The Vikings (1958)

Genres - Action, Adventure, Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Costume Adventure  |   Release Date - Jun 28, 1958 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom, United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

A big, robust and hearty adventure epic, The Vikings is no classic, but it provides a considerable amount of entertainment value, especially for those who are fans of empty-minded action. Not that Vikings doesn't have other things on its mind than fights and wolf pits and manly punishments; it's just that its mind doesn't really move too deeply into those other things. Yes, Janet Leigh is on hand for some "kiss panels" and to provide the appropriate plot complications, but she's handled rather mechanically. And there's plenty of family secrets and hidden rivalries, but they're not etched in a particularly Eugene O'Neill-insightful manner. No, Vikings is your typical Saturday morning adventure flick, but blown up big and given a generous budget and estimable cast. The stars can't do a lot with the material, of course, but Kirk Douglas clearly enjoys the chance to let all the stops out and prove that he can both act AND bound across a row of oars. Tony Curtis is not so comfortable with the goings-on and, as is often the case with a period costume piece, doesn't really seem to fit in. But Ernest Borgnine is a hoot as the Viking father to end all Viking fathers, and Leigh looks lovely and determined. It's visually a delight, especially with Jack Cardiff's powerful cinematography. Richard Fleischer's direction is not his best, but it's much more than adequate and keeps things moving at a lively pace.