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The working title of the film was The Talisman. Voice-over narration is heard intermittently at the beginning of the film. Sir Walter Scott, who is credited with inventing the historical novel, based the highly romanticized novel, The Talisman, on real events and people. Richard I (1157-1199), who was also known as Coeur de Lion or Lion-Hearted, led the Third Crusade (1189-1192) and although he led several battles against the forces of Saladin or Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub (ca. 1137-1193), who was sultan of Egypt and Syria, he eventually returned to Europe without gaining the city of Jerusalem for Christianity.
Hollywood Reporter news items add the following actors to the cast: William Steele, Kansas Moehring, David Kashner, Jeanne Baker, Velma Cragin, Laraine Knight, Madelyn Wittlinger, Nick Thompson, June Leabow and Ben Corbett, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. A December 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Norman Stuart as dialogue director for the film, although only Demetrio Vilan is listed onscreen. Portions of the film were shot at the Ray Corrigan Ranch, nicknamed "Corriganville" in Simi Valley, CA and the Warner Ranch in Calabasas, CA, according to a February 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item. A February 1954 San Francisco Chronicle adds that other location shooting took place at a desert near El Centro, CA.
A June 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that the film's premiere at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood was delayed by the extended run of the highly successful John Wayne film, The High and the Mighty. When King Richard and the Crusaders premiered on July 8, 1954, the festivities were simulcast on KABC-TV and radio. According to a July 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item, the premiere marked the first use of an aperture developed by Warner Bros., which adapted the film's projection to any screen size and allowed theaters to show films of any gauge.
Although a San Francisco Chronicle article noted that the screenplay had little do to with Scott's novel, the Hollywood Reporter review praised the filming of the "famous desert combat" between Kenneth and Saladin as effective, and a July 1954 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that USC professor Dr. Frank C. Baxter, who was noted for his Shakespeare on Television program, proclaimed the film to be "a good example of bringing fine literature to the American public." A January 1954 Los Angeles Daily News news item noted that the Great Dane portraying "Roswal," Kenneth's loyal and discerning wolfhound, wore false ears in the film.
Although the Variety review cited King Richard and the Crusaders as Laurence Harvey's Hollywood debut, the British actor had appeared in the 1950 Twentieth Century-Fox British co-production, The Black Rose. Another film based on Scott's novel, The Talisman, is the 1923 Associated Authors production Richard, the Lion-Hearted, which was directed by Chet Withey and starred Wallace Beery as King Richard and Charles Gerrard as Saladin (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30). Historical figures King Richard I and Saladin also appear in the 1935 Paramount production The Crusades, directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Loretta Young, Henry Wilcoxon and Ian Keith as "Berengaria," "Richard" and "Saladin," respectively (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). The character of "King Richard I" also appears in many of the films about Robin Hood, including the 1938 Warner Bros. production The Adventures of Robin Hood, directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Errol Flynn (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). In the late 1990s, actor Arnold Schwarzenegger and director Paul Verhoeven were interested in filming an epic action film set in the eleventh century, titled Crusade, but financial concerns halted the project and, as of 2005, the film has not been produced. In May 2005, Twentieth Century-Fox released Kingdom of Heaven, a feature about a young man coming of age during the Crusades. That film was directed by Ridley Scott and starred Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson.