole look and feel of the film is very theatrical, like Shakespeare on stage. Robert Taylor, usually so natural, is uncomfortably stiff as Lancelot, while Mel Ferrer fairs slightly better as King Arthur. Ava Gardner is wasted as Gueneviere. Sets and rear projection are glaringly obvious. Over all, for its historical context in the early days of widescreen film, more than entertainment value, "Knights" is a worthwhile movie.
Warner Home Video has given us a generally good looking print. No attempt has been made to remove age related artifacts from the negative. Overall, the quality of the transfer is very smooth though, at times, it can seem somewhat digitally harsh. Exterior footage tends to suffer from a considerable amount of film grain while interiors are well balanced. Black levels are perhaps a bit weak and fine details are lost in the darker scenes. Close ups look gorgeous. Long shots suffer from pixelization. Fades between scenes tend to suffer from a sudden grainy quality that is customary for all Cinemascope film stock of this period. The audio is stereo surround and amply provided for considering the limitations in the original recording. EXTRAS: Mel Ferrer comments on the film's production. There's a featurette movietone trailer and the film's original theatrical trailer too.
OVER ALL: Not a bad movie but an incredibly dated one, "Knights of the Round Table" nevertheless offers up a good example of vintage Cinemascope film making from the 1950's."
KING ARTHUR - HOLLYWOOD STYLE
Zorikh Lequidre | Brooklyn, NY | 07/15/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Rule one of King Arthur stories: there is no "definitive" version. Every writer or filmaker adjusts the story to serve their audience and/or the point they are trying to make. That being said, this version was created to serve the Hollywood epic audience to tell a tragic story of love and war in the middle ages, and it does that job.The story here follows Arthur gaining the throne and his friendship with Lancelot, both of which are threatened by Lancelot's love for the Queen, Guenevere, and the ambitions of Morgan, Arthur's half-sister, and her champion, Mordred. The film is filled with the kind of spectacle you would expect form a miod-'50's Cinemascope epic. There are battles, jousts, swordfights in woods, fields, castle steps, court pageantry, heraldry, court dancing, challenges, court intrigue, and a passionate kiss or two. Merlin is there, but there is no "magic" to speak of. He is there mostly as an advisor to Arthur.The acting is rather stilted. Robert Taylor has about two expressions, mouth open and mouth closed. Niall MacGinnis is at his stoic worst. Mel Ferrer keeps a straight face and does express some of the sadness of the king's position. The women (Ava Gardner as Guenevere, Anne Crawford as Morgan) get to emote, Crawford especially playing off Stanley Baker as a sinister plotter.The use of heraldry is very effective. The designs are mostly of period style, and allow the viewer to tell who is who. The armor shows some very good work, marred only occasionally by non-period details. The swordfights, though falliing into the typical Hollywood style of holding the shield behind, taking big wind-up swings, and stabbing the armpit, is done with verve and energy. One battle scene is a direct swipe of Olivier's Henry V, only more exciting. The cosumes are almost completely the product of the designers imagination, only somewhat inspired by period styles.This was MGM's first Cinemascope movie, and it shows. I have seen it both in pan-and-scan and in a Widescreen DVD. In p&s, the cinematography looks downright boring and uninspired. In widescreen, you realize that each shot was carefully composed to make maximum use of the whole screen. The action on screen is still a little stiff, but the picture is beautiful and, in some instances, powerful. Unfortunately, I don't know of any widescreen editition in the USA.The differences in the plot of this movie and "Le Morte D'Arthur," which is credited as the source material, could fill a book, and the period style of the costume, armor, and production design fits more the period in which it was written (1400's) than in which it is set (post-Roman Brittain). The script is corny, but if you can get into it, that's part of the fun. This movie is worth seeing at least once, being generous towards the Hollywood sensibilities under which it was made."