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Sunday, March 28, 2010

IVANHOE (1982)

If you can accept the ground rules of ‘80s television (an ultra bright/ultra sharp picture element for your ‘Trinatron’ tv; the glossy make-up & shag hair stylings; skimpy crowd scenes and the barely functional megging), this turns out to be a remarkably effective (and full) version of the Walter Scott classic. John Gay was a whiz @ churning out these redo scripts and the cast, at least on the male side, is largely better than M-G-M’s 1952 epic. There’s James Mason, Anthony Andrews, Michael Hordern, John Rhys-Davies, Julian Glover and Sam Neill who gallantly makes like a young James Mason as that noble, romantically conflicted villain Brian de Bois-Guilbert. The two women, Olivia Hussey & the underwhelming Lysette Anthony, are no match for the young Elizabeth Taylor and a stately Joan Fontaine, but that loss is offset by having Robin Hood & his Merry Men in their proper place. (M-G-M downplayed their role since Disney was releasing another Robin Hood pic that year.) What grand storytelling and what surprisingly rich characters Scott pulls out of the expected stereotypes. If only Allyn Ferguson’s dim score had some of the old Miklos Rozsa magic to it. (NOTE: That's a poster from the 1913 version!)

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