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Thursday, November 15, 2012

King Richard And The Crusaders (1954)

Set in the late 12th century during the third crusade to the Holy Land to "recover" Jerusalem form Islamic rule, King Richard the Lion Hearted (George Sanders) must deal with treachery within his own camp as well as negotiating with The Saladin (Rex Harrison), leader of the Moslems. Based on the Sir Walter Scott novel THE TALISMAN, the film has the ambitions of an Epic (it was Warners first film in the new CinemaScope process) but the execution of a routine costume potboiler. Who's idea was it to hand over the reins of a big scale epic to David Butler, better known for Bob Hope comedies and Doris Day musicals? Ostensibly set in Jerusalem, the topography screams Southern California. But it's nowhere near as bad as it reputation suggests. In fact, it's rather amusing to see Harrison and Laurence Harvey's on screen contest to see who can give the worst performance (Harvey wins, easily). There's a strong score by Max Steiner. With lovely Virginia Mayo, Robert Douglas, Paula Raymond, Michael Pate and Nick Cravat.

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