Monday, September 26, 2022

Henry Hathaway, Richard Fleischer, Roger Corman, Anthony Mann, and Howard Hughes: VIKINGS, TARTARS, and MOORS!

 

A question, what are John Wayne, Sidney Poitier, Kirk Douglas, Robert Wagner and Orson Welles doing in an article about Vikings, Tartars, and Moors?

This is a look at Seven "Historical" motion pictures, mostly without a moment of real historic accuracy, but filed with escapism!

I start my article with the usual six-day wonder from producer and director Roger Corman. Which happen to have a favorite motion picture title of mine, but one that would never fit on a movie theater marquee.


THE SAGA OF THE VIKING WOMEN AND THEIR VOYAGE TO THE WATERS OF THE GREAT SEA SERPENT released, depending upon your location in the United States, either in December 1957, or April 1958. 

The title was reduced to fit that movie marquee, as simply, THE VIKING WOMEN AND THE SEA SERPENT, but with a typical exciting American International Pictures poster by the uncredited Ronald Brown.




The opening credits of this motion picture are in the form of an ancient book that a hand turns the pages and contains Roger Corman's complete film title.



 














Compared to some of Roger Corman's other motion pictures, this picture was pure "Shlock", but an eleven-years-old kid didn't care.


The Main Cast:

Abby Dalton portrayed "Desir", who proposes the women go in search of their missing menDalton became known to television viewers for co-starring with Jackie Cooper on the television series, "Hennesey", from 1959 through 1962, and the television series, "The Joey Bishop Show", from 1962 through 1965.



 











Susan Cabot portrayed "High Viking Priestess and Evil Bitch, Enger". Cabot was known to Corman fans for two 1958 features, "War of the Satellites" and "Machine Gun Kelly", co-starring with Charles Bronson, and 1959's, "The Wasp Woman".



 









Bradford "Brad" Jackson portrayed "Vedric". Except for this picture and and the uncredited role of "Dr. Snell's Assistant" in 1953's, "It Came from Outer Space". Johnson's twenty-four roles between 1953 and 1991, were on television. 



 














Richard Devon portrayed "Stark", a villainous sounding (?) Viking Era name and the "King of the Grimaults". Devon was "Satan" in Corman's 1957, "The Undead", and an alien in 1958's, "War of the Satellites". Just before this picture, Richard Devon was a police lieutenant in 1957's, "Blood of Dracula". 



 













A Very Brief Overview of a Very Brief Screenplay:

This sixty-six-minute search for missing husbands across "The Waters of the Great Sea Serpent" was filmed mostly at Malibu Beach, Bronson Canyon, and the Iverson Movie Ranch.


















"Desir" convinces six other Viking women to go in search of their missing men. They set out in their Viking Short (?) ship and enter "The Waters of the Great Sea Serpent", who promptly destroys it. 






 












The women wash ashore in the mysterious land of the Grimaults and continue their search.



 














They are taken captive by the tyrant "King Stark" of the Grimaults, discover their men are also his captives and being used as slaves in the mines. 

 



 


 






















To keep control of his captives, "Stark" orders the two leaders, the lovers, "Desir" and "Vedric", to be burned at the stake.

 

















The other Viking women escape, free their men, and save their two leaders. The Viking women and their men put to sea, in an even smaller boat, followed by "King Stark", "Enger", and his men.


















Once in "The Waters of the Great Sea Serpent", in another cameo appearance, the sea serpent attacks, but "Vedric" is able to shoot it with his bow. The enraged Sea Serpent forgets its attack on that good Vikings, and attacks "Stark" and the bad Grimaults, killing them all before it dies. The picture ends with the Vikings heading safely for their homeland.

Roger Corman planned a picture with a budget around $3,000,000, but was given a budget of $65,000 by Samuel Z. Arkoff, co-owner of American International Pictures.

As the story goes, Roger Corman had read in the trade papers and local newspapers that Kirk Douglas was making a Viking movie, wanted to make one of his own, and beat Douglas to the theaters, while playing off the other's publicity. 

 

THE VIKINGS premiered in New York City, New York, on June 11, 1958



 

There were three Executive Producers on the production, Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, and Janet Leigh. There was one Associate Producer, Lee Katz, who produced director John Huston's 1956 version of Herman Melville's, "Moby Dick", starring Gregory Peck. There was one actual Producer, Jerry Bressler, 1962's "Diamond Head", starring Charlton Heston and Yvette Mimieux, and 1965's "Major Dundee", starring Charlton Heston and Richard Harris.

The motion picture was Directed by Richard Fleischer, the son of animator Max Fleischer. It had been Walt Disney hiring Richard, to direct Disney's 1954 version of Jules Verne's,"20,000 Leagues Under the Sea", that ended a decades old feud between Walt and Max. My article, "The Walt Disney, Max Fleischer Animation Feud", will be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/04/the-great-walt-disney-max-fleischer.html

Richard Flesicher had just directed Robert Wagner and Terry Moore in 1956's, Second World War movie, "Between Heaven and Hell". He would direct Orson Welles, Dean Stockwell, and Diane Varsi in 1959's, "Compulsion", based upon the best-selling novel, which itself was based upon the real Leopold-Loeb murder case.

The screenplay was based upon the novel "The Viking", by Edison Marshall. Who had two previous novels turned into motion picture screenplays, Tyrone Power's, 1942, "Son of Fury", and Jeff Chandler's, 1954, "Yankee Pasha".

Marshall's novel was adapted for a screenplay by Dale Wasserman. Wasserman wrote scripts for several anthology drama television programs.

The actual screenplay was written by Calder Willingham. He had written the screenplay for Kirk Douglas and Stanley Kubrick's, 1957, "Paths of Glory", and would write the battle sequences for the two men',s 1960, "Spartacus".


The Main Cast:

Kirk Douglas 
portrayed "Einar". Douglas had just been seen in 1957's, "Paths of Glory", and would follow this feature with 1959's, "Last Train from Gun Hill", co-starring with Anthony Quinn.



 

 












Tony Curtis portrayed "Eric". Curtis had just co-starred with Burt Lancaster, in 1957's "Sweet Smell of Success", and would follow this motion picture with 1958's, "Kings Go Forth", co-starring with Frank Sinatra and Natalie Wood. My article, "Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh: Their 5-Motion Pictures Together with Two Interludes", may be enjoyed at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2022/03/tony-curtis-and-janet-leigh-their-5.html


















Ernest Borgnine portrayed "Ragnar". Borgnine had just appeared on the television anthology series, "Schiltz Playhouse", in the February 28, 1958, episode, "Two Lives Have I",  and would follow this feature with 1958's, "The Badlanders" co-starring Alan Ladd.



 








Janet Leigh portrayed "Morgana". Janet Leigh had just co-starred with Charlton Heston and Orson Welles in Welles' classic film-noir crime film, 1958's, "Touch of Evil". She would follow this picture with the 1958 comedy, "The Perfect Furlough", co-starring with her husband, Tony Curtis. My article, "Janet Leigh Going 'Psycho' Within 'The Fog", will frighten by reader at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2019/11/janet-leigh-going-psycho-within-fog.html



 








James Donald portrayed "Egbert". Donald had portrayed "Theo Van Gogh" in Kirk Douglas', 1956, "Lust for Life". Just before this motion picture, he was in director David Lean's, 1957, "The Bridge on the River Kwai", starring Sir Alec Guinness and William Holden, and in 1963, James Donald was part of "The Great Escape".



 

 








Overview of the Screenplay:


The picture is set in mid-eighth-century Europe and opens with a Viking raid on Northumbria. Viking Chieftain "Ragnar" kills "King Edwin" and rapes his wife, "Queen Enid", played by Maxine Audley. 



 

 












Two-months later, "Edwin's" cousin, the cruel, "Aella", played by Frank Thring, ascends the throne and "Queen Enid" reveals to "Father Godwin", played by Alexander Knox, that she is pregnant with "Ragnar's" baby.




 

 
















At the same ceremony to announce that "Aella" is king, "Queen Enid" takes the royal sword, "Requiter", and hands it to "Father Godwin" to present to the new king. As "Father Godwin" presents "Requiter" to "Aella", the pommel stone falls out of it, an omen (?), and is put back in its place.












 

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 



"Queen Enid" now asks the new king for permission to retire to her chambers and later, secretly, delivers a son. 



 







Someone has stolen the pommel stone of the sword "Requiter", and that will remain a mystery for twenty-years. It was placed around the neck of the Queen's baby, that was to be taken to Italy for safety. What is not known to either "Queen Enid", or "Father Godwin", was the ship was attacked by Vikings and never reached that country.

Twenty-years later, in the castle of "King Aella", the Welsh "Princess Morgana" is pledged to him as his future bride. At the ceremony are both "Father Godwin" and the British Lord, "Egbert".


























After that ceremony, "King Aella" accuses "Egbert" as being a traitor to his crown, but does nothing to the powerful Lord. This gives "Lord Egbert" the needed time to contact "Ragnar", who now returns to Northumberland, and takes him onboard his longship. "King Aella's" guess rings true, as "Lord Egbert" is an English spy for the Viking chieftain and has provided much information. "Egbert" is also a cousin of the late "Queen Enid", and is well aware of the story of her illegitimate son and the missing pommel stone.



 


 

 







After his longship docks, "Ragnar" is met by his son "Einar", who meets "Lord Egbert". "Einar" dislikes the idea of his father bringing an Englishman to their fjord, but will not kill him outright. After being told that "Egbert" was the source of "Ragnar's" information on Northumberland and will draw maps of the English shoreline for use on future raids.  

