Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
USA, 1967. Warner Brothers/Seven Arts. Screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner, based on his play, from the book The Once And Future King by T.H. White. Cinematography by Richard H. Kline. Produced by Jack L. Warner. Music by Frederick Loewe, Alfred Newman. Production Design by John Truscott. Costume Design by John Truscott. Film Editing by Folmar Blangsted.
Following the success of My Fair Lady, Jack L. Warner put his studio right to work on filming Lerner and Loewe’s next Broadway musical hit, based on The Once and Future King by T.E. White. The results were not nearly as successful as the former production, a lumbering musical with too much whimsy to be taken seriously and too much drama to be enjoyable, though the cast does help a bit. Richard Harris is wonderfully lively in the role of King Arthur, who begins the film by welcoming his new bride Guenevere (Vanessa Redgrave) to his court. She, in turn, grows to love him but finds the heat of passion with his fiercest knight Lancelot (Franco Nero, with whom Redgrave began a romance that has lasted until this day). Redgrave is wonderful in the role, though her singing is more the performance of an actress than a singer and at times forces you to concentrate and forgive a lot. If curiousity draws you to this film, or if you think you’ll love the opulent sets and costumes, than go ahead and be my guest, but anyone else need be warned that the running time strains your patience on more than one occasion. The score is mostly intact, and for the most part the songs all sound the same. Highlights include “If Ever I Would Leave You”, “I Loved You Once In Silence”, Harris’ rousing rendition of “Camelot” and Redgrave’s finest moment singing “Then You May Take Me To Fair”.
Academy Awards: Best Art Direction; Best Costume Design; Best Scoring of Music-Adaptation or Treatment
Nominations: Best Cinematography; Best Sound
Golden Globe Awards: Best Actor-Musical/Comedy (Richard Harris); Best Music Score; Best Song (“If Ever I Would Leave You”)
Nominations: Best Picture-Musical/Comedy; Best Actress-Musical/Comedy (Vanessa Redgrave)