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Camelot

USA 1967
produced by
Jack L. Warner for Warner Brothers/Seven Arts
directed by Joshua Logan
starring Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero, Gene Merlino (voice), David Hemmings, Lionel Jeffries, Laurence Naismith, Pierre Olaf, Estelle Winwood, Gary Marshal, Anthony Rogers, Peter Bromilow, Sue Casey, Gary Marsh, Nicholas Beauvy, Fredric Abbott, Leon Greene, Michael Kilgarriff, Christopher Riordan
screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner, based on his play, based on by T.H.White, music by Frederick Loewe, music supervisor and conductor: Alfred Newman

King Arthur, Merlin

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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King Arthur (Richard Harris), who has just conquered the heart of lovely Guenevere (Vanessa Redgrave), decides to found the Round Table, a sort of think tank for extraordinary knights, and it doesn't take long before the most extraordinary of them all, Sir Lancelot du Lac (Franco Nero, singing voice: Gene Merlino), arrives at his court and proves to be not only a fierce fighter but also a fine thinker, and soon enough he has won the King's trust and friendship. However, to the rest of Arthur's court, the chaste and spartan Lancelot is more of a freak, so much so that Guenevere decides to have him taught a lesson at the next tournament, by having the three fiercest knights of the court (Gary Marshal, Anthony Rogers, Peter Bromilow) fight against him - but Lancelot not only defeats all three of them, he also revives one of them who was already pronounced dead.

This completely changes Guenevere's opinion about Lancelot, and the two immediately fall in love. Arthur apparently just knows that his wife has fallen for his best friend (and by just knowing, he derives the story of much of its emotional impact), and is heartbroken ... and in his moment of weakness, Mordred (David Hemmings), his treacherous son from a one-night stand, gains access to and control over the Round Table, with the sole purpose of destroying it.

Soon enough too, Mordred gets his hands on Lancelot and Guenevere, whom he catches committing adultery red-handed, and he has them tried in the newly founded court of justice. But while Lancelot manages to make a getaway, Guenevere is convicted to dath by burning.

As a king, Arthur is supposed to watch the execution, which would of course break his heart (just what Mordred wants), but until the very last minute he hopes that Lancelot would arrive with an army to free her - and at the very last minute, Lancelot does just that, and also has his revenge on Mordred. However, due to that, Arthur's kingdom lies in shambles, his valiant ideas go up in smoke and he is left a broken man ...

 

The King Arthur legend told as a musical ?

Now that pretty much spells desaster, and in that respect (but only in that respect), Camelot is not all bad: At least it's carefully directed (even if the direction lacks any inventiveness), the sets are quite ok, and the actors all deliver solid performances.

That said, the rest of the movie pretty much stinks: The dreadfully cheesy tunes derive the plot of pretty much all of its impact and all of its seriousness (while at the same time, it never foes for comedy either), plus Vanessa Redgrave's singing voice is never up to her songs, and all of the singing seems to do little more than add to the film's running time (almost three hours) since none of it seems to really carry the narrative along. And does a film like this really need an overture and an intermission music ? I mean this is not opera, and the music really isn't all that good.

Rather a waste of time, actually, but maybe of some curiosity value (at best) ...

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

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On the same day
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A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
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written by
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starring
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out now on DVD