Later, as "Egbert" and "Einar" are out riding, the Viking prince demonstrates his skill with a hawk, but before his hawk can make the kill, a second appears and takes the hawk's target. "Einar" and "Egbert" now come upon two slaves. One illegally has a hunting hawk, that slave is always been a problem for "Einar", and is named "Eric", the other is a mute, "Sandpiper", played by Edric Connor.



 

 












"Eric" dares to speak harshly to "Einar" and brags about his skill in healing an injured hawk and teaching it to hunt. The two get into a heated argument, before "Einar" can take action, "Eric" aims the hawk towards the other and tells it to kill.











"Eric's" hawk attacks "Einar's" face and his eyes.





 








"Einar" has "Eric" taken in chains to his father, but not before "Lord Egbert" sees the pommel of the sword "Reguitar" around "Eric's" neck. The reader of the signs, "Kitala", played by Eileen Way, warns "Ragnar" and the assembled Vikings that any man killing "Eric" will die a horrible death by "Odin's" decree.

 


























Instead, "Ragnar" orders that "Eric" be taken to the tide pool and let the water kill him, but "Kitala" states that "Odin" will still look upon "Ragnar" as ordering "Eric's" death. After "Eric" is removed from the great hall, "Egbert" asks what happens should "Eric" survive, and is told anyone can have him.












"Lord Egbert" goes to the tide pool, sees "Kitala" praying to "Odin", and "Sandpiper" watching the two Viking guards for "Eric", who's tied to a stake in the water. "Egbert" tells "Eric", if he survives, he might tell him the meaning of the pommel stone he has worn since birth. Suddenly, the winds change dramatically and "Kitala" tells everyone that "Odin's" daughters have come to save "Eric" and the water recedes.













The following morning, "Lord Egbert" has "Eric's" steel collar removed much to "Einar's" displeasure.












"Egbert" meets with "Ragnar" and "Einar" and tells them about a way to make a large amount of money. Shortly, the Welsh "Princess Morgana" will leave to become "King Aella's" wife, and she would make a very large ransom, not to overlook revenge for "Lord Egbert".

The attack on "Morgana's" ship takes place and along with her maid "Bridget", played by Dandy Nichols, both are captured by "Einor".




















The two women are placed in a secured covered area on the longship and the Viking's, led by "Einar", show their success by dancing on the oars.

































At the longship's dock, "Morgana" is presented to "Ragnar", who decides that the women will stay on a guarded small ship in the center of the fjord. With the appearance of "Lord Egbert", "Morgana" confirms his status as a traitor.






























That night, a drunken celebration takes place in the great hall with a little target practice at a Viking woman's braids, while "Eric" and "Sandpiper" meet with "Kitala".
























"Kitala" shows "Eric" and "Sandpiper" a metal fish that seems always to point north. Vikings are afraid of sailing without the stars to guide them and have been lost in fog and never seen again. "Eric" asks "Kitala" where are the stars to make the fish look north and she reminds him that they're inside a tent without stars.


























Meanwhile, the drunken "Eniar" has decided that he wants "Morgana", because she is the only woman who has ever refused his advances. Much to "Egbert's" dislike, "Ragnar" tells his son he'll forget the ransom and "Morgana" is his.

"Eniar" now takes a boat out to the ship holding the two women, goes on board, knocks the guard overboard, enters the cabin with the women and makes an advance toward "Morgana". Who admitted earlier to "Bridget" that she is attracted to him somewhat.
























Unexpectedly, "Eric" appears and knocks out the drunken "Eniar", the women get their clothing and join him, "Katala", and "Sandpiper" and head toward the fog in a smaller ship. "Eniar" regains consciousness, realizes what happened, goes to his father, and several Viking longships set sail to capture "Eric" and the women.

Next, the frighten Vikings are ordered into the fog after "Eric", who is using the strange metal fish, and is safely ahead of them.












In the thick fog, two Viking ship collide and some men fall overboard, one of them is picked up by "Eric", and is "Ragnar. To "Einar" and the others, their chieftain is lost and dead. "Ragnar" and "Eric's" group come out of the fog and find a place to land and rest. There, "Morgana" finds another love in "Eric" the escaped Viking slave, and he gives her his pommel necklace as a sign of his love.




 














"Eric" is thanked for saving "Morgana" by "King Aella", who now turns his full attention toward "Ragnar". 

















At the same time, "Morgana" is visited in her chambers by "Father Godwin", who is startled to see the pommel around her neck. After "Morgana" tells him how she came by the necklace from "Eric", "Godwin" reveals the story of his birth. 












To both "Morgana" and "Father Godwin", two facts have been discovered, the first is that "Enior" and "Eric" are half-brothers, and second, technically, "Eric" is the real rulers of Northumberland.

"Ragnar" is brought to a pit containing ravenous, hungry, wolves and is to be thrown into it.












"Ragnar" is not afraid of dying, but makes a request for a sword so he can die fighting like a Viking and enter Valhalla. Without a chance to defend himself, "Ragnar" would never enter the Viking heaven, but "Aella" refuses the request. "Eric" has a sword, cuts "Ragnar's" bonds, and gives it to him, and the Viking jumps into the pit of wolves and his death.



















"Aella" now wants "Eric" put to death, but "Morgana" pleads for his life and the King agrees on one condition. "Eric" is told to put out the hand that gave "Ragnar" the sword and "Aella" cuts it off.














"Eric" now returns to "Eniar", who starts to attack the other, but is stopped and told what happen to his father. When "Eniar" walks into the main hall with "Eric", the other Vikings want him dead, but "Eniar" explains what happened and has "Eric" show them his missing hand.


















Shortly afterwards, the entire Viking force, including "Lord Egbert", sets sail to Northumberland with "Eric" and the metal fish leading them.















The Vikings enter the fog and come out of it within sight of the shores of Northumbria. As they land, word starts to spread that the Vikings have come and entire family's flee to "King Aella's" fortress for perceived safety.















The Vikings breach the fortress and enter killing its defenders.



























Searching for "Morgana", "Eric" finds the frightened "King Aella", and throws him into his pit of hungry wolves. Meanwhile, "Einar" has climbed the outside walls to the tower chapel containing "Morgana" and "Father Godwin".




















"Einar" kills "Father Godwin", "Morgana" reveals that "Eric" is his half-brother, and "Ragnar" was his father. 












The Viking Chieftain still wants to possess "Morgana", but knows "Eric" is his competition and must be killed. "Einar" now seeks out his half-brother for their final confrontation.

















"Eric" sees "Einar" with "Morgana", and the Viking gets the response he seeks, as the two enter combat.






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Below the two fighters, the other Vikings have taken prisoners, and watch the personal fight between the two opponents. "Einar" is able to partly break "Eric's" sword, but when he should make the fatal lunge, he pauses. The confused "Eric" stares at "Einar", as the Viking realizes he is truly fighting his own brother, then, unknowingly, "Eric" lunges and kills his own brother.































Later, now the leader of both the Vikings and Northumberland, "Eric" stands with his future wife, "Morgana", and orders a Viking funeral for his brother "Einar"























Italy and Yugoslavia came together to make a motion picture about Vikings and Tartars.


I TARTARI (THE TARTARS) premiered in Milan, Italy, on April 1, 1961





The dubbed into English version did not come to the United States until June 20, 1962





I admit to have been hooked on these types of movies while in high school, known as "Peplum" in Italy, and "Sword and Sandal" in the United States. These features were basically filmed in Rome by the Italian motion picture industry. However, a few films were American productions made in Italy, such as director Robert Wise's, 1956 version of Greek poet philosopher, Homer's, "The Iliad", under the title of "Helen of Troy".

Also many of the Italian films, like this one, starred American actors such as body builders Steve Reeves, and Gordon Scott, or actor John Barrymore's son, John Drew Barrymore, the father of Drew Barrymore, or British horror actor, Christopher Lee. 

My article, "PEPLUM: A Look at the Sword and Sandal Motion Pictures from the 1950's and 1960's". may be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2021/02/peplum-look-at-sword-and-sandal-motion.html


This motion picture was co-produced by Italy's Lux Productions and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's foreign studio. 

The picture had two directors, one was Italian Ferdinando Balldi, who filmed 1960's "David e Golia (David and Goliath)" and 1961's "Orazi e Curiazi (Horatii and Curiatii)". That came to the United States in August 1964, as "Duel of the Champions", starring Alan Ladd.

The other director, for dubbing and editing the original Italian film, was American Richard Thorpe. His was the only name credited on the English language dub as the director. Among his his films are Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine, and George Sanders, 1952, version of Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe", the Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, and Mel Ferrer, 1953, "Knights of the Round Table", and Elvis Presley's, 1957, "Jailhouse Rock".

In typical Italian Peplum fashion, there were six story and screenplay writers, Domenico Salvati, Sabatino Ciuffini, Oreste Padella, Gaio Frattini, Ambrogio Molteni, and Julian De Kassel.


The Main Cast:

Victor Mature
portrayed "Oleg of Novgorod", aka: "The Prophet". Mature had been in three Hollywood block busters in this style of story, director Cecil B. DeMille's, 1949, "Sampson and Delilah", co-starring Hedy Lamarr, the first CinemaScope motion picture, 1953's, "The Robe", starring Richard Burton and Jean Simons, and its 1954 sequel, "Demetrius and the Gladiators", co-starring with Susan Hayward. In 1959, Victor Mature starred in the Italian Peplum, "Annibale (Hannibal)", which I mention in my article, "Victor Mature: 'One Million B.C.' to 'The Big Circus'---The Leading Man As A Character Actor", found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2020/06/victor-mature-one-million-bc-to-big.html
























Orson Welles
portrayed "Burundai", aka: "Boroldai:". Welles had just been in French director Abel Gance's, 1960, "The Battle of Austerlitz", and followed this picture as "The Narrator" in director Nicholas Ray's, 1961, "King of Kings". My article, "Orson Welles: 1948 Through 1951 ('MacBeth', 'Count Cagliostro', 'Caesar Borgia', 'Bayan of the Hundred Eyes', and 'Othello')", can be enjoyed at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2022/02/orson-welles-1948-through-1951macbeth.html

























Liana Orfei portrayed "Helga". Italian actress Orfei was a regular in Peplum and Italian historical dramas. She had just been seen in, 1960's, "l pirati della costa (Pirates of the Coast)" starring American Lex Barker, and followed this picture with 1961's, "Nefertite regina de Nilo (Nefertite, Queen of the Nile)", starring American's Jeanne Crain, Vincent Price, and Edmund Purdom.


















