A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court


1h 47m 1949
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Brief Synopsis

A blow to the head sends an auto mechanic back to the days of Camelot.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Historical
Musical
Fantasy
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Apr 22, 1949
Premiere Information
New York opening: 7 Apr 1949
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain (New York, 1889).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,712ft

Synopsis

In England in 1912, Hank Martin, an American blacksmith, visits the Pendragon castle and tells Lord Pendragon, who is laid up with a head cold, the story of how he fell in love with Alisande La Carteloise, whose portrait hangs on the castle wall. Years earlier, in Connecticut, Hank is knocked out in a storm and wakes in the year 528 A.D. He is immediately seized by a dim-witted knight named Sagramore and brought before the aging King Arthur of Camelot, who has a head cold. Sagramore accuses Hank of possessing demonic powers, and Merlin, the king's wicked sorcerer, orders him killed, although Alisande, the king's beautiful niece, pleads with her uncle to spare the handsome stranger's life. Hank escapes being burned at the stake by focusing the crystal from his pocket watch on the sun, thus starting a fire that ignites Merlin's robe. Believing that Hank has supernatural powers, the king grants him the terms of their surrender: That Sagramore be made Hank's squire; that Hank be given a humble blacksmith's shop; and that the king host a ball in his honor. Hank is dubbed "Sir Boss," and at the ball, he and Alisande fall in love, as he teaches her to wink. She is betrothed to Sir Lancelot, however, who is a brave warrior and knight of the round table. Lancelot returns to Camelot and challenges Hank to a duel; the winner will marry Alisande. Hank uses his little horse Tex and a lasso to defeat Lancelot, but Alisande is furious at him for humiliating Lancelot and refuses to marry him. At his blacksmith's shop, Hank builds a pistol and is visited by a young peasant girl who says her father is dying of the plague. By the time Hank arrives, the man is dead. The mother then explains that her two sons have been imprisoned for a crime they did not commit. Hank convinces the king to take a tour of his country disguised as a simple yeoman so that he may see the true suffering of his people. While he is away, Merlin, Morgan Le Fay, the king's wicked niece, and the evil Sir Logris plot to usurp the throne. Sagramore, Hank and the king are kidnapped and sold into slavery to Merlin. Alisande arrives to save them, but is herself jailed. After Sagramore kills a guard, Alisande, Hank and the king are sentenced to death for Sagramore's crime. Alisande gives her amulet to Hank and pledges her eternal love. Just before they are to die by the chopping block, Hank predicts a solar eclipse after consulting his copy of The Farmer's Almanac , and when the sky goes black, they escape. Hank races to Merlin's tower to save Alisande and shoots a guard. Back in the present, Lord Pendragon tells Hank to go down to the castle balcony. There he finds Alisande, Lord Pendragon's niece, who winks at him.

Cast

Bing Crosby

Hank Martin [also known as Sir Boss]

