Siege of the Saxons (1963) starring Janette Scott, Ronald Lewis, Ronald Howard, John Laurie, Mark Dignam, Jerome Willis, Francis De Wolff directed by Nathan Juran Movie Review

Siege of the Saxons (1963)   2/52/52/52/52/5

Ronald Lewis as Robert in Siege of the Saxons (1963)

A Saxon Swashbuckler

"Siege of the Saxons" is a 60s swashbuckler which takes Arthur, Merlin, Camelot and Excalibur as its base and builds a story around it with Saxons threatening to take power and a Robin Hood style character helping to save Arthur's daughter and the throne. If that sounds a bit corny and cliche it is and compared to other swashbucklers "Siege of the Saxons" struggles even to be average with nothing special about it at all. But then for fans of these old fashioned swashbucklers even though it isn't in the least bit remarkable is still entertaining.

After a chance encounter with woodland thief Robert (Ronald Lewis - Conspiracy of Hearts) King Arthur (Mark Dignam) learns that one of his Knights, Edmund (Ronald Howard) is in cahoots with the Saxons to kill him and his daughter Katherine (Janette Scott - School for Scoundrels) in order to seize power. But when Arthur is killed it is up to Robert to lead Katherine to safety and find Merlin (John Laurie) in order to save the throne and prevent Edmund and the Saxons from taking power.

John Laurie and Janette Scott in Siege of the Saxons (1963)

So the good thing is that "Siege of the Saxons" is not just a retelling of the legend of King Arthur but instead uses the familiar Arthur, Merlin, Camelot and Excalibur as the basis of a new story. The bad news is that the new story isn't that original because many of these medieval swashbucklers feature a power struggle, a damsel in distress and a peasant who comes to the rescue and that is what we have here. There is the attempt to make the peasant Robert a bit of a Robin Hood character as he robs from the rich but playfully doesn't give to the poor because it wouldn't be enough money to help but it doesn't add a huge variation on a familiar series of cliches.

But whilst no great shakes this storyline plays out nicely with a mix of romance, comedy and of course swashbuckling action. Again it is all very stereotypical from the initial antagonism between Richard and Katherine to the various big battles which I am sure included some stock footage from other medieval swashbucklers. But in a way the big let down is the action and rather than being a swashbuckler which sees epic swordfights with men skipping over tables and up stairs it is all rather plain. If it wasn't for the fact it is all so very safe I would say it has a more thuggish style about the action as men battle with grunts rather than panache.

Other than that we have the casting and whist Ronald Lewis tries to act playful as Robert, smiling in pretty much every scene whilst winding Katherine up it never truly sparks into life. There is certainly little chemistry between Lewis and Janette Scott who whilst adorns the movie with the required element of beauty has a very ordinary character to play.

What this all boils down to is that "Siege of the Saxons" is an uninspired medieval swashbuckler which never delivers anything new or memorable. But for fans of these old swashbucklers it provides a reasonable distraction if nothing else.