Overview of the Screenplay:


Both, "Oleg" and "Burundai" were real people. "Oleg", did come from Scandinavia, but was the supreme ruler of Russia from 882 to 912. "Burundai" participated in the Mongol invasion of Russia from 1236 to 1246. In short, they never met in real life, but the Tartars took part in the Mongol invasion and were absorbed into the Mongol Empire.

One other point, the nudity of the original Italian production was removed for the English language United States version.


A narrator starts the motion picture with:
Hundreds of years ago, numerous tribes flocked to the vast Russian steppes. The Vikings came from the North under the leadership of Oleg the Brave. They settled the land along the banks of the Volga. People are open, peaceful and worthy.



















A settlement of Vikings lives in what would become Russia in peace with both the Tartars and the Slavs.




















A Tartar chief, "Togrul", played by Italian actor Folco Lulli, comes to "Oleg" and asks him to join forces on a surprise attack on the Slavs. The attack was ordered by the "Great Kahn" wanting the Slav's exterminated, but "Oleg" refuses. He tells the other that an indestructible bond has been bult between the Slavs and his people, the Varangians.

Note: The real "Oleg" conquered Kiev, in 862, and gained control of the areas north of the Black Sea and what became today's "Ukraine".





















As a result of "Oleg's" refusal, "Togrul" and his Tartars attack the Vikings and he is killed. While, "Togrul's" daughter "Samia", played by Cuban actress Bella Cortez, is taken hostage.



















Note: The Mongol Khan at the time of "Burundai" was "Batu Khan", 1205 to 1255, and founder of "The Golden Horde". "The Great Khan" was "Temujin", known as "Genghis Khan", born in 1162, led from 1197 until his death in 1226. 

"Oleg" now returns to his wife, "Helga", and their son.






























"Ciu Lang", played by Italian actor Arnoldo Foa, reports his brother's death to Tartar chieftain "Burundai".










































"Burundai" wants the Viking settlement burnt to the ground and everyone in it killed, but "Ciu Lang" reminds him that "Samia" is to be his wife of the "Great Khan". Her safety and return must have priority over his revenge. 

A lone Viking longship is spotted, reported, and attacked by the Tartars with "Oleg's" wife and her handmaidens being captured.




























Initially, "Burundai" promises to treat "Oleg's" wife "Helga" with respect, as she will be an exchange for "Samia", but he will torture her handmaidens to find out the strength of the Vikings. However, after seeing "Helga", he rapes her, then gives her to his men for their pleasure, but "Burundsai" still plans on trading "Helga" for "Samia".



















Meanwhile, in the Viking settlement, "Samia" and "Oleg's" brother, "Eric", played by Italian actor Luciano Marin, have fallen in love.












"Oleg" comes to make the exchange with "Samia" and sees his wife on top of the battlements with "Cui Lang". "Helga" seeing her husband, leaps off the battlements, fatally injuring herself from the fall. "Oleg" carries his wife back to the Viking settlement and places her on a bed, they kiss, and she dies.





















"Oleg" now wants to take revenge on "Samia", but "Eric" reveals that she is pregnant by him and the two want to marry. "Oleg" instead, has the two tried by the tribal elders for violating the law. 











"Ciu Lang" counsels "Burundai" to get "Samia" back safely, instead the Tartar kills his counselor, and orders a full-scale attack on the Vikings. 












At the trial of "Eric" and "Samia", the elders split evenly between acquittal and death, leaving the deciding vote to "Oleg". Just as "Oleg" is to give his vote, word is brought that the Tartars are attacking.















"Oleg" tells "Eric" that he has earned a second chance. He's to organize the women and children, so they can flee the settlement into the mountains to the other Vikings located there. Then, "Eric's" to join "Oleg" leading the defense against "Burundai" and his Tartar army.

























The battle against the Tartars is lost and "Oleg" tells "Eric" to take "Samia" and leave. She is placed upon a longship, as "Oleg" and "Burundai" are fighting one on one, but the Tartar breaks free. 


































"Burundai" is able to get on board the long ship and starts to fight "Eric", but "Oleg" appears, throws the Tartar overboard and jumps into the water and drowns him. As "Oleg" is saluting "Eric" and "Samia" and wishing them well, he is struck in the back by a Tartar spear and dies as the settlement burns to the ground.


















Then there was "Temujin"


THE CONQUEROR had its premiere in London, England, on February 2, 1956. For the United States it was Los Angeles, California, on February 22, 1956



















"The Conqueror" was produced by Howard Hughes. His previous motion picture had starred Dale Robinson and Vincent Price in the sexy 1955, "Son of Sinbad", featuring Lili St. Cyr. Hughes would follow this picture with the 1957 release of, "Jet Pilot", starring John Wayne and Janet Leigh. However, that motion picture had been "sitting on the shelf" since 1950 and was laughably outdated by the time Hughes was satisfied with the flying sequences. My article, "HOWARD ROBARD HUGHES, JR.: The Motion Pictures", may be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2018/08/howard-robard-hughes-jr-motion-pictures.html


The motion picture was directed by actor, producer, he co-produced this motion picture, Dick Powell. As an actor, Dick Powell had just appeared nine-times in nine-different 1956 dramas on the television anthology series, "Four Star Playhouse". As a director, he released prior to this picture, 1956's, "You Can't Run Away from It", a musical comedy starring June Allyson, Powell's wife at the time, and Jack Lemmon. As a director, Powell followed this picture with the taut Second World War drama, 1957's, "The Enemy Below", starring Robert Mitchum and Curt Jurgens. As a producer besides this motion picture, Dick Powell produced twenty-eight episodes of "Four Star Playhouse", and followed this picture by producing "The Enemy Below".

Below Dick Powell with his star on location for this picture.


















The screenplay, known as a "Mongolian Western", was written by Oscar Millard. Who had never written a Western, but wrote the excellent character driven Second World War motion picture, 1951's, "The Frogmen", starring Richard Widmark, Dana Andrews and Gary Merrill. Also in 1951 was Millard's, character driven airplane drama, "No Highway in the Sky", starring James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, and Glynis Johns.


The Main Cast:

John Wayne
portrayed "Temujin", a role originally written for Marlon Brando. who backed out before shooting began. Wayne had just been seen in a two-part, 1955, story on televisions "I Love Lucy", entitled, "Lucy Visits Grauman's", and, "Lucy and John Wayne". He followed this motion picture, in comparison, with director John Ford's classic 1956, "The Searchers". "The Conqueror" is part of four roles that John Wayne took in his attempt to break away from his "Cowboy" image. My article on them, "JOHN WAYNE: Four Gutsy Role Choices". can be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2015/04/john-wayne-four-gutsy-role-choices.html














Susan Hayward portrayed "Bortai". Hayward was just in 1955's, "I'll Cry Tomorrow", a performance that won her the Best Actress Academy Award. She would follow this picture with the 1957, comedy, "Top Secret Affair", co-starring Kirk Douglas.














Pedro Armendariz portrayed "Jamuga". The Mexican born actor had just been seen in the historical, 1956, motion picture, "Diane", as "King Francis I", co-starring with Lana Turner, and Roger Moore. The actor followed this feature with the Mexican production, 1956's, "La escondida (The Hidden One)", co-starring with the Great Mexican actress Maria Felix. 














Agnes Moorehead portrayed "Hunlun". One of the founding members of Orson Welles' "Mercury Theatre" and appearing in both Welles', 1941's, "Citizen Kane", and 1942's, "The Magnificent Ambersons". Moorehead was just in 1955's, "The Left Hand of God", starring Humphrey Bogart and Gene Tierney. The actress would next be seen in 1956's, "The Swan", starring Grace Kelly, Sir Alec Guinness, and Louis Jourdan. However, it is as "Endora", on televisions "Bewitched", 1964 through 1972, that most people know her.


















Portraying "Temujin's Brothers" are:

William Conrad
as "Kasar--Khan Loyalist". Radio's "Matt Dillion" on "Gunsmoke", the future television detective, "Cannon", 1971 through 1976, had just appeared on screen in the crime film-noir, 1955's, "5 Against the House", starring Guy Madison, Kim Novak, and Brian Keith. William Conrad would follow this picture with the seldom seen and overlooked, Frank Sinatra Western, 1956's, "Johnny Concho".

















Lee Van Cleef portrayed "Chepei". Van Cleef was just in "The Chris Hall Story", on televisions "The Millionaire", and followed this feature in "Deadline", an episode of the television anthology series, "Studio 57". My article, "LEE VAN CLEEF: A Mixture of "B" and "Spaghetti" Westerns with a Side of Science Fiction and Just a Taste of Drama" will be found at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2021/09/lee-van-cleef-mixture-of-b-and.html





















Three Important Supporting Actors:

Thomas Gomez
portrayed "Wang Khan". American character actor Gomez started on-screen with the Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, 1942, "Sherlock Holmes and the Voice of Terror", but also appeared in films such as the Boris Karloff, and Susanna Foster, 1944, "The Climax", Tyrone Power's, 1947, "The Captain from Castile", 1948's, "Key Largo", starring Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, and Lauren Bacall, and the Errol Flynn and Dean Stockwell, 1950 version of Rudyard Kipling's, "Kim".












