- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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King Richard's Boring Pageantry
I went into this movie expecting an exciting crusades movie, but honestly, it's hard to recommend. In terms of a human drama, it's ineptly written at best. The actors do the best with what they've got, but what they've got are two-dimensional characters with foggy motivations at best. Virginia Mayo is relegated to eye candy, and Rex Harrison is bafflingly miscast as Saladin. It's fun to see so many talented people together (and in such glorious cinemascope technicolor), but the plot leaves much to be desired, with most of the action centering around various medieval men vying for a boring female lead. It utterly dissolves in the last act into a farcical 'chase for the girl' scenario, though the ending fight on a raising drawbridge is pretty cool. To the film's credit, the portrayal of the Muslims as significantly more unified and civilized than the Christian forces is downright progressive for its day, even if Saladin is being played in brownface. Technically, the film can be mostly praised. The score is really quite good, the costumes are elegant and colorful, and the superwide aspect remains something to behold. However, some of the effects have aged badly, and the human story isn't interesting enough to forgive them. Fights are mostly confused flailing, and the lack of sympathetic characters renders them boring. This film is living proof that you can't BUY a good movie, but you sure can pretty-up a bad one. As a historial epic, the film totally fails. As a historical costume drama, it's light fare at best. Worth seeing if you're a fan of Rex Harrison or really love crusade movies. Just don't expect much crusading.
Deserved a better fate
- Lewis G.
A poor script and the wasted talents of many fine actors have combined to put this movie on a back burner. HOWEVER - the rousing music score by the incomparable Max Steiner and the suave easy flowing natural acting style of Rex Harrison go a long way to redeeming this Medieval mish mash. Some of the cast look like left overs from MGM's "Ivanhoe" which in fact they are (Sanders and Douglas for two). Yet, if you approach this movie on its own terms, it is no worse than DeMille's "The Crusades". Harrison's performance alone is worth the price of admission (though it is reported that he hated the film). With proper casting according to appropriate age and temperament, this movie might have pulled it off. As it is, one is reminded of "The Lion in Winter" and goes round and round until the final denoument. The vernacular and anachronistic dialogue spoken by so many of the characters who are also far two-dimensional doesn't help either. Since the movie is based upon pure fiction in the first place, it is ultimately easy to accept; and the rich technicolor and costumes provide enough eye candy. In the end, it appears that the powers that be couldn't decide whether they should make a comedy or a drama and wound up with neither. A younger, better, and less fickle Richard; an adjustment in the Virginia Mayo part; a far better script; and no cartoon-like baddies could have resulted in another "Ivanhoe" (which was also pure fiction). But, it is what it is. Take it or leave it. At the least, it has its moments and does no harm.
King Richard and the Crusaders (1954)
- Celia Trimboli
Very good Medieval adventure. Beautiful color.
Why is Warner's sitting on this one?!!
- Bill L.
With a stalwart, talented and familiar cast of actors & actresses; with a dynamic score by Max Steiner, great color CinemaScope photography and a stereo soundtrack, this almost-forgotten action epic has no right to disappear from the public eye. Warners: let this one out of storage via Warner Archives, please!