Movie Review: Knights of the Round Table (1953)

Synopsis: French knight Sir Lancelot befriends Arthur Pendragon and helps him become king of England. When Arthur marries the beautiful Guinevere, he names Lancelot her champion. However, when romantic feelings develop between Lancelot and the queen, Arthur's enemies seek to use that to their advantage.

Who's in it? The movie stars Robert Taylor, Ava Gardner, Mel Ferrer, Anne Crawford and Stanley Baker.

Review: This is a movie I was familiar with but had never taken the time to watch, despite being a fan of both the King Arthur legend and Ava Gardner. However, I had some free time the past couple of mornings and was finally able to see the movie in its entirety as a result. Overall, I thought it was an enjoyable film.

I think the thing I found I liked the most about this movie was the way Lancelot's (Taylor) love story with Guinevere (Gardner) was presented. Unlike some other films that have touched on this legendary story, there was nothing overly torrid about their relationship and, instead, the movie presented it more as an unrequited romance between two people who cared about their King more.

I especially found Lancelot's eventual marriage to Elaine (Maureen Swanson) intriguing. I think he had true feelings for her but, at the same time, I think even she knew she was his second choice. It made me wonder just how that made her feel - was she happy she was with the man she loved, or did she feel like she was just his second-place prize?

Another aspect of the movie I found interesting was the cat-and-mouse game between Merlin (Felix Aylmer) and Morgan Le Fay (Crawford) when it came to the couples' secret. While I'm still unclear why he wouldn't just let Guinevere tell Arthur (Ferrer) the truth rather than risk things coming out in a more dramatic fashion, it was still almost as interesting as some of the battlefield scenes.

On the negative side of things, the movie did seem to have quite a bit of filler, especially that long celebration toward the end and pretty much anything doing with Sir Percival's (Gabriel Woolf) quest for the Holy Grail (which was mostly just him talking about it). It wasn't anything that made the movie worse but also wasn't anything that added any additional value, just lengthened the film by 30 or so minutes.

Also, while I like Crawford and thought she did a great job in the film, I do kind of wish they would have cast someone else in the Morgan Le Fay role. This is mostly because Crawford, who was in her early thirties when this movie was made, just wasn't believable as the mother of a fully-grown Mordred (Baker). In fact, when they were first introduced, I thought maybe the movie was going to make him her husband instead.

Final Opinion: There were a couple unimportant parts I considered fast forwarding through but, overall, I thought this was a decent and entertaining movie and is one I would recommend taking the time to watch.

My Grade: A-


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