John Hoyt portrayed the "Shaman". Hoyt was another of the familiar character actor faces that most people couldn't put a name too. He has been in motion pictures since 1946, but switched to television in 1951. That same year he still appeared on-screen in the Lizabeth Scott's drama, "The Company She Keeps", the Barry Sullivan and Mercedes McCambridge, drama, "Inside Straight", John Drew Barrymore's Historical Adventure, "Quebec", Lew Ayres and Andy Devine's Western, "New Mexico", Cesar Romero's Science Fiction, "The Lost Continent", producer George Pal's classic Science Fiction, "When World's Collide", and James Mason's biography of, "The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel". Not to forget those three television appearances.












Ted de Corsia portrayed "Kumlek". The actor was known for his villain roles in gangster films, but he was also, "Captain Farragut", in Walt Disney's, 1954 "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". At this time, like many actors, he was finding more work in television than motion pictures.














Overview of the Screenplay:

The screenplay does play like a typical "B" Western, substituting "The Tartars" for the evil "Native Americans", and "The Mongol's" for the heroic "United States Cavalry". 

"Temujin", a feared but respected Mongol leader, intercepts a caravan led by his enemy, the Merkit, a Mongol tribe living in Northern Mongolia, Chief "Targutai", played by Leslie Bradley. "Temujin" is accompanied by his "blood-brother", "Jamuga" and questions "Targutai" about his business in "Temujin's" part of the country. The Merkit reveals his bride-to-be, "Bortai", the daughter of a Tartar Chief. After hearing the word "Tartar", "Temujin" makes some insolent remarks and the two-brothers ride away leaving the caravan to pass unmolested.















However, appearances can be misleading and "Temujin" tells "Jamuga" that he desired "Bortai" as his own, but is advised against pursuing such a course by his "blood-brother". 











Ignoring the advice, a raid on the caravan takes place and "Targutai" proves to be a coward, attempts to flee, is captured and brought before "Temujin". Before leaving with "Bortai", "Temujin" tares off her dress and gives it to the Merkit leader as a souvenir.













"Temujin's" mother, "Hunlun", becomes outraged that her son has fallen for the daughter of the Tartar Chieftain, "Kumlek". Who murdered her husband, his father, but "Temujin" is unmoved by this fact.











That night, after "Bortai" ignores his order to dance for his men, "Temujin" drags her to his own tent and repeats his demand, but she refuses and insults him. In a rage, "Temujin" sends "Bortai" to her own tent.



















Later that night, "Bortai" meets secretly with "Jamuga", and she offers herself to him, if he helps her escape. He refuses as "Targutai" and his men enter the camp and violently start destroying and killing everything in sight.












"Temujin" fights and kills "Targutai", then he grabs "Bortai" and takes her to a ravine to hide from the raiders. While, awaiting the Merkit's retreat, "Temujin" forcibly kisses "Bortai", who gives into his passion.

Later, sure that "Kumlek" will seek revenge, "Temujin" tells "Jamuga" of his plan to go to their ally "Wang Khan". He will make him believe that the Tartars, under "Kumlek", plan on attacking his city of Urga.

Note: Urga was one of the two shortened names for the city of Ulaanbaatar, the other was Orgoo. Problem here is that the city was originally founded in 1639, and was the seat of Jebtsundamba Khutuktu, the spiritual head of the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism in Mongolia. 

Taking "Bortai" with him, "Temujin" informs her that she will be sleeping in his tent and giving over her wedding diary of furs to "Wang Khan". Her response is to attempt to stab him over and over, finally frustrated with "Bortai", "Temujin" slaps her across the face. 




















At "Wang Khan's" palace fortress, the Khan and his two guests are entertained by his royal dancers. 













"Temujin" loudly keeps praising the dancers for the purpose of making "Bortai" jealous and it works as he planned, she will finally dance.












Onw of "Bortai's" dances includes using two swords, one of which, after the dance concludes, is thrown at "Temujin" nearly missing him.

 



























"Temujin" sends "Bortai" away to her chambers and confers with "Wang Khan" about the upcoming Tartar attack by "Kumlek". 











After "Temujin" leaves him, "Wang Khan" now consults with his trusted shaman, who "consults with the spirits", and agrees with "Temujin's" plan.













The following day "Wang's" trusted shaman goes to "Temujin" and informs him that the Khan is weak and Urga needs a strong leader like him. However, first things first, and "Temujin" leading "Wang Khan's" warriors, and taking "Bortai", now heads for the Tartar encampment.

Along the way an ambush takes place, wounded by "Kumlek", "Temujin" makes it to safety in a cave, and sees "Bortai" being led away by the Tartars and her father.























After the Tartars have fled the area, "Jamuga", who watched everything, enters the cave and treats "Temujin's"wounds. Next, "Jamuga" enters the Tartar encampment claiming to be a deserter. "Kumlek" believes "Jamuga", but not "Bortai". She has him followed and finds out the location of "Temujin" and sends out a group of Tartars. They capture the Mongol leader, tie him to a heavy ox yoke, and have him pull an ox cart back to the Tartar camp.
















There "Kumlek" orders "Temujin's" slow and torturous death. 




























During the night the bound "Temujin" is able to knock-out his guard and "Bortai" appears and frees him, they embrace, and she admits her love, but stays with her father.

Returning to the Mongol camp, "Temujin" learns that his "blood-brother", "Jamuga", has taken command. "Temujin" accuses the other of betraying him to the Tartars and specifically "Bortai's" father "Kumlek". However, "Jamuga" is able to convince him otherwise and agrees to go with "Kasar" to Urga. 

Once there, "Jamuga" and "Kasar" meet with "Wang Khan" and inform him that "Temujin's" men expect to meet his army on the next full moon. 











However, the shaman tells "Wang Khan" that he believes "Temujin" to be dead and that "Jamuga" is plotting against him. As a result, "Jamuga" and "Kasar" are locked in a room. However, that night, "Kasar" bends the iron bars on the window and permits "Jamuga" to escape. "Kasar" while going through the window is killed, but "Jamuga" escapes, only to be caught by the Tartars and "Kumlek". While, the shaman visits "Temujin" to tell him to take over "Wang Khan's" troops and assures him the gates to Urga will be open for him to storm the city.












"Temujin" and his men enter Urga, and the shaman sneaks into "Wang Khan's" bedroom to stab and kill him. The shaman is unaware that "Temujin" was hiding in the bedroom and saw all of this and he, in turn, kills the shaman. "Temujin" speaks to "Wang Khan's" troops and they join with him to fight the Tartars.



















As "Temujin" leads his combined troops toward the Tartars, "Kumlek" is torturing "Jamuga" to find out if "Temujin" still lives. "Bortai" rescues "Jamuga" and takes him to her tent as the Mongols attack the Tartars.



















"Temujin" kills "Kumlek" during the battle and after it has ended, again believes "Jamuga" has betrayed him. "Bortai" intervenes and convinces "Temujin" of his "blood-brother's" loyalty. However, "Jamuga" knows that the other will never trust him and asks to be executed. His wish is sadly carried out, but before he dies, "Jamuga" bestows the name of "Genghis Khan", or "Perfect Warrior", on "Temujin" and his fame and conquests would grow.



















The Conqueror and Nuclear Fallout:

Any review of "The Conqueror" can not be written without mentioning the nuclear fallout controversy associated with the deaths of the motion picture's cast and crew.

The film's exterior shots were made near St. George, Utah. The city was located 137 miles downwind of the Nevada National Security Site, or the testing area for the 11 nuclear weapons of "Operation Upshot-Knothole" from March 1953 through June 4, 1953. 

It may be hard for any of my readers, who were not born and living in the early 1950's, to understand that the Scientist's responsible for the creation of the Atom Bomb. Even by 1956, three-years after "Operation Upshot-Knothole" concluded, still had no real knowledge of the long term, or for that matter, actual short-term, effects of radiation.

The motion picture makers in my youth were having fun creating their ideas of what exposure to fallout would do. Movies, such as Roger Corman's, 1955, "Day the World Ended", Jack Arnold's1957, "The Incredible Shrinking Man", and Ishiro Honda's, 1958, Bijo to Ekitai-ningen (The Beauty and the Liquid People) aka: "The H-Man", are excellent examples.

However, other science fiction movies did take a more serious look. Gordon Douglas', 1954, "THEM!", is about the possible consequences to the balance of nature. As was Bert I. Gordon's, not as serious, 1957, "Beginning of the End".

The classic, 1954, Japanese anti-Atomic Bomb feature, "Gojira", also from Ishiro Honda, takes an allegorical look at the effects of the Castle-Bravo Atomic Tests on the 27-man crew of "The Lucky Dragon #5" fishing boat, and the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States. In 1956, because of lingering anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States. The story line in "Gojira" would be radically toned-down and released in an American re-edit. The re-edit dropped the original nuclear age warning and with added, or removed footage, turned the story into a typical giant monster on the lose feature, starring Raymond Burr, with the title, "Godzilla, King of the Monsters"

Statistics can be frightening and between the mid 1950's, when this movie was shot, and 1980. St. George, Utah had marked increases, for its population size, of leukemia, lymphoma, thyroid cancer, breast cancer, melanoma, bone cancer, brain tumors, and gastrointestinal tract cancers. Which brings me back to "The Conqueror".

