Cast & Crew
In England long ago, King Arthur first encounters his bride-to-be, Guenevere, in the enchanted forest surrounding his castle at Camelot. Following their royal wedding, Arthur's happiness inspires him to establish The Knights of the Round Table, an order of chivalry in which all members will be bound by a common desire to aid the oppressed, keeping faith with trust and honor. A young knight, Lancelot Du Lac, journeys to England to join the order when Arthur's call reaches France. Brave and purehearted, Lancelot quickly becomes the most celebrated of all Arthur's knights. Guenevere at first resents his popularity, but after watching him apparently breathe life back into the body of a knight he has wounded in a jousting match, her scorn turns to admiration and ultimately to love. Despite their deep affection for Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot become secret lovers. Arthur refuses to pay heed to the rumors circulating throughout his court and sends into exile all those who defile the names of Lancelot and Guenevere. Arthur's illegitimate son, Mordred, arrives at Camelot to seek a declaration of his identity, and when he is refused, he spitefully wins the aid of several knights in trapping Lancelot and Guenevere in a love tryst. Lancelot escapes, but Guenevere is found guilty at a trial by jury and sentenced to be burned at the stake. Forced to support the ruling of his own court, Arthur watches in grateful silence when Lancelot rides into the courtyard, frees Guenevere, and carries her to safety. Guenevere enters a convent, and as Arthur and Lancelot prepare to battle, Arthur reflects sadly on the dream that was to have been Camelot. Songs : "I Wonder What the King Is Doing Tonight" (King Arthur), "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood" (Guenevere), "Camelot" (chorus & King Arthur), "C'est moi" (Lancelot), "The Lusty Month of May" (Guenevere & chorus), "Follow Me," "Children's Chorus" (chorus), "How To Handle a Woman" (King Arthur), "Take Me to the Fair" (Guenevere, Sir Lionel, Sir Dinaden & Sir Sagramore), "If Ever I Would Leave You" (Lancelot), "What Do the Simple Folks Do?" (King Arthur & Guenevere), "I Loved You Once in Silence" (Guenevere), "Guenevere" (chorus).
John W. Brown
Richard H. Kline
Alan Jay Lerner
Alan Jay Lerner
M. A. Merrick
Jean Burt Reilly
Jack L. Warner
Best Art Direction
Best Costume Design
For director Joshua Logan, a film version of Camelot was an opportunity to correct the faults he found with the Broadway musical, despite its huge success. For one thing, he thought Richard Burton made a very distracted, absent-minded king and he felt that Julie Andrews was too wholesome as Guenevere whom he saw as a true femme fatale. The biggest problem for Logan though was the character of Lancelot, played by Robert Goulet on Broadway. In Logan's autobiography Movie Stars, Real People, and Me, he wrote that Lancelot is "probably the most difficult part to play....Lancelot is French and has come across the Channel to espouse Arthur's passionate cause. He happens to be a holy young man who is able to perform miracles, including bringing back to life one of the knights he has killed in jousting. He does this by praying. And shortly thereafter he readily goes to bed with Arthur's wife. Lancelot is, so to speak, a holy cad. All of which makes him very difficult to play." Logan hoped to correct all these problems with his movie version but his biggest battle was convincing studio mogul Jack Warner to let him film it on location in Europe where castles and historic buildings from the period were still in abundance. Warner refused, demanding that the whole production be filmed on the Warners back lot. Through a strange quirk of fate, Warner soon relented his decision after receiving some tax loophole advice by his creative accounting department and gave Logan the green light.
After scouting various shooting locations for Camelot, Logan decided not to film in England despite a surplus of medieval castles there. The reason being, according to his autobiography, that "the castles in England are either in ruins or have modern additions, whereas Spain is filled with entire castles that were built in the Middle Ages." Eventually the director chose the castle at Coca, Spain for Camelot and the elegant Alcazar in Segovia for Lancelot's fortress, Joyous Gard.
Prior to the financial arrangements Logan spent a considerable amount of time searching for his ideal cast. Richard Harris, the critically acclaimed Irish actor who had just completed Hawaii (1966) with Julie Andrews, was so anxious to play the role of Arthur that he agreed to do a screen test for the part. Despite his reputation as a sometimes difficult actor with a fondness for alcohol, Harris proved he was up to the musical demands of the role with his unique singing style. For Guenevere, Logan desperately wanted Vanessa Redgrave after seeing her in the madcap comedy, Morgan - A Suitable Case For Treatment (1966), but he had to wait several months to get her since she was committed to a play in London - The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. As for the role of Lancelot, Logan chose a relatively unknown Italian actor named Franco Nero who matched all the physical requirements for the handsome knight but had to do extensive work on his English and his singing.
