Knights of the Round Table
Richard Thorpe 2003 Amazon
This 1953 follow-up to the successful teaming of actor Robert Taylor and director Richard Thorpe on Ivanhoe isn't quite as good a film, but it is a sumptuous adventure-romance shot on location in England. MGM's first widescreen production finds Taylor playing Sir Lancelot to Mel Ferrer's King Arthur. Based in part on Thomas Malory's 14th-century version of the Camelot legend, Knights of the Round Table tells the familiar tale of Arthur's construction of a Utopian kingdom, where virtue, courage, and a sense of possibility rule the hearts of strong men. Lancelot is there every step of the way, but after Arthur marries a particularly bodacious Guinevere (Ava Gardner), Lancelot can't stifle his love for her, nor can she stifle her own for him. That chink in the wall of the Camelot dream is exploited by detractors Morgan le Fay (Anne Crawford) and Mordred (Stanley Baker), who set up the lovers for their downfall. The script by Talbot Jennings is proficient at capturing the outsized passions of Malory's epic, which may be one reason why Ivanhoe, with a bit more understatedness, is the better of the two adaptations. True-blue Arthurians, however, will want to see this for its visual sweep and loyalty to the source. --Tom Keogh Tags