Rhonda Fleming

Alisande La Carteloise

Sir Cedric Hardwicke

King Arthur/Lord Pendragon

William Bendix

Sir Sagramore

Murvyn Vye

Merlin

Virginia Field

Morgan Le Fay

Joseph Vitale

Sir Logris

Henry Wilcoxon

Sir Lancelot

Richard Webb

Sir Galahad

Alan Napier

High executioner

Julia Faye

Lady Penelope

Mary Field

Peasant woman

Ann Carter

Peasant girl

George Cathrey

Sir Kay

Tay Dunn

Sir Persant

Hugh Prosser

Sir Belvidere

Olin Howlin

Postman

Gordon Richards

Guide

Charles Coleman

Butler

John Goldsworthy

Guard

Vernon Dent

Guard

Vesey O'davoren

Castle servant

Ottola Nesmith

Lady tourist

John "skins" Miller

Skins/Idiot #1

Tony Cirillo

2d idiot

David Stollery

Billy

Dick Keene

Royal cook

Art Stewart

Lancelot's man at arms

Paul Scardon

White-haired peddler

George Douglas

Sergeant at arms

Jim Davies

Slave overseer

Duke Johnson

Juggler

Eric Alden

Jailer

Russ Saunders

Acrobat

Fred Zendar

Peasant

Larry Lawson

Henchman

Bob Morgan

Henchman

Jimmie Dundee

Henchman/Sergeant at arms

Donya Dean

Noblewoman/Slave

Victor Travers

Peasant man

Fred Sweeney

Peasant man

Evelyn Riggs

Peasant woman

Alex Harford

Little man

Larry Thompson

Watchman

Arthur Foster

Axman

Colin Campbell

Executioner

Olaf Hytten

1st tailor

George Kirby

2d tailor

Anthony Jowitt

Bidder at auction/Townsman

James Davies

Bidder

Roger Moore

Bidder

Joseph Marr

Bidder at auction

Reginald Sheffield

Auctioneer

Daphne Nelson

Slave

Harry Wilson

Slave attendant

Ginger Mitchell

Townslady

Dorothy Phillips

Townslady

Francis Morris

Townslady

Joey Ray

Townsman

Lester Dorr

Townsman

Leonard Mudie

Aide to mayor

Frederic Worlock

Mayor

Lucille Barkley

Page girl

Doreen Mccann

Girl

George Nokes

Boy

B. G. Norman

Boy

Timmie Hawkins

Boy

Jimmie Hawkins

Boy

David Stollery

Boy

Robert Graham

Boy

Jean "babe" London

Crew

Roland Anderson

Art Director

Ralph Axness

2d Assistant Director

Edmund Beloin

Screenwriter

Charles Berner

Makeup Artist

Bud Brill

2d Assistant Director

Monroe W. Burbank

Associate (Color)

Johnny Burke

Composer

Frank Caffey

Production Manager

Sam Comer

Set Decoration

John Cope

Sound Recording

Archie Dalzell

Camera Operator

Billy Daniels

Dance Supervisor

Ruth Davis

Wardrobe

Barney Dean

Contr on Special seq

Mary Kay Dodson

Costumes

Jan Domela

Special Photographer Effects

Hans Dreier

Art Director

Josephine Earl

Dance Director

Farciot Edouart

Process Photography

Joe Egli

Casting Director

Robert Fellows

Producer

Lyle Figland

Stage eng

Bertram Granger

Set Decoration

Lee Hall

Assistant cutter

Lupe Hall

Script Supervisor

John Hamilton

Technicolor tech

George Harrington

Wardrobe

Cliff Hartley

Mike grip

Bill Hurley

Stock Supervisor

Gordon Jennings

Special Photographer Effects

R. L. Johnston

Production Manager

Natalie Kalmus

Technicolor Color Consultant

Howard Kelly

Gaffer

Charles Leahy

Assistant Camera

Harold Lewis

Sound Recording

Joseph J. Lilley

Voc Arrangements

Nellie Manley

Hair

Al Mann

Dance Assistant

Archie Marshek

Editing

Robert Mccrillis

Props

Curtis Mick

Assistant prod Manager

Charles J. A. Miller

Technical Advisor

Jim Miller

Recording

Albert Nozaki

Art Director

Shirley Page

Wardrobe

Sally Rawlinson

Dance Assistant

Ray Rennahan

Director of Photography

G. E. Richardson

Stills

Irmin Roberts

Special Photographer Effects

Oscar Rudolph

Assistant Director

Troy Sanders

Music Associate

Joe Schuster

Electrician

Eric Selig

Wardrobe

Karl Silvera

Makeup Artist

Gile Steele

Men's Wardrobe

Floyd Symington

Pub

Vera Tomei

Hair

Darrell Turnmire

Grip

Van Cleave

Special orch Arrangements

James Van Heusen

Composer

James Vincent

Dial coach

Wally Westmore

Makeup Supervisor

Harold Worthington

Props Assistant

Victor Young

Music Score

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Historical
Musical
Fantasy
Sci-Fi
Release Date
Apr 22, 1949
Premiere Information
New York opening: 7 Apr 1949
Production Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain (New York, 1889).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9,712ft