The filmmakers knew about the nearby nuclear testing, as did the residents of St. George, BUT both were assured by the Federal Government that there was nothing to fear from them.

Not only was the cast and crew of "The Conqueror" shooting on location for several weeks, but Howard Hughes had 60 tons of dirt shipped back to RKO. So, that the in studio scenes would match the location shots.

The cast and crew numbered 220 people at the Utah location. Of that number, by the end of 1980, 91 of them had developed some form of cancer, and 48 had died from the disease. 

It has been rightly mentioned, that almost everyone on the shoot smoked, as was the norm in the 1950's. People argue that smoking may have contributed to these deaths and not just the fallout from "Operation Upshot-Knothole", Growing up in that Era, I can attest to the validity of that argument..

However, none of those bringing up the cigarette smoking argument, have ever mention the residents of St. George, Utah, over the same time period, as a comparison model to the cast and crew of "The Conqueror"

Looking at just the film cast and crew, University of Utah Professor of Biology, Dr. Robert Pendleton stated:

With these numbers, this case could qualify as an epidemic. The connection between fallout radiation and cancer in individual cases has been practically impossible to prove conclusively. But in a group this size you'd expect only 30-some cancers to develop. With 91 cancer cases, I think the tie-in to their exposure on the set of The Conqueror would hold up in a court of law.


Here is a link to a  "People" Magazine article, for November 10, 1980, called "The Children of John Wayne, Susan Hayward and Dick Powell Fear the Fallout Killed Their Parents"

http://www.people.com/people/archive/article/0,,20077825,00.html

It should be mentioned, that actor Pedro Armendariz had contracted cancer, but did not die from it. On, June 18, 1963, he committed suicide to stop the pain he was suffering from it.

Another factor NOT TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION in the statistical figures, then and now, were the Native American Paiute Indians that portrayed extras in "The Conqueror". No one ever checked on the rate of cancers of these extras, or for that matter, within their community that was also downwind of the atomic tests.

What actually happened I will leave for my readers to decide in their own minds. WHAT IS FACT, is that after the controversy over the rate of Cancer came out. Howard Hughes went around and purchased every known copy of the film for approximately $12 million dollars. Hughes apparently had regrets, as it was Howard Hughes who had made the decision to film near St. George, Utah. 

The movie's "Cancer" Legend grew, and with the film out of circulation, the Legend of the film also. In 1979 Universal Studios purchased "The Conqueror" from the Howard Hughes Estate and the Mongolian Western was back in circulation.


I now leave the Mongols and the Tartars and return to Vikings and add the Moors.


THE LONG SHIPS premiering in London, England, on March 3, 1964. For the United States it was New York City, New York, on June 24, 1964




This was a United Kingdom and Yugoslavian co-production with an international cast. It was designed to capitalized on the still popular 1958, "The Vikings", and the next motion picture I will mention from 1961.

This was only the eighth motion picture of fifteen that Jack Cardiff directed. That was because Jack Cardiff is one of the great cinematographers. He was nominated three-times for the Academy Award in Cinematography and won for 1947's, "Black Narcissus". His other two nominations were for the epic 1956 version of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace", and 1961's, "Fanny".  As a director he won the Academy Award for the 1960 version of D.H. Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers".

Between 1935, with producer Merian C. Cooper's "The Last Days of Pompeii", through his own appearance about his work on the 2007 television mini-series, "The Other Side of the Screen". Cinematographer Jack Cardiff films total eighty-five, including 1951's, "The African Queen", 1954's, "The Barefoot Contessa", 1956's, "The Brave One", 1958's, "The Vikings", and the 1978 version of Agatha Christie's "Death on the Nile".

The screenplay was based upon the Swedish novel "Röde Orm 
och de långa skeppen (Red Orm and the Long Shipsby Frans G. Bentsson, and written by two writers.

Berkely Mather, was a British television mini-series writer. He also wrote the screenplay for the first "James Bond" motion picture, 1962's, "Dr. No". 

Beverly Cross, was also primarily a television writer in the U.K., but she also wrote the screenplays for stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen's 1963, "Jason and the Argonauts", 1977, "Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger", and 1981's, "Clash of the Titans". Along with the screenplay for 1965's, "Genghis Khan".


The Main Cast:

Richard Widmark
portrayed "Rolfe". Widmark had last been seen in the building of the railroads after the Civil War segment of the epic Cinerama all-star cast , 1962, "How the West was Won". He followed this feature with director John Ford's apology to Native Americans, 1964's, "Cheyenne Autumn".
























Sidney Poitier portrayed "Aly Mansuh". Poitier had just been seen in 1963's,"Lillies of the Field", in his Academy Award winning role. The actor followed this picture with director George Stevens' Biblical epic, 1965's, "The Greatest Story Ever Told".





















Russ Tamblyn portrayed "Orm". The previous year Russ Tamblyn was in director Robert Wise's ghost story, 1963's, "The Haunting". He would follow this feature with the "B" Western, 1965's, "Son of a Gunfighter", co-starring Irish actor, Kieron Moore.






























Above, the girl in the tub is "Gerda", played by Yugoslavian actress Bebe Loncar.


Rosanna Schiaffino portrayed "Aminah". Italian actress Schiaffino had just been seen in director Carl Foreman's Second World War picture, 1963's, "The Victors", starring Vince Edwards, Albert Finney, and George Hamilton. She would follow this picture with the 1964, Italian Second World War drama, "Sette contro la morte (Seven Against Death)", co-starring with American actors John Saxon, and Larry Hagman.





























Oskar Homolka portrayed "Krok". The Austrian-Hungarian actor had been seen on-screen since 1926. At this time he was guest appearing on different television dramatic series and anthologies. Among his work prior to this picture are director Alfred Hitchcock's, 1936, "Sabotage", and co-starring with Clark Gable and Hedy Lamarr in 1940's, "Comrade X", co-starring with Gary Cooper and Barbara Stanwyck in director Howard Hawks', 1941, "Ball of Fire", appearing in 1950's"The White Tower" starring Claude Rains and Glenn Ford, and portraying "Russian Field Marshal Kutuzov", in 1956's, "War and Peace", starring Audrey Hepburn, Henry Fonda, and Mel Ferrer.














Overview of the Screenplay:

Background: To set up this story, the "Moors", were the medieval Muslin inhabitants of "Al-Andalus", the original Muslim ruled area of the Iberian Peninsula. The map below, reflects what was the Muslim area in 739 A.D., today, "Al-Andalus" is Portugal and lower Spain.





The year of this story is sometime after the "First Crusade", 1095 to 1099, and the sacking of Byzantium, modern day Constantinople, for gold and other riches.


Screenplay: There is a legend of a bell, "The Golden Bell of Saint James" aka: the "Mother of Voices", made of solid gold from the sacking of the Turkish capital. The Moorish King "Aly Mansuh" is obsessed by the tale, but there is no proof that the bell even exists. "Mansuh" believes otherwise, and in his obsession has gathered to him all the known information on it. He is putting together a massive Moorish expedition to find the bell and bring it back to his country.

In the bazar outside of "Aly Mansuh's" palace is a shipwrecked Norseman, and this Viking, named "Rolfe", is telling the story of the "Mother of Voices", as if he knows its location to get food. News of the Viking is brought to the King and he orders the Norseman brought to him. "Rolfe" claims to only know the story of the bell and not its actual location. He sticks to the story that the bell is only a myth, but "Mansuh" doesn't believe him and tortures the Norseman for information.























"Rolfe" has been eyeing an open window and in a lull from his torturing, manages to cross the room and jump out of the window into the ocean below. Days later, the adventurer, and the son of Viking shipbuilder "Krok", returns home with his tale of the Moorish King and the "Mother of Voices". Which he admits to having heard the night his ship was wrecked off the African coast and remembers its location.

"Rolfe" now attempts to talk his father into giving him a ship to search for the bell. "Rolfe's" story fascinates his younger brother, "Orm", who is in love with Danish "King Harald Bluetooth's", played by Welsh actor Clifford James, daughter "Gerda". However, "Krok" is now bankrupt from spending all his own money to build a funeral longship for "King Harald", who refused to pay the shipbuilder for his work, claiming "Krok" actually owed him for past debts.

Note: "King Harald Bluetooh" was a real Danish king, but from 958 through 986.

"Rolfe" and "Orm" decide that the ship their father built is not really the king's, as he hasn't died yet. So, they convince a group of drunk Vikings to become their crew, "Orm" kidnaps the girl he loves as a hostage to prevent the King from killing their father, and they all set sail to find the "Mother of All Voices". While, "King Harald" assembles several long ships and goes after the brothers with "Krok" on his ship. 

























Once recovered from their hang-overs, the crew is very superstitious about being on a "Funeral Longship". "Rolfe" asks the ship's captain, "Aziz", portrayed by Lionel Jeffries", what is the best way to sway off bad luck? He's told to sacrifice a maiden, so he kills "Gerda", actually hiding her and using a sheep, but it works with the crew.

The Vikings ship gets caught in a maelstrom, a giant whirlpool at sea, and wrecked along the Moorish coast. The crew makes it ashore, but are attacked and captured by the Moors before they can make repairs. 















































The Norsemen are condemned to death and "Gerda" sent to the harem, but "Aly Mansuh" sees "Rolfe" among the Norsemen, has him pulled out of the group, and demands the location of the bell.







































The Vikings escape and "Orm" and others raid the harem to rescue "Gerda". There is a sword fight between "Aly Mansuh" and "Orm" over "Gerda", but "Orm" loses and like the other Norsemen is recaptured.


