Luxe MGM historical ransacking, locationed to the nines, beautiful to look upon, but with energy lapses in the soggy script of Sir Walter Scott's epic classic. It is 1190 and Robert Taylor, as the brave Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe, returns secretly to England from the Crusades. He has served
England's King Richard the Lionhearted well in the Third Crusade, but the king has been captured and is held for ransom in Austria. It's Taylor's job to raise an enormous sum to free Richard (Wooland). Taylor is a Saxon knight, son of lord Currie, who more or less disowned his son when he went to
fight for Richard, a Norman king.
Taylor encounters three Norman knights, Sanders, Douglas and de Wolff, who are in league with Prince John (Rolfe), who intends to usurp his missing brother, Richard. Taylor tells the knights that Currie's castle is nearby should they wish to seek shelter for the night, and he escorts them to his
father's estate. Watching this encounter is Warrender (Robin Hood), and his men who were about to kill the hated Norman knights. But, seeing Taylor with the Normans, Warrender holds his men back, telling them he will wait to see what Taylor is up to.
The Norman knights are given a cool reception by Currie, but they are nevertheless extended the hospitality of the day. At dinner, these knights meet Currie's ward, the beautiful Fontaine, whom Douglas immediately covets. Sitting at the end of the table is Taylor, Fontaine's true love, who is
recognized by his father when he toasts King Richard, but Currie refuses immediately to talk to his errant son. He later communicates with Taylor through his servant-fool, Williams.
After Taylor leaves the castle with Williams as his newly appointed squire, he rescues a rich Jew, Aylmer, from the anti-Semitic Normans and is later given jewels by Aylmer's grateful daughter, Elizabeth Taylor, so he can buy horse and armor to enter the jousting tournament at Ashby and win more
money to ransom Richard.
The film is certainly rousing, with a particularly grisly bout between Taylor and Sanders and the Taylor-Fontaine-Taylor triangle adequate for romantic spectacle. Though undeniably waspy as Rebecca, Elizabeth Taylor's early beauty has a way of making you forget anything, including your name.
IVANHOE is filled with majestic sets, brilliantly constructed by Junge. The costuming was painstakingly created by Furse. MGM spared no expense in making IVANHOE; this became the costliest epic ever produced in England. The truth is that the studio had no choice. MGM had accumulated millions of
dollars in British banks but was restrained from taking this money out of the country.
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