As expected for a production of this magnitude, there were plenty of headaches and problems to solve during the filming. The jousting stunts had to be worked out carefully and safely, the knights' armor (composed of a synthetic rubber) had to be pliable and relatively lightweight, the period detail right down to Guenevere's bridal bouquet at her wedding had to be authentic. The real wild card was the actors. Richard Harris turned out to be a practical joker on the set and for a post-marriage bath scene with Redgrave he startled everyone by strutting onto the set completely nude and sporting a large erection. Redgrave was more problematic for Logan, insisting on "creative" enhancements to her dialogue, costumes, and character. For one musical number which accents Guenevere's playful attitude towards Lancelot, she baffled the director by singing her lyrics in French. When questioned as to why, she said, "We're making fun of Lancelot, aren't we? And he's French. Well, the whole idea is that by singing it in French we're making more of a joke of him." Luckily, after an exhausting debate, Logan managed to get her to record the lyrics in English.
But Redgrave also had good suggestions as well. It was her idea to do the song, "Take Me to the Fair," in a constantly changing setting with new backgrounds and costumes for every change of verse to show the passage of time. Most of the big musical numbers were filmed on the Warner Brothers back lot and in her autobiography, Vanessa Redgrave, the actress recalled that "there were hundreds of daffodils and dozens of apple trees in blossom for the 'Lusty Month of May,' all planted and watered and timed to blossom at the beginning of January. Joshua Logan's excitement and enthusiasm, and the skills of hundreds of Warner's craftsmen and women, working for the last time on permanent contract, had transformed the back lot and the sound stages into an extraordinary series of tableaux vivants. Guenevere's dress was made of finely crocheted cream wool cobwebs, hung with bleached melon seeds, each cobweb with a sea-shell at the centre." It was also on the set of Camelot that Redgrave fell in love with co-star Nero (They would go on to have a child together and co-star in two Italian films before ending their affair).
As production on Camelot reached the final phase of its shooting schedule, Logan showed up on the set one day to discover that Jack Warner was pulling the plug on the film due to its runaway budget. He allowed them only one more day to shoot everything they needed. Logan recalled, "I began to pile up in my mind all the various things that we still had to do - Arthur's speech at the Round Table about Guenevere and Lancelot, for instance - bits and pieces of Lancelot's miracle at the jousting match...All of it was hysterical, but we kept on shooting until three or four in the morning. Finally I called a halt, deciding that if we missed anything we'd just have to come back. But we never shot another foot. Jack wouldn't allow it. And we squeezed by. Since it did turn out to be the most beautiful picture I ever made, perhaps Jack was right. At least I had to thank him for giving me a chance to work on such a historically beautiful project."
For the 1967 Academy Awards competition, Camelot received Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Sound, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, Best Costume Design, and Best Music Score Adaptation, winning the statuette for the latter three categories.
Producer: Joel Freeman
Director: Joshua Logan
Screenplay: Alan Jay Lerner, based on the novel The Once and Future King T.H. White
Production Design: Edward Carrere, John Truscott
Cinematography: Richard H. Kline
Costume Design: John Truscott
Film Editing: Folmar Blangsted
Original Music: Ken Darby, Frederick Loewe
Principal Cast: Richard Harris (Arthur), Vanessa Redgrave (Guenevere), Franco Nero (Lancelot), David Hemmings (Mordred), Lionel Jeffries (Pellinore), Laurence Naismith (Merlyn), Pierre Olaf (Dap), Estelle Winwood (Lady Clarinda), Gary Marshal (Sir Lionel).
By Jeff Stafford
Richard Harris, 1930-2002 - TCM Remembers Richard Harris
Harris was born October 1, 1930, in Limerick, Ireland, one of nine children born to farmer Ivan Harris and his wife, Mildred Harty. He was a noted rugby player as a youth, but shortly after his move to London in the mid-50s, Harris studied classical acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. After a few years of stage experience, he made his screen debut in Alive and Kicking (1958) and quickly developed a reputation as a talented young actor. His film career became increasingly impressive with such strong supporting turns in Shake Hands with the Devil (1959), The Guns of Navarone (1961) and Mutiny on the Bounty (1962).
