Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ivanhoe (1952)

Director: Richard Thorpe

Starring: Robert Taylor, Elizabeth "back when she was HOT" Taylor, Joan Fontaine, George "Badass" Sanders

More Info: IMDB

Plot Outline: Returning from the Crusades in the Holy Land, Ivanhoe learns that King Richard the Lionheart is imprisoned in Austria. Once in England, his pleas to pay the ransom fall on deaf ears as Prince John and cronies enjoy their current situation far too much. Joining forces with Robin of Locksley, Ivanhoe takes steps to raise the money all the while trying to re-establish his relationship with his father who disowned him years previously.

My Rating: 6/10

Would I watch it again? I'll try something else in this genre first

IVANHOE is a beautiful looking film with striking locations and eye-popping costumes. It's outstanding as far as the production values go. It held my attention but it didn't command it. Why didn't I like it more? I don't know...maybe I was expecting a little more action. But then again, it all seemed familiar. You could easily have substituted Robin Hood for Ivanhoe and you wouldn't think anything of it. Hell, Robin Hood is in it except he's only referred to as Locksley. I guess the original novelist, Sir Walter Scott, was trying to add to the legends with something a little different.

The biggest problem is with it's casting of Ivanhoe with American, Robert Taylor. Everyone else in the film is English. Robert Taylor speaks with his American accent. I couldn't help but be remembered of Kevin Costner's Robin Hood where he "tried" to speak with an English accent half the time and the other half with his regular voice - they both failed miserably. It's kinda like that here. Taylor's voice just doesn't cut it. There are times when it really gets in the way. I just don't think he's got a commanding voice which, for a picture/role like this, you should have. His acting seemed fine. Errol Flynn he ain't (who, at the time, was only 2 years older than Taylor). I would have rather seen an aging Flynn in that role than Taylor. Taylor did at least look the part. The facial hair suited him. Looking through his credits I don't think I've seen any of his films. He did KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE the very next year. It's on the way from netflix. We'll see...

Now George Sanders, on the other hand, KNOWS how to speak and knows how to act. This guy's a beast and makes a great adversary for Ivanhoe. I've seen him in a few pictures, even some comedies, and he just rocks in every one. This guy has a commanding presence that just dares you to watch him. I'm sure he played lots of villains in his time and it's those pictures I'm going to have to seek out.

Elizabeth Taylor was 20 when she made this. HUBBA FUCKING HUBBA!!! WOW! I CHI WAWA!! What a knockout she was back then. And I thought she was hot in CLEOPATRA (1963). Woof! By the late 60s she was starting to lose it but boy was she smokin' back then. Her acting? She did well.

We do get some knight action going on with a GREAT joust scene where Ivanhoe goes up against five knights, one after the other. The stunt work in that is great. Then later on there's a castle siege with the bad guys, and the good guys as captives, are holed up in this castle while Locksley and his gang are throwing arrows all over the place. There's more than a few shots of a shitload of arrows (some grouped together a bit too conspicuously) flying over the castle that gets a laugh or two. The siege is great fun but the film doesn't end there. There has to be a duel between Robert Taylor and George Sanders or you don't have a movie. Guess who wins? And while I'm at it, why does EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE MOVIES have King Richard return at the very last minute and bring happiness to the land? I'd like to see a movie where the pussified King John is still King at the end. Where are the origin stories of how John came into power? Where are all the middle stories where John is in control? I'd like to see those for a change.

The MGM disc looks absolutely gorgeous. Sadly, the only extras are a Tom & Jerry cartoon and 3 trailers - IVANHOE, KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE and one of my all time favorites, SCARAMOUCHE.

It's actually pretty fun and beautiful to look at but somehow I felt like there should have been more. Maybe it's because THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) with Errol Flynn is one of my all time favorites. But then again, maybe it's because IVANHOE isn't as good as it should have been.

No comments:

Post a Comment