 




"Rolfe" still refuses to tell "Mansuh" what he may know and to make him talk, one of his men is taken to ride the iron horse, with its sharp sword edge that can cut a man in two. "Aly Mansuh" stating, if need be, he will, one by one, have all of "Rolfe's" Vikings ride the horse.








































"Aly Mansuh's" favorite wife, "Aminah", suggests that instead of killing all the Norsemen, he should use them and their longship to find the "Mother of Voices".





































The combined Norsemen and the Moors leave on the longship to find the location, near the Pillars of Hercules, flanking the Straight of Gibraltar, that "Rolfe" believes he heard the "Mother of Voices". 

A combined group goes ashore and finds what appears to be a Christian chapel and "Rolfe" and "Aly Mansuh" enter. Hanging inside the chapel is a small bell on a rope, the faces of both dreamers of riches reflects their frustration, taking the bell from its rope. "Rolfe" in disgust, throws it against the wall of the chapel and the "Mother of Voices" answers by almost causing deafness for the two adventurers. The chapel is the bell and it is uncovered, a raft built for it, and the journey back to "Al-Andalus" begins.































When they arrive at the Moorish city, the bell is pulled into what appears to be a deserted city, and from hiding, "King Harald", "Krok", and their men surround the group. The city had been conquered, the Princess rescued, and now the final battle take place. The bell comes lose from its ropes, rolls off the chart carrying it, and onto "Aly Mansuh", killing him. "Aminah" had previously died during the battle. Now "Orm" and 'Gerda" are reunited, the King releases "Krok" from any debts he had and promotes the shipbuilder, "Rolfe" approaches "King Harald" and asks if he's ever heard of the lost, "Three Crowns of the Saxon Kings"?


The following motion picture takes place on the Spanish area of the Iberian Peninsula at about the same time as "The Long Ships", but is based upon a real person.


EL CID released on December 6, 1961 





The motion picture was produced by Samuel Bronston. He had already made 1959's, "John Paul Jones", starring Robert Stack, 1961's, "King of Kings", starring Jeffrey Hunter as what some called a "Teenage Jesus", and would make 1963's, "55 Days at Peking", starring Charlton Heston, Ava Gardner, and David Niven, 1964's, "The Fall of the Roman Empire", starring Sir Alec Guinness, Sophia Loren, Stephen Boyd, and Christopher Plummer, and 1964's, "Circus World", starring John Wayne, Claudia Cardinale, and Rita Hayworth. My article, "SAMUEL BRONSTON Movies Featuring a Cast of Thousands", will be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2016/04/samuel-bronston-movies-featuring-cast.html


The motion picture was directed by Anthony Mann. Among Mann's work, starting in 1939, was a made for television movie that year, yes television, entitled "The Streets of New York", starring Jennifer Jones and British actor George Coulouris. Anthony Mann and James Stewart made a group of classic motion pictures together, 1950's, "Winchester '73", 1952's, "Bend in the River", both 1953's, "The Naked Spur" and "Thunder Bay". The two continued with both 1954's, "The Glenn Miller Story", and "The Far Country", and ended their work together in 1955, with "Strategic Air Command", and "The Man from Laramie".

The screenplay, sort of, was written by three men. The original story and one of the three screenplay writers was Fredric M. Frank. Frank was perfect for this feature as he worked upon director Cecil B. DeMille's 1947, "Unconquered", 1949's, "Samson and Delilah", 1952's, "The Greatest Show on Earth", and 1956's, "The Ten Commandments".

Ben Barzman
was the original screenplay writer, but received no on-screen credit. He was Black Listed by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1949, moved to England, and wrote the screenplay there. His wife, Norma Barzman had been a member of the "Communist Party USA", from 1943 to 1949, and the reason for her husband's Black Listing. The problem here, like with many Americans during the Second World War, was Norma joined the "Communist Party USA", because FDR's government was promoting Russia as our ally and Americans needed to show support.

Philip Jordan was the third writer on the motion picture and also became a front, his name appeared on-screen instead, for Black Listed writers. An example was for Bernard Gordon, who wrote the 1963 screenplay for the British film version of John Wyndham's, "The Day of the Triffids", The United States was the only country Bernard Gordon's name as screenplay writer did not show on the film. Jordan also fronted Gordon for Samuel Bronston's 1964, "Circus World".

Among Philip Jordan's own screenplays are producer George Pal's 1953, "Houdini", 1954's, "The Naked Jungle", and 1955's, "Conquest of Space". He had been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Screenplay on 1951's, "Detective Story", starring Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker.

The Main Cast:

Charlton Heston portrayed "Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar". Heston's last motion picture release was director William Wyler's, 1959, "Ben Hur". He followed this picture with the Second World War comedy, "The Pigeon That Took Rome", co-starring with Italian actress Elsa Martinelli. My article, "CHARLTON HESTON: The Original 'INDIANA JONES", can be debated at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2019/07/charlton-heston-original-indiana-jones.html




















Sophia Loren portrayed "Donna Jimena (Ximena) Diaz", but in this picture she is sometimes called "Chimene". Sophia Loren's last motion picture was Italian director Vittorio De Sica's classic 1960, "La ciociara", known as "Two Women". She followed this picture with the French film, 1961's, "Madame Sans Gene".  My article about the most critical year in her career, "SOPHIA LOREN: '1957", is at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2021/10/sophia-loren-1957.html




































Herbert Lom portrayed "Yusuf ibn Tashfin" aka: "Ben Yussuf". Among the work of the Austria-Hungarian actor are 1955's original, "The Lady Killers", starring Sir Alec Guinness, portraying "Napoleon" in director King Vidor's, 1956 version of author Leo Tolstoy's, "War and Peace", 1960's, "Spartacus", portraying "Captain Nemo" in stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen's, 1961, version of author Jules Verne's "The Mysterious Island", the title role in Hammer Films 1962 version of author Gaston Leroux's "The Phantom of the Opera", and of course, "Chief Inspector Dreyfus", in producer director Blake Edwards' "Pink Panther" series of movies. Mt article, "HERBERT L0M: His Motion Pictures", can be explored at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2018/08/herbert-lom-his-motion-pictures.html

























Douglas Wilmer portrayed "Abu Amir Yusuf al-Mu'taman ibn Hud". Wilmer was appearing on both the BBC and ITV in dramatic mini-series, but made the occasional motion picture. Among his work is portraying "Decimus" in 1964's "Cleopatra" starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Rex Harrison. Wilmer was "Pelias" in stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen's 1963, "Jason and the Argonauts", and "The Vizier", in Harryhausen's, 1973, "The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Douglas Wilmer also appeared in Samuel Bronston's, 1964, "The Fall of the Roman Empire", and as "Khalifa Abdullah" in the Charlton Heston and Sir Laurence Olivier's, 1966, "Khartom".






























Raf Vallone portrayed "Count Garcia Ordonez". The Italian actor had just been seen in 1960's, "Two Women", and would follow this feature co-starring with Maureen Stapleton and Carol Lawrence in director Sidney Lumet's, 1962, version of playwright Arthur Miller's, "A View from the Bridge".






















John Fraser portrayed "Prince Alfonso/King Alfonso VI of Castile". Scottish actor Fraser started his on-screen career in the role of "David Belfour" in the BBC mini-series based upon author Robert Louis Stevenson's, "Kidnapped". Among his motion picture prior to this feature are 1953's, "Titanic", starring Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck, 1955's, "The Dam Busters", starring Sir Richard Todd, and Sir Michael Redgrave, 1960's, "Tunes of Glory", starring Sir Alec Guinness and Sir John Mills, and Walt Disney's, "The Horsemasters", co-starring with Annette Funicello.
























Genevieve Page portrayed "Dona Urraca of Zamora". The French actress started on-screen appearances in 1950 in French films, this was her second English language production. He first had proceeded this picture, 1960's, "Song Without End", starring British actor Dirk Bogarde as composer Franz Liszt. After this picture Page returned to French films.























Gary Raymond portrayed "Prince Sancho/King Sancho II. British actor Raymond's first on-screen appearance was in the BBC 1956 mini-series, "The Black Brigand". He was in the movie that gave Richard Burton international recognition, 1959's, "Look Back in Anger", was in the cast of the 1959 film version of playwright Tennessee Williams' "Suddenly Last Summer", starring Elizabeth Taylor, Katharine Hepburn, Montgomery Clift, in 1963, Gary Raymond portrayed "Acastus", in stop-motion animator Ray Harryhausen's "Jason and the Argonauts". 



























Overview of the Screenplay:

Unlike 1956's, "The Conqueror", and 1962's, "The Tartars", "El Cid" also uses real names, but recreates actual events as close as one can expect in a Hollywood Historical motion picture.

In July, 1074 A.D., Moorish General "Yusuf ibn Tashfin", of the "Almoravid dynasty", a Berber Muslim dynasty centered in what is modern Morocco, has summoned all the Moorish Emirs from "Al-Andalus" to North Africa.




















Note: Compare the following map, dated 1050 A.D.,  with the one for "Al-Andalus" in "The Long Ships". The territory changes from the original Muslin kingdom is obvious as the Spanish Kings were driving the Moors out.


































"Yusuf ibn Tashfin" chastises the emirs for existing peacefully with their Christian neighbors. "Ben Yusuf" tells the assembled Moors that their actions go against his dream of Islamic world domination and declares a Holy War. He orders the emirs to resume hostilities with the Christians as he prepares for a full-scale invasion of Spanish Castile, Leon, and Aragon.

Switch to "Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar" is on his way to his wedding to "Donna Ximena", but encounters two Moorish emirs attacking a Spanish town and defeats them and their men in battle. "Don Rodrigo" escorts the emirs to Vivar and will let the two emirs, "Abu Amir Yusuf al-Mu'taman ibn Hud" of Zaragosa, and "Yahya ibn Ismaíl ibn Yahya al-Qadir bi-L-lah" or "al-Qadir", played by Frank Thring, of Valencia, go, on condition that they never attack Christian lands under "King Ferdinand I" of Castile, played by Ralph Truman. 

