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Iíve always found KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE ($20) to be a rather fun old style Hollywood telling of the legend of King Arthur and Camelot. Sure, the movie was made in England, but there is no mistaking that Hollywood gloss and star power. As a sidebar for movie trivia buffs, it should be noted that KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE has the distinction of being MGMís first movie made in CinemaScope. And while the compositions are a bit static in places, KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE benefits from the pageantry of the widescreen process, which was melded with the rich veneer of IB Technicolor printing. Finally, it is doubtful that anyone during the Middle Ages ever looked as good as stars Ava Gardner and Robert Taylor, nor were they dressed as spectacularly, but up on the big screen this duo were pure cinematic perfection.

Adapted from Sir Thomas MaloryĎs Le Morte d'Arthur, KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE tells how Arthur Pendragon (Mel Ferrer) unifies all the Britons under a single crown. Under his rule, King Arthur ushers in an age of chivalry, with an absolute rule of law. However, Arthurís half sister Morgan Le Fay (Anne Crawford) and her Lord Modred (Stanley Baker) seek to usurp Arthurís throne and throw Britain back into the chaos of petty kingdoms, where might did make right. With Sir Lancelot (Robert Taylor) at his side, King Arthurís position on the thrown remains absolute, that is, unless a way can be found to drive a wedge between Arthur and Lancelot. Eventually, Moran and Modred think they see an exploitable weakness in the form of Arthurís beautiful queen Guinevere (Ava Gardner), who summons far too much obvious devotion from her appointed champion- Sir Lancelot. The cast of KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE also features Felix Aylmer, Maureen Swanson, Gabriel Woolf, Anthony Forwood, Robert Urquhart and Niall MacGinnis.

Warner Home Video has made KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE available on DVD in a very fine looking 2.55:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. The image appears pretty sharp and nicely defined, although there is a bit of softness in shots with optical processing. Colors appear well saturated and give a nice impression what an original IB Technicolor print might have looked like. Reds have come very close to producing that nice Technicolor hue, while greens, yellows and blues also appear lush. Despite the intensity of some of the colors, neither chroma noise nor smearing is apparent. Blacks are pretty accurate and whites appear clean. The film element used for the transfer does display some blemishes, but is in rather good shape for a movie that is half a century old. A grain structure is occasionally noticeable in the picture, but is never excessive or distracting. Digital compression artifacts never became readily apparent.

KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE features a Dolby Digital 2.0 channel soundtrack that decodes to standard surround. Most signs of age have been digitally removed from the track, leaving a clean, crisp sound quality. Music is the strongest component in the filmís stereo surround mix, being nicely imaged in the outlying channels. While the fidelity of the music isnít up to modern standards, Miklůs Růzsaís engaging score sounds quite good with a bit of amplification. Dialogue is cleanly rendered and always completely understandable. No other language tracks have been encoded onto the DVD, although English, French and Spanish subtitles are included.

Music underscores the basic interactive menus, which feature access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few nice extras. Actor Mel Ferrer offers a brief video introduction to the film, while other extras include newsreel footage of the movieís premiere, a CinemaScope short featuring the MGM Orchestra performing the Overture To The Merry Wives Of Windsor. A theatrical trailer, bonus trailers for CAMELOT and EXCALIBUR, a King Arthur movie essay and cast & crew listing close out the extras.

KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE is an enjoyable film version the legend of King Arthur- and one that features all of the old style Hollywood trimmings. Warner has done a fine job with the DVD, offering a handsome presentation that will more than please movie buffs.


Knights of the Round Table (1954)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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