Articles

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949)


By 1949, after nearly two decades, Bing Crosby was still Paramount's premier attraction. Popular with movie going audiences since signing with the studio in 1932, the likeable crooner proved himself as a thespian extraordinaire with 1944's mammoth success Going My Way, winning an Oscar for Best Actor. Blue Skies (1946) - an Irving Berlin follow-up to the smash Holiday Inn (1942) - re-teamed the singer with former co-star Fred Astaire, and literally went through the roof, becoming one of Paramount's all-time box office champs.

The previous year had seen the release of Road to Utopia - the latest in the Crosby/Bob Hope/Dorothy Lamour laugh fests - and proceeded to live up to its title becoming 1945's top grossing picture. Added to his soaring record sales and highly rated Philco radio series, Bing ruled the post-war years, pre-eminently at Paramount where his current contract granted him director/cast/writer approval. His busy schedule permitting, the shrewd star made sure to throw in an occasional Technicolor special, and Crosby's choice of directors for these prime projects seemed (at least on the surface) a bit odd. Blue Skies had been helmed by Stuart Heisler, a former editor-turned-director, whose forte for action pictures and noirish dramas began with 1942's The Glass Key. The Emperor Waltz (1948) was a Billy Wilder extravaganza, who, while renowned as the co-writer of such confections as Ninotchka (1939) and Ball of Fire (1941), had, during this period, only directed one comedy (The Major and the Minor, 1942); his last two movies had been Double Indemnity (1944) and The Lost Weekend (1945). Now with the Technicolor cameras set to roll on a tailor-made remake of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (previously filmed in 1921 and again ten years later as an acclaimed Will Rogers talkie), Crosby turned once again to filmdom's darkest corners - selecting Tay Garnett, best known for his classic adaptation of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946).

Like Billy Wilder, Garnett, while synonymous with tough, gritty pictures (Bataan, 1943), had a formidable background in comedy, having entered the industry in 1920 as a gag writer for Mack Sennett and Hal Roach. The wily Bing knew the post WWII viewers needed their laughs tempered with sarcasm and irony, and these "unlikely" directors more than fit the bill.

Paramount, who would pull out all the proverbial stops for the upcoming production, began with the cast: certainly the role of the easy-going Hank, a New England mechanic mysteriously transported back to the days of Camelot, fit Crosby like a glove, and with such stellar support as William Bendix, Murvyn Vye, Henry Wilcoxon and Alan Napier, the right cogs indeed seemed to be in place. Bing's female co-star would be the gorgeous flame-haired Rhonda Fleming, still new to the motion picture scene but already on her way to challenging Maureen O'Hara for the title of Queen of Technicolor. Her appearance in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court would not let her growing fans down: sumptuously adorned in Edith Head creations, she was, in a word, ravishing. Finally, as an aging, runny-nosed King Arthur, Cedric Hardwicke walked away with most of the best reviews, giving a thoroughly delightful comic performance.

The funny anachronistic script was penned by Edmund Beloin, an A-list Forties scribe, who had provided Paramount with a slew of hilarious cinematic bulls eyes including Road to Rio, Bob Hope's sidesplitting My Favorite Brunette (both 1947), as well as two Jack Benny classics, Buck Benny Rides Again and Love Thy Neighbor (both 1940). As for the music score for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, it was composed by Victor Young and featured some classy Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen compositions. However, a major contribution to the picture's enormous favor with critics and audiences alike was the spectacular Technicolor camerawork, courtesy of the brilliant Ray Rennahan, who by 1949 was the industry-acknowledged master of the process having worked on two-strip test films in the early 1920s. Rennahan's stunning work for the Technicolor company resulted in such landmark productions as Whoopee! (1930), Doctor X (1932), Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), Kid Millions (1934 - the first live action three-strip sequence), Becky Sharp (1935 - the first full-length three-strip feature), and Wings of the Morning (1937 - the first British Technicolor feature). Not surprisingly, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was one of 1949's movie highlights, putting yet another feather in Paramount's Crosby cap, in addition to remaining the best filmed version to date of Twain's beloved story.