The two emir's proclaim "Don Rodrigo" "El Cid (The Lord)" and depart.





















Note: The actual Arabic title of "al-Sayyid", which became the Spanish "El Cid", was given to "Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar" during his exile and Moorish service to both "Abu Amir Yusuf al-Mu'taman ibn Hud", and his son, as the General of the Moorish armies of Zaragosa starting in 1081 A.D.

At the royal court, for "Don Rodrigo's" mercy toward two emirs, "Count Garcia Ordonez", who also loves "Chimene", accuses "Rodrigo" of treason to the crown. "Donna Ximena's" father, "Diego Fernandez de Oviedo" called "Count Gormaz" in the screenplay, I could not find out why, was played by Andrew Cruickshank, and he sides with "Ordonez". "Rodrigo's" aged father, "Diego Lainez", played by Michael Hordern, calls "Ximena's" father a liar and "Gormaz", the "King's Champion", challenges the aged "Diego Lainez" to a duel.







































At a private meeting between "Rodrigo" and "Ximena's" father, he begs the Count to ask forgiveness of his proud father instead of a duel he is bound to lose, but "Gormaz" refuses. Next, "Rodrigo" duels "Gormaz" as "Ximena", out of sight watches, and after "Rodrigo" has made a fatal lunge, joins her father as he dies in her arms.






























"Ximena" now vows to avenge her father and disavows her love for "Rodrigo".

When the King of Aragon demands that King Ferdinand turn over the city of Calahorra (in Aragonese pronounced Calgorra) to him, "Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar" becomes his champion and wins the city in single combat. 















































































The King wants to send "Rodrigo" to collect tribute due him from his Moorish vassals in Castile. "Diaz de Vivar" asks "King Ferdinand" that "Ximena" be given to him as his wife upon his return so he can provide for her, and the King grants the request. Meanwhile, "Ximena" promises "Count Ordonez" that she will marry him, IF he kills "Rodrigo". "Ordonez" and men wait in ambush as "Rodrigo" and his men come along the road, but "Al-Mu'tamin" and his men ambush the ambushers and turns them over to "El Cid". "Rodrigo" forgives "Count Ordonez" and returns to Castile to marry "Ximena".




































The marriage is not consummated, because "Rodrigo" will not touch his wife unless she gives herself out of love and "Ximena" goes to convent.





























"King Ferdinand" dies and the three heirs meet, "Prince Alfonso" tells his older brother, "Prince Sancho", that their father wanted his kingdom split between his three children, Castile to "Sancho", Asturias and Leon to "Alfonso", and Calahorra to "Princess Urraca". However, "Prince Sancho" will not accept anything but the entire Kingdom as is his birth right as the eldest.

There's a knife fight started by "Alfonso", but he can't overpower "Sancho", who sends him to Zamora and prison. "Rodrigo", who promised "King Ferdinand" he'd take care of the three, overpowers the guards on "Alfonso's" prison cell and takes him to his sister in "Carlahorra". "Sancho" arrives and demands "Alfonso" be turned over to him, but "Urraca" refuses and "Don Rodrigo" cannot intervein between the siblings, because he took an oath to "King Ferdinand" to serve them equally. 






























Meanwhile, "Ben Yusuf" arrives in Valencia to speak with his ally the emir "al-Qadir". 





















"Ben Yussuf" hires a warrior formally trusted by "King Ferdinand", "Dolifos", played by Fausto Tozzi, to assassinate "Sancho" and make it appear that "Alfonso" was behind it. The act once accomplished, would make "Alfonso" the sole King of Asturias, Leon, and Castile, and cast suspicion upon the younger brother. 

At "Prince Alonso's" coronation, "Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar" arrives and questions "Alfonso" on the assassination of his brother. "Rodrigo" makes "Alfonso" swear his innocence on a bible in front of the assembled crowd.























 

Although she never told "King Alfonso", his sister "Urraca", was well aware of the plot to assassinate "Sancho" and did nothing to prevent it, because of her hatred of "Sancho". As a result of being forced to swear on a bible, "King Alfonso" banishes "Don Rodrigo" from Spain and he enters exile. There he is joined by "Ximena", who has realized her love for him and in a farmers barn, they consummate their marriage.




















The two decide to leave the war in Spain and go somewhere they can live out their lives together. The following morning, they open the doors of the barn to find "al-Mu'tamin", his loyal Moors, and an army of deserters from "King Alfonso" waiting to follow "El Cid".






























At this point was the "Intermission" in the "Road Show" engagement of the motion picture.

The story has moved unnamed years later and when the audience sees "El Cid", his face is war worn, cut, and he has a heavy beard and meets his twin girls.



























"Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar" is called back into service by "King Alfonso".





















"King Alfonso" wants "El Cid" to protect Castile from "Ben Yusuf's" North African army, but he refuses to ally himself with "Don Rodrigo's" Moorish allies. 



















As a result, "Don Rodrigo" refuses the King and with his joint Spanish and Moor army heads for the Walled City of Valencia and the emir "al-Qadir". "El Cid" makes an initial attack to demonstrate his strength and then places the key city for a sea attack on Spain by "Ben Yusuf" under siege. 






















Months later, the people are starving inside the walled city.

While on, October 23, 1086, "King Alfonso" is defeated by the Moors during the "Battle of Sagrajas". Pushed by his sister over the lack of help by "Don Rodrigo", who is holding Valencia, "King Alfonso" arrests "Ximena" and her daughters and places them in prison. "Count Ordonez" rescues the three and brings them to "Don Rodrigo", ends their personal battles, and joins his army in the defense of Spain.

Next, the gates of Valencia are opened by the starving people, who have killed "al-Qadir", and now offer the crown of Valencia to "El Cid". "Don Rodrigo" refuses it and has it sent to "King Alfonso" to everyone's questioning him why he supports him.

"El Cid" enters the city and prepares his defenses against "Ben Yusuf" and his forces that should be arriving from the sea any day, still believing that "al-Qadir" controls Valencia.
































"Ben Yusuf" arrives with an immense army and now must take Valencia, or lose Spain.




 





































"Count Ordonez" goes out on a reconnaissance mission, is captured, tortured, and killed. "Ben Yusuf" seems stalled as he cannot overrun the defenses of Valencia, but during an intense battle, "El Cid" is struck by an arrow in plain sight of both the attacking Moors and his own army.












































The doctors inform "Rodrigo" that they can probably remove the arrow and save his life, but he will be incapacitated for a long while. As he calls "Ximena" to his side, "King Alfonso" arrives, and asks his forgiveness, finally dismissing the control his sister had over him and realizing, too late, who is truly loyal to Spain and himself. Before "El Cid" dies, he gives his wife specific instructions for tomorrow's coming battle. 

"Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar" will lead his troops against "Yusuf ibn Tashfin" in the morning. Out of the sight of his own men, "Rodrigo's" body is harnessed onto his horse and his flag placed into his hands. His army cheers at his sight, sending concern to "Ben Yusuf" and his Moors. The gates of Valencia are swung open and to the astonished Moors, see "El Cid" lead the attack.


















































The Moorish army runs in fear and "Ben Yusuf", blinded by the sun, is run over by "El Cid's" horse, as "Don Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar" rides into Spanish history.





















"El Cid" is one of four motion pictures from my article, "La historia de España como fue creada por Hollywood: cuatro películas (Spain's History As Created By Hollywood: Four Films)", which can be read at:

http://www.bewaretheblog.com/2018/08/la-historia-de-espana-como-fue-creada.html


I end my article with a Viking motion picture based upon a highly successful comic strip in the Sunday newspapers.

PRINCE VALIANT premiered in Los Angeles, California, on April 2, 1954




























As the above poster indicates, CinemaScope was a bigger draw in 1954 than the cast. The process has only been introduced seven-months earlier by 20th Century Fox in "The Robe" and the other major studios had yet to create their answers to it.

The motion picture was directed by Henry Hathaway. He had just released 1953's, "White Witch Doctor", starring Susan Hayward and Robert Mitchum. Hathaway would follow this picture with the excellent Western, 1954's, "Garden of Evil", starring Gary Cooper, Susan Hayward, and Richard Widmark. The director's John Wayne films are 1941's, "The Shepherd of the Hills", 1957's, "Legend of the Lost", 1960's, "North to Alaska", 1964's, "Circus World", and 1965's, "The Sons of Katie Elder". His other work includes 1935's, "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer", starring Gary Cooper and Franchot Tone, 1940's, "Brigham Young". starring Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, and Dean Jagger, James Cagney's spy thriller, 1946's, "13 Rue Madeleine", and the Tyrone Power and Orson Welles, 1950, "The Black Rose".

As I mentioned, the screenplay was based upon comic strip created by artist and writer, Hal Foster. "Prince Valiant", started appearing on February 13, 1937 in newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst, and with other writers continues as of this writing. Sadly, after hip replacement surgery in November 1979, for the last four-years of his life, 87-years-old Hal Foster had lost his memory and never remembered he created both the comic strip "Prince Valiant", or in 1931, the original comic strip version of Edgar Rice Burrough's, "Tarzan of the Apes".
























The screenplay was by Dudley Nichols. His latest picture was director Howard Hawk's, 1952's, "The Big Sky", starring Kirk Douglas, and he would follow this picture with 1956's, "Run for the Sun", starring Richard Widmark and Trevor Howard.

