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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

An Evening Of Classics...Prince Valiant

I have a confession to make: I have had this DVD for ages and only just got around to watching it. The last time I saw it was on late-night TV. 

It has quite a cast: Robert Wagner(best known for some later TV shows), Janet Leigh(who had a tendency to play golden-haired medieval heroines), Debra Paget(who went on to play Hebrew maiden Lilia in The Ten Commandments a couple of years later and got to play a Native American girl in Broken Arrow), with Sterling Hayden as Sir Gawain and a smoothly evil James Mason, who played a lot more villains than good guys. The music is by Franz Waxman and very familiar - I'm sure I've heard it recently. 

I can't resist having a giggle, though. The story is set during the reign of an elderly King Arthur, but the castles are Norman and the women's costumes are more Hollywood glamour than mediaeval. Most of the actors are American, and, Viking or Briton, the characters speak American English, something that was common in films made at this time. James Mason spoke with his own accent, of course, but he was the villain. Villains in those days did tend to be British.

The tournament was fifteenth century, but the knights jousted without much armour and Val, knocked off his horse, staggered to his feet, not much hurt. Actually, not hurt at all. 

And those Vikings! The evil ones go mostly bare-chested, the good ones(Valiant's people) cover up a bit more, but both varieties wear those horned helmets we used to believe Viking warriors wore before later discoveries were made. 

I'm watching a late scene now. Val is fighting the evil Sir Brack with his father's singing sword, and, by gum, the sword is singing a Franz Waxman tune! 

One more thing: the name of the fictional Norse kingdom from which Val comes is Skandia. I wouldn't be surprised to find this is where John Flanagan got his own Skandia, the Norse equivalent in the world of The Ranger's Apprentice. 

Why not? Flanagan's England equivalent has the name of a town in New South Wales! 

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