By Richard Winters
My Rating: 7 out of 10
4-Word Review: Knight wants a woman.
Medieval tale set in the 11th century dealing with a Norman Knight named Chrysagon (Charlton Heston) who with his group of men take over a Druid’s Village and make it ready for the Duke who will then eventually rule it. During his time there Chrysagon meets the beautiful Bronwyn (Rosemary Forsyth) and becomes smitten. The problem is that Bronwyn has already been prearranged by her father (Niall MacGinnis) to marry Marc (James Farentino) yet Chrysagon imposes a little known right, which allows the Lord of a Domain to sleep with a virgin woman on her wedding night, but only if he agrees to return her back to her suitor by dawn. Her father complies, but then Chrysagon refuses to give her up once the night is over, which causes great outrage with the village as well as Chrysagon’s own men particularly his brother Draco (Guy Stockwell) who begins to challenge Chysagon’s authority.
The film paints a realistic portrait of medieval times by exposing the rigid social caste system that people were forced to live by with almost no ability for individual choice. The plot is compelling, but what I really enjoyed were the fighting sequences that take up almost the entire second hour and are filled with ingenious maneuvers and creative attempts by each side to try and take advantage of the other without having the benefit of guns or any other form of ammunition.
Outside of Heston who is stiff as always the acting is uniformly strong. Stockwell who was the older brother of Dean lends a good menacing touch particularly with the way he starts out as loyal only to have his darker side slowly seep through. Richard Boone, best known for his starring role in the ‘50’s western ‘Have Gun-Will Travel’ is solid as Heston’s second-in-command and who remains amazingly stoic and sensible throughout. Forsyth is quite alluring as the love interest and Maurice Evans is also good as a meek and ineffectual Priest.
Director Franklin J. Shaffner, Heston, Evans and character actor Woodrow Parfrey all reteamed three years later to star in the much better known Planet of the Apes and while that film has gone on to become an influential classic this one has remained in relative obscurity, which is unfortunate as its production values are equally high, the story just as interesting and action sequence just as exciting making it yet another lost classic awaiting discovery by a new generation of fans.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Released: November 17, 1965
Runtime: 2Hours 3Minutes
Director: Franklin J. Shaffner
Available: VHS, DVD, Blu-ray (Region B)