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Knights of the Round Table (film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Knights of the Round Table
Knights of the Round Table (film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Thorpe
Screenplay by
Based onLe Morte D'Arthur
1485 book
by Sir Thomas Malory
Produced byPandro S. Berman
Starring
Narrated byValentine Dyall
Cinematography
Edited byFrank Clarke
Music byMiklós Rózsa
Production
company
Distributed byLoew's, Inc.
Release date
  • 22 December 1953 (1953-12-22)
Running time
115 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$2.6 million[1]
Box office$8.1 million[1][2]

Knights of the Round Table is a 1953 British-American historical Technicolor film made by MGM in England and Ireland. Directed by Richard Thorpe and produced by Pandro S. Berman, it was the first film in CinemaScope made by the studio. The screenplay was by Talbot Jennings, Jan Lustig [de] and Noel Langley from Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, first published in 1485 by William Caxton.

The film was the second in an unofficial trilogy made by the same director and producer and starring Robert Taylor, coming between Ivanhoe (1952) and The Adventures of Quentin Durward (1955). All three were made at MGM's British studios at Borehamwood, near London and partly filmed on location. The cast included Robert Taylor as Sir Lancelot, Ava Gardner as Queen Guinevere, Mel Ferrer as King Arthur, Anne Crawford as Morgan Le Fay, Stanley Baker as Modred and Felix Aylmer as Merlin. The film uses the Welsh spelling for Arthur's nemesis, Modred, rather than the more common Mordred.

In addition to the same producer, director and star, the first two films in the trilogy had the same cinematographer (F. A. "Freddie" Young), composer (Miklós Rózsa), art director (Alfred Junge) and costume designer (Roger Furse). The costumes for this film were executed by Elizabeth Haffenden.[3] In 1955, she would take over from Furse as costume designer for the final film in the trilogy, Quentin Durward. Alfred Junge remained as art director.

Plot

With the land in anarchy, warring overlords Arthur Pendragon and his half-sister Morgan LeFay meet as arranged by the sorcerer Merlin to discuss how to end the bloodshed. Merlin leads them to Excalibur, a sword embedded in an anvil and says that according to legend, whoever can remove the sword shall be King of England. Arthur removes the sword easily. Morgan's lover Modred accuses Merlin of witchcraft and a hearing is arranged with the Council of Kings at the Ring of Stones. The next spring, Arthur goes to war against Modred and wins, earning him the crown.

French knight Sir Lancelot rescues Arthur's fiancée Guinevere from being kidnapped by a mysterious knight. After Arthur and Guinevere's wedding, Lancelot pledges his allegiance. Arthur swears to join the select group of knights at the Round Table and England enjoys a period of peace and prosperity. During this time, Lancelot rides north to defend England's border with Scotland and Sir Percival goes in search of the Holy Grail.

Morgan and Modred continue to harbor ill feelings against Arthur, and note with interest the growing warmth between Lancelot and Guinevere. Modred calls a meeting of Arthur's enemies in Scotland and urges them to make peace so that Lancelot will be exposed as Guinevere's lover.

Late one night, jealous after seeing Lancelot kiss another woman, Guinevere goes to his rooms, and Modred's men soon arrive to arrest them for high treason. Lancelot and Guinevere are tried in absentia at the Round Table and declared guilty. Lancelot walks in and surrenders, and when he confesses his chaste love for Guinevere, Arthur revokes their death sentence. Outraged, Modred turns the other knights against Arthur, and civil war returns to the land.

Arthur is mortally wounded in battle. With his dying breath, Arthur commands Lancelot to destroy Modred and give Guinevere his love and forgiveness. Lancelot conveys Arthur's message to Guinevere, then rides to Modred, challenging him to a fight to the death.

Cast

All names with an asterisk (*) are credited on the "Cast" page (p62) of Knights of the Round Table: A Story of King Arthur - Text based on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film (Ward, Lock • London and Melbourne) [1954]

Cast notes

Some performers - the first two here appearing in several scenes and with several lines to speak - were uncredited. These include: Ralph Truman as King Marr of the Picts, Henry Oscar as King Mark of Cornwall, Desmond Llewelyn as a herald, and Patricia Owens as Lady Vivien. Valentine Dyall spoke the opening narration.

Production

The film had some sequences shot near Tintagel Castle, Cornwall, with local people as extras. Scenes for the first battle were shot at Luttrellstown Castle Estate in Co. Dublin, Ireland. Woodland scenes and the hawking scenes were shot at Ashridge Forest, Herts. The Torquilstone Castle set designed by Alfred Junge for Ivanhoe (1952) was expanded and re-dressed as Camelot. Most of the indoor filming was at MGM-British Studios, Borehamwood, Herts.

