Camelot (1967)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Romance  |   Run Time - 180 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - G
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Produced for a hefty $18 million and based upon an acclaimed (if flawed) stage musical, expectations were high for Camelot. From a design point of view, the film is quite a success. It has a distinctive, impressive look, at times invoking a fantasyland and at others the grimy reality of the Middle Ages, appropriate in a film which chronicles King Arthur's attempts to mold a barbaric world into his utopian vision. Unfortunately, Joshua Logan's deliberate pacing weakens the story and the audience's interest in it. That said, there are a number of exciting sequences -- such as the jousting tournament and the lovely candlelight wedding -- that are quite memorable. Logan's work is not made easier by his cast. Richard Harris is often bombastic when quiet strength and conviction are called for, but he does have some very effective moments, such as his first meeting with Guenevere. Vanessa Redgrave gives a game and effective performance, but her lack of voice undermines her otherwise solid work. Most damagingly, Franco Nero looks the part but is stiff and lifeless, creating a serious credibility problem. One can believe that Guenevere might enjoy a dalliance or two with this Lancelot, but not that she would ruin her life (and Arthur's and Lancelot's) for him. While the score could have been better served, the songs themselves are of such a high order that they overcome some indifferent performances. The Oscars that year recognized the high quality of the songs, the art direction and the costumes, and these factors -- as well as the irresistible basics of the story -- make Camelot a moderately enjoyable place to visit.