Camelot (1967)

camelot movie 1967 movie review
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Nice solid adaptation

Not my favorite music

 
Movie Info

Movie Name:  Camelot

Studio:  Warner Bros.

Genre(s):  Musical/Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  October 25, 1967

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

camelot king arthur mordred richard harris david hemmings

Worst…son…ever

Camelot is a towering, beautiful place in a time of darkness. Ruled by King Arthur (Richard Harris), Arthur has decided to take Guenevere (Vanessa Redgrave) as his queen.  At the encouragement of Merlyn (Laurence Naismith), Arthur forms a “round table” of knights to help spread the glory and message of Camelot…but all things must fall.  Geunevere begins a secret relationship with Lancelot (Franco Nero) that could threaten the kingdom.  When Arthur’s illegitimate child Mordred (David Hemmings) arrives in Camelot, he stirs up the pain and emotion that could bring Camelot crashing down!

Directed by Joshua Logan, Camelot is a musical movie adaptation of the 1960 Broadway musical.  The play was an adaptation of the Arthurian legend presented in T.H. White’s The Once and Future King from 1958.  The film won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Set Direction, Best Costume Design, and Best Adapted Score with nominations for Best Cinematography and Best Sound.

Camelot’s story is fairly known do to the Arthurian legend so the key is to make it interesting again…the musical succeeds in this, but while watching Camelot, it feels like an odd source for a musical.

camelot merlyn owl laurence naismith

I know this all about Arthur/Geunevere/Lancelot, but can’t we have more creepy Merlyn?

I’ve never known how to take the legend of King Arthur…are we supposed to like Arthur?  Guenevere?  Lancelot?  I think they are all kind of petty characters.  When Mordred is introduced, he just seems like more of the same shallowness so I’ve never faulted him for destroying a broken kingdom.  The wonder and glory of Camelot is rarely portrayed…it is always the petty sparring and downfall.  The musical just follows this but it is a rather strong adaptation including the always weird plausible deniability with Arthur not officially knowing Lancelot and Guenevere were a couple so he didn’t have to do anything about it.  I just don’t know if the music helps or hurts the telling as a drama.

The cast is strong in their roles, but the movie had squabbles during filming.  Richard Harris was allegedly very difficult to work with (it was part of the reason Julie Andrews didn’t reprise the role in addition to scheduling problems) and he and Vanessa Redgrave also allegedly battled.  It is interesting to note that like her character, Redgrave was in a relationship with Franco Nero during the shooting so it adds authenticity to their onscreen relationship.  David Hemmings has the sniveling needed as Mordred and Lionel Jeffries once again plays way above his actual age as Lionel Jeffries.  I just wish that they had done more with Merlyn (as played by Laurence Naismith).

camelot guenevere lancelot captured franco nero vanessa redgrave

So wait, I’m not supposed to sleep with the Queen? My bad…I’ll just be going.

The movie looks pretty good.  It has a lot of sets, but they do a much better job with the sets than some other musicals.  It is shot rather dark and it gives the movie much more atmosphere.  I don’t know that I love the music of Camelot, but it does sound good as presented here.

Camelot was more than a movie.  The musical was one of John F. Kennedy’s favorite films and lent itself to the idea that his White House was “Camelot”.  The movie carries some of this royalty with it, and this helps make the old story new and fresh.  Camelot is one of those classic musicals that I didn’t know much about…though long and rather bloated, it still is a good viewing.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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