The Vikings

  • 1958
  • 1 HR 54 MIN
  • NR
  • Adventure, Historical

Viking warriors led by Borgnine raid the English coast, raping and plundering. In one small kingdom, he kills the king and rapes the queen. The child who is born as a result of that assault grows up to be Curtis, a Viking slave who knows nothing of his parentage. He and Douglas, Borgnine's legitimate son, take a dislike to each other and fight a duel, during...read more

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Viking warriors led by Borgnine raid the English coast, raping and plundering. In one small kingdom, he kills the king and rapes the queen. The child who is born as a result of that assault grows up to be Curtis, a Viking slave who knows nothing of his parentage. He and Douglas, Borgnine's

legitimate son, take a dislike to each other and fight a duel, during which Curtis' falcon claws out one of Douglas' eyes. Enraged, Douglas orders the slave tossed into a pit of giant crabs. Curtis is saved when Donald, who was banished from England and is planning his return with Viking help,

recognizes an amulet Curtis wears which proclaims his true identity. On another raid, the Norsemen carry off princess Leigh, and Douglas decides he wants her, although she has fallen in love with Curtis. Leigh and Curtis escape one night, and when Douglas and Borgnine chase them, the pursuing boat

crashes on the rocks in the fjord and sinks. Borgnine is pulled aboard by Curtis and taken to England as a gift for evil king Thring. Thring orders the old Viking chieftain thrown to their more civilized variation of the giant crab pit--the ravenous wolf pit. Thring laughs when Borgnine asks to

die like a Viking, with a sword in his hand, but Curtis takes pity and cuts his hands free and gives him his own sword. Borgnine almost gleefully jumps into the pit with a shout and manages to take a few wolves to Valhalla with him. Thring is outraged, mostly at the loss of his precious wolves,

and orders that Curtis' hand be chopped off and he be set adrift in the North Sea. The boat, of course, drifts straight back to Norway where Curtis tells Douglas the fate of his father, and the two decide to put aside their mutual hatred to seek vengeance on Thring. They sail to England and attack

the castle, and Douglas then frees Leigh and proposes marriage. She tells him she loves Curtis and, when Douglas vows to kill him, she reveals that they are half-brothers. Curtis shows up and the two fight a duel on the battlements of the castle. Douglas gets the upper hand and is about to kill

Curtis, but he hesitates, apparently reluctant to kill his own kin. Curtis knows nothing about any blood ties and uses Douglas' moment of indecision to drive his own blade into his foe. The film concludes as Douglas is given a Viking funeral, set adrift on a burning longship.

A rousing adventure, despite a great deal of out-and-out silliness, this film was a major ordeal to make. The projected $2.5 million budget doubled as the studio leased the rights to an entire fjord, constructed a Viking village on a rock in the middle of it, and built a fleet of longships copied

from reproductions in museums. The cast and crew were housed on two ships moored in the fjord and were shuttled back and forth by a fleet of 17 old PT boats. Weather proved a problem: of the 60 shooting days in Norway, 49 were rainy and dark. Finally the camera crew improvised a way to protect the

camera from the elements, and some haunting shots of Viking longships gliding through the rain and fog were captured. Douglas and Borgnine give memorably bombastic performances--Douglas leering with his milked-over eye and Borgnine shouting war cries through his bushy beard as he happily meets his

death in the wolf pit. Curtis is less memorable and seems as out of place as he always does in these swashbucklers. The production values are all top drawer, and, thanks to a publicity campaign that included sending Viking dagger letter openers to reviewers, having seven Norwegians sail a longship

from Oslo to New York, and lifting another longship onto the marquee of the New York theater where it debuted, the film was a big moneymaker.

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