Producer: Robert M. Fellows
Director: Tay Garnett
Screenplay: Edmund Beloin, based on the novel by Mark Twain
Art Direction: Roland Anderson, Hans Dreier
Cinematography: Ray Rennahan
Costume Design: Mary Kay Dodson, Edith Head, Gile Steele
Film Editing: Archie Marshek
Original Music: Victor Young, Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen
Cast: Bing Crosby (Hank Martin), Rhonda Fleming (Alisande La Carteloise), Cedric Hardwicke (King Arthur), William Bendix (Sir Sagramore), Murvyn Vye (Merlin), Henry Wilcoxon (Sir Lancelot), Virginia Field (Morgan Le Fay), Joseph Vitale (Sir Logris).
C-107m.

by Mel Neuhaus

A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court (1949)

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949)

By 1949, after nearly two decades, Bing Crosby was still Paramount's premier attraction. Popular with movie going audiences since signing with the studio in 1932, the likeable crooner proved himself as a thespian extraordinaire with 1944's mammoth success Going My Way, winning an Oscar for Best Actor. Blue Skies (1946) - an Irving Berlin follow-up to the smash Holiday Inn (1942) - re-teamed the singer with former co-star Fred Astaire, and literally went through the roof, becoming one of Paramount's all-time box office champs. The previous year had seen the release of Road to Utopia - the latest in the Crosby/Bob Hope/Dorothy Lamour laugh fests - and proceeded to live up to its title becoming 1945's top grossing picture. Added to his soaring record sales and highly rated Philco radio series, Bing ruled the post-war years, pre-eminently at Paramount where his current contract granted him director/cast/writer approval. His busy schedule permitting, the shrewd star made sure to throw in an occasional Technicolor special, and Crosby's choice of directors for these prime projects seemed (at least on the surface) a bit odd. Blue Skies had been helmed by Stuart Heisler, a former editor-turned-director, whose forte for action pictures and noirish dramas began with 1942's The Glass Key. The Emperor Waltz (1948) was a Billy Wilder extravaganza, who, while renowned as the co-writer of such confections as Ninotchka (1939) and Ball of Fire (1941), had, during this period, only directed one comedy (The Major and the Minor, 1942); his last two movies had been Double Indemnity (1944) and The Lost Weekend (1945). Now with the Technicolor cameras set to roll on a tailor-made remake of Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (previously filmed in 1921 and again ten years later as an acclaimed Will Rogers talkie), Crosby turned once again to filmdom's darkest corners - selecting Tay Garnett, best known for his classic adaptation of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946). Like Billy Wilder, Garnett, while synonymous with tough, gritty pictures (Bataan, 1943), had a formidable background in comedy, having entered the industry in 1920 as a gag writer for Mack Sennett and Hal Roach. The wily Bing knew the post WWII viewers needed their laughs tempered with sarcasm and irony, and these "unlikely" directors more than fit the bill. Paramount, who would pull out all the proverbial stops for the upcoming production, began with the cast: certainly the role of the easy-going Hank, a New England mechanic mysteriously transported back to the days of Camelot, fit Crosby like a glove, and with such stellar support as William Bendix, Murvyn Vye, Henry Wilcoxon and Alan Napier, the right cogs indeed seemed to be in place. Bing's female co-star would be the gorgeous flame-haired Rhonda Fleming, still new to the motion picture scene but already on her way to challenging Maureen O'Hara for the title of Queen of Technicolor. Her appearance in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court would not let her growing fans down: sumptuously adorned in Edith Head creations, she was, in a word, ravishing. Finally, as an aging, runny-nosed King Arthur, Cedric Hardwicke walked away with most of the best reviews, giving a thoroughly delightful comic performance. The funny anachronistic script was penned by Edmund Beloin, an A-list Forties scribe, who had provided Paramount with a slew of hilarious cinematic bulls eyes including Road to Rio, Bob Hope's sidesplitting My Favorite Brunette (both 1947), as well as two Jack Benny classics, Buck Benny Rides Again and Love Thy Neighbor (both 1940). As for the music score for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, it was composed by Victor Young and featured some classy Johnny Burke and Jimmy Van Heusen compositions. However, a major contribution to the picture's enormous favor with critics and audiences alike was the spectacular Technicolor camerawork, courtesy of the brilliant Ray Rennahan, who by 1949 was the industry-acknowledged master of the process having worked on two-strip test films in the early 1920s. Rennahan's stunning work for the Technicolor company resulted in such landmark productions as Whoopee! (1930), Doctor X (1932), Mystery of the Wax Museum (1933), Kid Millions (1934 - the first live action three-strip sequence), Becky Sharp (1935 - the first full-length three-strip feature), and Wings of the Morning (1937 - the first British Technicolor feature). Not surprisingly, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was one of 1949's movie highlights, putting yet another feather in Paramount's Crosby cap, in addition to remaining the best filmed version to date of Twain's beloved story. Producer: Robert M. Fellows Director: Tay Garnett Screenplay: Edmund Beloin, based on the novel by Mark Twain Art Direction: Roland Anderson, Hans Dreier Cinematography: Ray Rennahan Costume Design: Mary Kay Dodson, Edith Head, Gile Steele Film Editing: Archie Marshek Original Music: Victor Young, Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen Cast: Bing Crosby (Hank Martin), Rhonda Fleming (Alisande La Carteloise), Cedric Hardwicke (King Arthur), William Bendix (Sir Sagramore), Murvyn Vye (Merlin), Henry Wilcoxon (Sir Lancelot), Virginia Field (Morgan Le Fay), Joseph Vitale (Sir Logris). C-107m. by Mel Neuhaus