Writer Nichols started screenplay writing in 1930, his work includes director John Ford's, 1934, "The Lost Patrol", his Academy Award winning screenplay for director John Ford's 1935, "The Informer", director Cecil B. DeMille's, 1935, "The Crusades", director John Ford's, 1936, "Mary of Scotland", starring Katharine Hepburn and Fredric March, director Howard Hawk's, 1938, comedy, "Bringing Up Baby", starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, and again for director John Ford, 1939's, "Stagecoach", starring Claire Trevor and John Wayne.


The Main Cast:

James Mason portrayed "Sir Brack". James Mason had just appeared with his wife, Pamela, in the forgotten 1954, comedy drama, "Charade", and followed this motion picture with one of his most memorable roles, "Captain Nemo", in Walt Disney's, 1954, version of author Jules Verne's, "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". He followed that picture portraying "Norman Maine", in the 1954, second version of "A Star is Born", starring Judy Garland.



















Janet Leigh portrayed "Princess Aleta". She had just co-starred with Donald O'Connor and Buddy Hackett, in the 1953 comedy musical, "Walking My Baby Back Home", and followed this feature with 1954's, "Living It Up", co-starring with the team of Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.



















Robert Wagner portrayed "Prince Valiant". Wagner had just co-starred with Terry Moore and Gilbert Roland in 1953's, "Beneath the 12-Mile Reef", and followed this film with the 1954 Western, "Broken Lance", co-starring Spencer Tracy, Jean Peters, and Richard Widmark.

























Debra Paget portrayed "Ilene". The actress had just co-starred with Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner, and Ruth Hussey 1952's, "The Stars and Stripes Forever", and followed this picture starring in 1954's, "Princess of the Nile", with co-stars Jeffrey Hunter and Michael Rennie.































Sterling Hayden
portrayed "Sir Gwain". Hayden had just been seen in the Second World War feature, 1953's, "Fighter Attack", and followed this feature with director Nicholas Ray's 1954 psychological Western, "Johnny Guitar", co-starring with Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge. Besides the Ray Western, Hayden is known for director John Huston's 1950, robbery gone wrong, "The Asphalt Jungle". He starred as the main character, "Jim Bowie", in Republic Pictures motion picture about the "Alamo", 1955's, "The Last Command". Republic's studio owner, Herbert J. Yates, famously refused to give John Wayne a role in that motion picture. Sterling Hayden also portrayed "Brigadier General Jack D. Ripper", in director Stanley Kubrick's, 1964, "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb". 
























Overview of the Screenplay:


The film opens with a backstory, the Viking kingdom of Scandia is ruled by the kind "Christian King Aguar", played by Donald Crisp, his wife, and son "Prince Valiant". "Aguar" is betrayed by "Sligon", played by professional wrestler Primo Carnera, and the royal family flees to a secluded abbey. Its location known only to the loyal ""Boltar", portrayed by Oscar winner Victor McLagen. "Sligon" now forces the other Vikings to accept him as their king.






















"Bolta" arrives at the abbey to tell the exiles that "King Sligon" is intensifying his efforts to locate them.


















"King Aquar" tells his son to travel to Camelot and "King Arthur", played by Brian Ahern, become a "Knight of the Round Table", and only trust "Sir Gwain". On his journey to Camelot, "Valiant" sees a knight dressed in black armor speaking to a group of Vikings, below the cliff he is standing upon.



 























"Valiant" hears the Viking leader tell the Black Knight that "King Sligon" will send him 1,000 armed men, but just then, "Prince Valiant" loses his footing, and falls down toward the beach. Landing on the beach between both groups, "Valiant" springs into action, steals the Black Knight's squire's horse and is able to ride away. He hears another rider coming, assumes he's with the Black Knight, and knocks the rider off his horse. However, it turns out to be "Sir Gwain" and "Prince Valiant" apologizes.



















"Prince Valiant" tells "Sir Gwain" what he has seen, and "Gwain" takes him directly to Camelot and "King Arthur" to tell him his story, because there are rumors of a treacherous Black Knight throughout Camelot.























However, many of the Knights of the Round Table are skeptical over "Valiant's" story and believe the Black Knight is a phantom tale without substance. On the other hand, "King Arthur" tells "Valiant" he can't just become a Knight, but tells the young Viking he will appoint him a squire and see if he can earn his knighthood. Immediately, "Sir Brack", "Arthur's" illegitimate brother, offers to make him his squire, but "King Arthur" makes "Valiant" "Sir Gwain's" squire. What the young Viking Prince does not know, is the old friendship between "King Arthur" and his father.





















"Sir Gwain" now teaches "Prince Valiant" the joust and use of the sword, and axe.



















"Sir Brack" announces he is going to search for the Black Knight and "Valiant" sneaks away to join him. "Brack" asks "Valiant" to show him where he saw the Black Knight and the Vikings. Ignoring his father's warning not to tell anyone their location, "Brack" is able to deduce where "Valiant" came from before he fell off the cliff.




















"Brack" now tells "Prince Valiant" to wait while he investigates further afield, leaves, and Viking archers shoot the young Prince in the back. However, "Valiant" is able to escape on his horse, but eventually falls off it, crawls to a lake, where sisters "Aleta" and "Ilene" are bathing. The sisters take "Prince Valiant" to their home for care, they are the daughters of "King Luke of Ord", portrayed by Barry Jones.





















"Aleta's" father wants her to marry "Sir Brack", and is disgusted with the amount of time she is spending with the Viking Prince. "Sir Brack" arrives after "Valiant" is able to travel, saying he has been searching for him.

























The problem for "King Luke" is by the time "Sir Brack" has arrived, his daughter has fallen in love with the young squire. "Aleta" comes up with the idea of her family escorting "Sir Brack" and "Prince Valiant" back to Camelot to attend the yearly tournament.

Upon everyone's arrival in Camelot, "Prince Valiant" learns the while searching for him, "Sir Gwain" was seriously injured by the same Viking archers. He pleads forgiveness for his desertion and while "Sir Gwain" forgives him for leaving to go with "Sir Brack", he will not believe that "Brack" is the "Black Knight".

Now we have a typical Hollywood lovers mix-up.

"Sir Gwain" believes "Ilene", who loves him, is really the sweetheart of "Valiant" and he falls for "Aleta". "Valiant" has learned that "Sir Gwain" is more seriously injured than he lets on and doesn't have the heart to tell his hero the truth about his own love "Aleta". Who now believes "Valiant" doesn't love her, and confronts him on the day of the tournament. When "Valiant" doesn't explain why he is ignoring her, she tares off the crucifix he gave her and joins her father to watch the tournament.



















To his daughter's surprise, "King Luke" announces he will give "Aleta's" hand in marriage to the winner of the tournament. She looks on in horror as "Sir Brack" easily wins his jousts and her future is to be married to the man she doesn't love.


















Then, "Sir Gwain" appears, but "Sir Brack" unseats the other and when his helmet it removed, it is "Prince Valiant", now a disgraced squire and hurried off the field of honor. However, another challenger appears and succeeds in beating "Sir Brack" and falls off his horse to be revealed as the injured "Sir Gwain". 



















Back in his tent, "Sir Brack" receives word that both "King Aguar" and his Queen have been captured. "Brack" is also presented the ring that was to be sent to "Prince Valiant", if his parents needed him.

"Prince Valiant" is brought before "King Arthur" on charges of impersonating a knight. "Sir Brack" arranges to have him confined to quarters until "Sir Gwain" recovers. "Valiant" pledges not to leave, but when "Brack" tosses the ring into the room, "Prince Valiant" must leave. "Aleta" sees "Valiant" preparing his horse and begs him not to break his vow to "King Arthur", but he must leave and she pledges her undying love.

On his journey home, "Valiant" is attacked and captured by the Black Knight, his men, and his Viking cohorts. "Prince Valiant" is not surprised when the Black Knight reveals himself as "Sir Brack".
























"Valiant" is infuriated that his parents were captured and turned over to "Sligon" by "Sir Brack" and his men. His fury grows when he learns that "Sir Brack's" plan is to overturn "King Arthur" and take the throne, because of his unknown relationship to the current King.

"Aleta" had followed "Valiant" and is captured and with "Valiant", the two are taken to Scandia and the court of "King Sligon". 



















"Prince Valiant" refuses to reveal the name of the other Christian Viking Kings, and with "Aleta", are taken to the dungeon.

Meanwhile, back in Camelot, "Ilene" goes to the injured "Sir Gwain", her love.



















In Scandia, "Boltar" meets with the loyal Christian Viking leaders, and urges them to take action even though they're outnumbered. "Boltar" plans to kill "Sligon" and then signal them to storm the castle, but by the time he reaches the castle, "Prince Valiant" has escaped. 























 
"Valiant" is using a torch to see and the Viking leaders mistake it for "Boltar's" signal to attack and a battle ensues. "Valiant" is able to confront and kill "Sligon" and the others win the battle, freeing their King, Queen and "Aleta".

Sometime later, "Prince Valiant" returns to Camelot with "Aleta". He confronts "Sir Brack" and calls him out as the Black Knight.











































"Sir Brack" demands a trial by combat and "Sir Gwain" offers to fight "Brack" for "Valiant" but the young Viking Prince demands to fight the traitor himself and "Sir Brack" accepts. "Prince Valiant" is armed with the legendary Viking "Singing Sword" his father gave him. The two combatants fight a long fight and in the end "Prince Valiant" kills "Sir Brack".






























Next, "Prince Valiant" returns "Aleta" to "Sir Gwain", who explains that "Ilene" has explained everything and the two are in love. In the end, "Prince Valiant" gets his true love and "King Arthur" Knight's him.


Like I said at the start of this article, these seven motion pictures are a means to escape the real world for a couple of hours and let your imagination take sway.

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