This post will make most of you seriously question my taste in movies if not my sexuality. Most people of my generation have never heard of 'Prince Valiant', nor would most care to. My parents were big fans of the long running comic series so as teenagers they were excited about the film version. It once played on TV when I was a kid and my parents recorded it for my viewing pleasure.
The movie is loosely based on the old comic where the exiled Viking Christian Prince Valiant flees to England to warn King Arthur of the impending invasion by Pagan Vikings. Valiant (Robert Wagner) is welcomed by Arthur and soon learns the art of British knightship by Sir Gawain (Sterling Hayden). Upon his travels through the English countryside he learns of an unholy alliance between the Black Knight (James Mason) and the anti-Christian Vikings. He also falls in love with Princess Aleta (Janet Leigh), who's also caught the eye of Gawain.
After being captured by the bad Vikings Valiant is taken back to his homeland and of course we have your epic castle raid led by the good Vikings against the bad ones. Valiant then takes back his families prized relic the singing sword. After the battle is won the young Prince goes back to England and confronts the black knight.
Robert Wagner, sporting the infamous hairdo, is horribly miscast and most of the acting is atrocious. The plot is paper thin. The script has numerous problems, such as one of the best unintentional funny lines ever in the history of film, "To arms sire, to arms. The Christians. They're attacking." For some reason hearing that makes me giggle even now. During the time the Arthur legend was supposed to take place I don't think Christianity even made it to Norway, but I guess audiences during the 50s wouldn't have accepted a Pagan hero.
Mid 50s medieval pictures have always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Movies like 'Ivanhoe' and 'Prince Valiant' always seem to have gorgeous settings, fun stories, great action, and hot women. No matter how bad they were told, they were great stories where chivalry ruled, where knights were noble, and evil always got a good ass whooping. It was always a world I wanted to live in as a child and sometimes even today I dream of a reality such as the one Hollywood created for that time; however unrealistic as it may have been.
"I don't think you should hurt or kill animals just to entertain an audience. Animals should have some rights. But there are a lot of directors, including Ingmar Bergman, who will injure animals to further a plot. I will have none of it."- James Mason