Quotes

Pardon, my lord, but the monster seemeth a gentle soul.
- Alisande La Carteloise
Gentle?
- King Arthur
He has nice eyes.
- Alisande La Carteloise
If there were aught I could say, aught I could do to save thee...
- Sir Sagramore
Well, ain't there aught?
- Hank Martin
Naught.
- Sir Sagramore

Trivia

The footage of the solar eclipse was taken during an actual eclipse.

Notes

The film's title card reads: "Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." Twain's novel was adapted by Herbert Fields into a Broadway musical which opened on November 3, 1927, with music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart. Although Paramount purchased the rights to this musical and other treatments based on Twain's novel, the play was not used as a basis for this film. Writers Arthur Horman, Jack Moffitt, Graham Baker, N. Richard Nash and William Morrow worked on various treatments; however, information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library confirms that they did not contribute to the final film.
       Patric Knowles was considered for the role of "Lancelot." According to a Par News item, the jousting tournament scene was shot at the Busch Gardens in Pasadena, CA, and Charles J. A. Miller, an authority on the Middle Ages, was hired to make sure the jousting was authentic. Par News also reported in mid-November 1947 that thirty acres of grassy woodland in Sherwood Forest, CA, was being painted with vegetable dye to change it from a fall yellow to a spring green for the king's walking tour scenes. Information in the Paramount Collection at the AMPAS Library reveals that castle exteriors were shot on location at Laguna Beach, CA.
       Earlier film versions of Twain's story include the 1920 Fox-Mark Twain Co. film A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, directed by Emmett J. Flynn and starring Harry Myers (see the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.0780); and the 1931 Fox film A Connecticut Yankee, directed by David Butler and starring Will Rogers (see the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.0801). In addition, Walt Disney Pictures released Unidentified Flying Oddball in 1979, based upon Twain's novel, directed by Russ Mayberry, A Kid in King Arthur's Court in 1995, directed by Michael Gottlieb and starring Thomas Ian Nicholas and Joss Ackland, and a 1998 made-for-television movie entitled A Knight in Camelot, starring Whoopi Goldberg.