Pomp & Ceremony
Unless you trust my opinion through reading and agreeing with my other movie reviews I suggest you watch "Knights of the Round Table" for yourself. I say this because there is a diverse opinion about this 1950's historical epic where one reviewer will say an actor is dull yet read another movie review and they are terrific, some will love the pomp and ceremony whilst in other reviews you will find it being tedious and dull. As to my opinion of "Knights of the Round Table" it is a movie ruined by pomp and ceremony and actors who struggle to bring to life the Shakespearean style dialogue. It still looks great and features some solid acting but far too much of it is dry and dull.
Now most people have heard of the legend of King Arthur and his knights of the round table but I wonder how many actually know the full story. Well "Knights of the Round Table" gives us a full story based on "Le Morte D'Arthur" by Thomas Malory although I have heard that the adaptation is not an authentic adaptation of his book. It takes us from the initial conflict over the next King as Arthur and his half-sister Morgan LeFay meet with Merlin over who should be the next ruler through to Modred's betrayal, Arthur's death and so on. The focus of this not so much being the duplicitous actions of Modred and Morgan Le Fay but the love triangle between Arthur, Lancelot and Guinevere.
Now the first thing to say is that "Knights of the Round Table" is a beautiful looking movie with it being MGM's first movie shot in CinemaScope. You can tell a lot of thought has been taken as to how to make the best use of CinemaScope and even now it looks good with colourful costumes. Okay so technically the costumes are not authentic for the time the movie is set but it is how people imagine it to look and makes it eye catching. So do the wonderful sets and locations which beautifully fill the screen and provide a wonderful backdrop to the solid action.
But whilst visually "Knights of the Round Table" is impressive it is also surprisingly dull. The trouble comes from the screen writers filling it with too much pomp and ceremony which not only distracts from the storyline but also causes it to run to nearly two hours. Maybe the desire was to make this adaptation and epic but it only ends up epically dull, that is until the story takes focus during the final quarter as everything comes to ahead. It also doesn't help that the dialogue in also trying to sound epic takes on a Shakespearean tone which ends up being monotonous.
That dialogue causes issues for some of the actors none more so than Mel Ferrer who for the most sounds stilted as Arthur, which is the same with Anne Crawford as Morgan Le Fay. There are some good performances with both Robert Taylor as Lancelot and Stanley Baker as Modred bringing their characters to life and making the archaic dialogue sound half decent. In fact without Robert Taylor and Stanley Baker "Knights of the Round Table" would have been almost unbearable in its dullness. But there is of course Ava Gardner as Guinevere and there is no doubt that under the layers of satin and crinoline Gardner makes for a very beautiful Guinevere but she doesn't sizzle like the character should.
What this all boils down to is that sadly "Knights of the Round Table" didn't do it for me and ends up a dull movie in its attempt to sound authentic. It still looks beautiful and what action there is is entertaining but there is a lot of dry scenes to get through in order to find entertainment.