Yet it wasn't until 1963 that Harris became an unlikely star after thrilling movie viewers and critics with his electrifying performance in This Sporting Life. His portrayal of a bitter young coal miner who becomes a professional rugby star marked the arrival of a major international talent and won him the Best Actor award at Cannes and an Oscar nomination.
Strangely enough, Harris' next projects were multimillion dollar epics and he went largely unnoticed amid the all-star casts; he had a small role as Cain in John Huston's production of The Bible (1966) and in Hawaii (1966) he played a sea captain who falls in love with a married woman (Julie Andrews). He also tried his hand at a mod spy comedy opposite Doris Day - Caprice (1967). A much better role for him was playing King Arthur in the film version of the Broadway hit Camelot (1967). The movie was not well received critically, but Harris' singing skills proved to be a surprise; not only did he win a Golden Globe for his performance, but the film's soundtrack album proved to be a bigger commercial hit than the film itself. Even more surprising was his unexpected success the following year with the pop hit "MacArthur Park" - that kitsch cornerstone of lounge karaoke. The song just missed topping the Billboard singles chart in the "Summer of 1968;" It was topped by Herb Albert's "This Guy's In Love with You."
The '70s proved to be a mixed bag for Harris. He scored a huge commercial hit with his best-known film of that decade, A Man Called Horse (1970). It became a cult Western and featured him as an English aristocrat captured, tortured and eventually adopted by Sioux Indians. He also showed some promise behind the camera, co-writing the screenplay for the psychological thriller The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun (1970) and directing (as well as starring) in The Hero (1972), a drama about an aging soccer star. But the quality of films in which Harris appeared declined as the decade progressed: Orca (1977) - a terrible Jaws rip-off, The Wild Geese(1978), and worst of all, Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981), in which he had a thankless role as Bo Derek's explorer father.
Based on those films and his general inactivity in the '80s, Harris' comeback performance in The Field (1990) was a wonderful surprise. In that film he played a man who has nurtured a field into a prized piece of real estate only to lose his sanity as the property is taken from him; the role earned him a deserved Oscar nomination and showed that he was still a vital screen presence. Harris took full advantage of this new spurt in his career by committing himself to many fine character roles: the cool, refined gunslinger in Unforgiven(1992), his intense portrayal of a father mourning the death of his son in Cry the Beloved Country (1995), the resident villain of Smilla's Sense of Snow (1997), and as the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius in the epic Gladiator (2000).
Yet Harris will probably be best remembered by current audiences for his portrayal of Dumbledore, the benevolent and wily head of Hogwarts School in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) which will be released nationwide in just three weeks. Harris is survived by his three sons, Jared, Jamie (both actors) and the director Damian Harris.
by Michael T. Toole
Richard Harris, 1930-2002 - TCM Remembers Richard Harris
Don't let it be forgot / That once there was a spot / For one brief shining moment / That was known as Camelot!- King Arthur
Merlin, make me a hawk! Let me fly away from here!- King Arthur
In short, there's simply not / a more congenial spot / for happily ever aftering than here in Camelot.- King Arthur
Merlin told me once never to worry about it if you don't know what a woman is thinking. They don't do it that often.- King Arthur
Must we talk about Mordred? This is the first time in a month that he's not coming to dinner and not having him makes it seem like a party!- Guinevere
The song "If Ever I Would Leave You" (erroneously called "If Ever I Should Leave You" in the citation), was nominated for a Golden Globe Award as Best Original Song Written For A Motion Picture, even though it was not written especially for the film but for the original stage production of "Camelot", and all the other nominees were songs especially written for films. This is the only instance in the history of the Golden Globe Awards that this has happened.
Alan Jay Lerner used the film screenplay, rather than his original stage version, as the basis for the 1980's Broadway revival of "Camelot".
The Great Hall of Camelot took up nearly an entire sound stage at Warner Bros. Studios in Hollywood, and was one of the largest indoor sets built up to that time.
Location scenes filmed in Spain. Blown up to 70mm for some roadshow engagements. Cammelot was the last film Jack L. Warner produced before leaving the studio.
Released in United States 1967
Released in United States January 2003
Shown at Palm Springs International Film Festival (Special Tribute) January 9-20, 2003.
Released in USA on video.
Production was Jack Warner's last for the Warners Studio.
Released in United States 1967
Released in United States January 2003 (Shown at Palm Springs International Film Festival (Special Tribute) January 9-20, 2003.)