Prince Valiant

Henry Hathaway

T. It.: Il Principe Coraggioso. Sog.: Dal Fumetto Di Harold Foster; Scen.: Dudley Nichols; F.: Lucien Ballard; Mo.: Robert Simpson; Scgf.: Lyle Wheeler, Mark-Leekirk; Co.: Charles Lemaire; Mu.: Franz Waxman; Int.: Robert Wagner (Principe Valiant), James Mason (Sir Brack), Janet Leigh (Aleta), Debra Paget (Ilene), Sterling Hayden (Sir Gawain), Victor Mclaglen (Boltar), Donald Crisp (Re Aguar), Brian Aherne (Re Artù), Barry Jones (Re Luke), Mary Philips (Regina Madre), Primo Carnera (Sligon); Prod.: Robert L. Jacks Per 20th Century-Fox; Pri. Pro.: Los Angeles, 31 Marzo 1954 35mm. D: 100’. Col (Technicolor).

T. it.: Italian title. T. int.: International title. T. alt.: Alternative title. Sog.: Story. Scen.: Screenplay. F.: Cinematography. M.: Editing. Scgf.: Set Design. Mus.: Music. Int.: Cast. Prod.: Production Company. L.: Length. D.: Running Time. f/s: Frames per second. Bn.: Black e White. Col.: Color. Da: Print source

Film Notes

The general adoption of CinemaScope revived the fashion for spectacular subjects and in particular costume pictures which entailed design and considerable visual ambition, such as “authentic” locations in places far from the studio. The Mediaeval underwent a true renaissance (no joke implied in the use of the word) on the screen: after the success of its Ivanhoe in 1952, MGM moved on to CinemaScope with The Knights of the Round Table (Richard Thorpe) in December 1953, followed by 20th Century-Fox, with Prince Valiant in April 1954, Warner Brothers with King Richard and the Crusaders (David Butler) in July, and finally Universal International with The Black Shield of Falworth (Rudy Maté) in August. Fox based its choice on the cartoons of Hal Foster, which appeared between 1937 and 1979 in “The New York Journal”, and which MGM had previously abandoned for the lack of a suitable script. Following the adventures of a young Viking prince at Camelot, Hathaway brilliantly exploited the multi-coloured world of King Arthur (always in costumes and armour of the thirteenth century, some seven hundred years after the supposed events of the legend). The film was shot in Century City, Westwood, for the interiors, and then in various castles in Great Britain, in Scotland and in Wales, superbly photographed in colour by Lucien Ballard. The film would remain for decades one of the most accurate cinematographic records of a comic strip, conceived by Dudley Nichols, John Ford’s favourite writer. Conscious of the immense popularity of the original graphic work, Hathaway strove to achieve a minute resemblance between the actors and Foster’s characters, and to adapt to the screen, with similar design and framing, episodes of the comic strip (Foster initially collaborated on the script, but fell out with Hathaway when his suggestions were rejected). The same subject was adapted for a series of animation films for television, The Legend of Prince Valiant, in 1991, and for a mediocre remake directed by Anthony Hickox in 1997.

Hervé Dumont, Encyclopédie du film historique, Tome II: Moyen Age 

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