George Sanders was originally cast as Modred but fell ill prior to shooting and was replaced by Stanley Baker, who had just made an impression in The Cruel Sea (1953).[4]

The film was apparently shot on Eastmancolor stock, like Quentin Durward (1955), but it was advertised only as being 'in COLOR magnificence'. [See poster on Infobox above.] The film itself credits no color process. IMDb attributes the prints to Technicolor's laboratory, but it is not listed as one of the corporation's film prints in Fred E Basten's book Glorious Technicolor.[5]

Production was interrupted by labor disputes when two hundred extras (all members of the British extras' union) struck, demanding a pay increase. After a monthlong strike that affected other productions, MGM finally agreed to meet the union's demands.[6]

MGM was sued for $5 million for plagiarism in 1956 with a claim that the film was based on a script submitted to them in the 1930s. The judge ruled that both the film and the earlier script were based on Le Morte d'Arthur and Alfred, Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King and rejected the claim.[7][8]

Film reception

The film being shown in Singapore in 1954
The film being shown in Singapore in 1954

Box office

According to MGM records, the film earned $4,518,000 in the US and Canada and $3,578,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $1,641,000.[1]

Responses

Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, gives Knights of the Round Table reports that 67% of six surveyed critics gave the film a positive review; the average rating was 6/10.[9]

Moreover, Knights of the Round Table has received mixed reviews from the majority of critics. Bosley Crowther of The New York Times found Knights of the Round Table to be a refreshing, enjoyable film that resembled "a spectacular, richly costumed Western film", stating that the new CinemaScope technology brought the film to life.[10] Decent Films Guide reviewer Steven D. Greydanus gave the film a "B", stating, "a solid adaptation of the King Arthur legend, Knights of the Round Table benefits from its colorful pageantry and strongly Christian milieu, including a royal Catholic wedding and a transcendent moment of revelation involving the Holy Grail."[11]

Awards and nominations

Knights of the Round Table was nominated for two Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Color (Alfred Junge, Hans Peters, John Jarvis) and Sound Recording (A. W. Watkins).[12][13] It was also nominated for the Grand Prix at the 1954 Cannes Film Festival.[14]

Bibliography

Knights of the Round Table: A Story of King Arthur - Text based on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer CinemaScope film (Ward, Lock • London and Melbourne) [1954]

Both the crew and cast credits published at the front (crew) and back (cast) of the book are much fuller than those in the U.S. prints. They appear to come from variant U.K. prints prepared for British cinemas. It's known that contractual obligations required that Miklos Rozsa's score had to be recorded in England (by the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Muir Mathieson) as well as being recorded in Hollywood by Rozsa himself.[15] This version of the score may have been used in British prints. Currently (2018) only a U.S. print is available on DVD.

Comic book adaption

References

  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. ^ 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1954', Variety Weekly, 5 January 1955
  3. ^ Knights of the Round Table: A Story of King Arthur - Text based on the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer CinemaScope film (Ward, Lock • London and Melbourne) [1954] page 5
  4. ^ "Tamiroff set for UK film". The Mail. Adelaide: National Library of Australia. 1 August 1953. p. 4 Supplement: SUNDAY MAGAZINE. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  5. ^ Fred E Basten • Glorious Technicolor: The Movies' Magic Rainbow (A S Barnes/Thomas Yoseloff • 1980) pp169-194
  6. ^ Steinhart, Daniel. (2019). Runaway Hollywood: Internationalizing Postwar Production and Location Shooting. University of California Press. p. 101. ISBN 978-0-52-029864-4.
  7. ^ "Company & Author Both Cribbed Same Classic; M-G Escapes Liability". Variety. 26 February 1958. p. 4. Retrieved 27 September 2021 – via Archive.org.
  8. ^ Knights of the Round Table at the American Film Institute Catalog
  9. ^ "Knights of the Round Table (1954)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  10. ^ Crowther, Bosley (8 January 1954). "Knights of the Round Table (1953)". The New York Times. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  11. ^ Greydanus, Steven D. "Knights of the Round Table (1953)". DecentFilms.com. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  12. ^ "The 26th Academy Awards (1954) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 20 August 2011.
  13. ^ "NY Times: Knights of the Round Table". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. 2009. Archived from the original on 3 March 2009. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  14. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Knights of the Round Table". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 25 January 2009.
  15. ^ "FSM: Knights of the Round Table (Miklós Rózsa)".
  16. ^ "Dell Four Color #540". Grand Comics Database.
  17. ^ Dell Four Color #540 at the Comic Book DB (archived from the original)
  18. ^ http://www.bigblogcomics.com

External links

This page was last edited on 4 May 2022, at 03:18
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