Knights of the Round Table (1953) – A Movie Review

Here’s a costume drama in Cinemascope with a good cast and a decent scripting of the Arthur legend.  Robert Taylor is Lancelot and Ava Gardner is Guinevere.  Their star-crossed love dooms Arthur and Camelot as it always does and Mel Ferrer does a serviceable job in the role.  Felix Aylmer is a welcome addition as Merlin.  I greatly enjoyed his performance as Polonius in Olivier’s Hamlet.  This is a much lesser part but he still makes it an enjoyable character.

This production is a spirited melodrama that spins the story pretty well.  The battle scenes are well staged and sizable and the sword fights are pretty good.  In this version Lancelot is given extra scope.  He is even allowed to kill Mordred or Modred as he is called in this version instead of giving that honor to Arthur.  The ending has an angelic vision of the Holy Grail given to Percival which also announces that Lancelot’s son Galahad will be the perfect knight and then for good measure the celestial voice also tells Lancelot that his sins are forgiven.  Alright, so this is a bit much for a costume drama.  And it sort of oversteps the bounds of this kind of adventure story, I think.

But it’s a fun movie with plenty of sword fighting and really bad villains and very likeable good guys so it gets the job done.

As far as a recommendation, this movie falls into the same category as a good “cowboys and injuns” shoot ’em up.  If you’re in the mood for one it’s harmless fun but if you’re not don’t bother.