The Black Shield of Falworth (1954)

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The Fifties enjoyed a bout of jousting, knights, chivalry, swords and damsels in distress, cruel aristos and injustices righted by decent kings. Tony Curtis is a peasant who discovers he and his sister Barbara Rush are actually the children of a man who was falsely accused of treason and murdered by beastly David Farrar, who aspires to the Crown of Henry IV;  Janet Leigh is the daughter of Herbert Marshall who will ultimately reinstate them as their protector and a friend of their late father. Curtis trains to be a knight and gets revenge by killing Farrar in trial by combat and America’s sweethearts get together in the end after some very funny scenes, with Craig Hill bringing up the rear very handsomely indeed. Lushly photographed by Irving Glassberg with a rousing soundtrack by Hans Salter and well directed by Rudy Mate. Oscar Brodney adapted Howard Pyle’s novel, making several crucial plot changes. A Universal Production.

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Camelot (1967)

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“Don’t let it be forgot/That once there was a spot/For one brief shining moment/that was known as Camelot.” Might for Right. Justice for All. Proposition:  does nominative determinism predispose one to a penchant for a particular film? Um, yes, in my case I was named to love all things Arthurian – even this, a famously lambasted adaptation of the long-running stage hit from Lerner and Loewe. The show was adapted from TH White’s The Once and Future King and Lerner did the screenplay which was directed by Josh Logan, a man not unfamiliar with the musical genre. King Arthur is looking back at his life on the eve of battling his best friend, Lancelot du Lac, whose romance with Queen Guinevere has broken up their marriage and the Round Table and the dreams of law and chivalry, with impish David Hemmings as the bastard Mordred planning a takeover. If you don’t find your heart beating lighter when Franco Nero sings to Vanessa Redgrave one of the great songs, If Ever I Would Leave You… then you must be made of stone. They fell in love in real life, Redgrave bore him a son and then in 2006 they finally married. In an art-imitates-life-imitates-art scenario they were reunited onscreen as former teenage lovers reuinited in old age in Letters to Juliet (2010). Even at 3 hours there are several songs omitted as well as the character of Morgan Le Fay, but hey, it’s less problematic than time-travelling to Broadway circa 1960. This is the musical that made Richard Harris a very wealthy man when he spent years touring it. Great Bank Holiday viewing! Now, where’s my soundtrack album…