59 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2005
This movie is what we use to call "a good one from Hollywood".
It was filmed in 1952 in radiant Technicolor when Hollywood was launching one hit after other, "Ivanhoe" passed with quite good marks.
I was a kid when it was released and saw it with undivided attention as most of my age-mates and parents.
I recently viewed the VHS version again and I am still fond of this film. Is it a great movie? No. Is it a good movie? It certainly is and fully entertaining!
Based on Sir Walter Scott well known novel is a rich mixture of history, romance and drama.
It narrates the adventures of Wilfred of Ivanhoe, a knight of Saxon origins, who has gone into the Crusades against his father's will.
He returned to England to raise funds in order to rescue his imprisoned King, Richard Lionhearted.
He founds the kingdom ruled by John Lackland, Richard's junior brother, who by no means will cooperate and more so will try to stop his intents.
From here on adventures follow with jousts, castle's sieges, rescue of the feeble, difficult romances, out-laws helping the knight, evil knights trying to kill our hero but to no avail.
You name it you have it!
It was directed by Richard Thorpe, an artisan with 186 films in his account. He has started directing movies in the silent period. He was very versatile, directed Johnny Weissmuller in four Tarzan's chapters.
Between 1951 till 1953 he delivered at least four successful movies: "The Great Caruso" (1951), "The Prisoner of Zenda" (1952), "Ivanhoe" (1952) and "The Knights of the Round Table" (1953). He retired in 1967.
The Taylors perform paramount. Robert gives the viewers one of his classic hero's portraits with skill and wit. Elizabeth is very young and fascinating woman, she also delivers a very good acting piece. Even if she was never very fond of this film, WE were, and it is known: the public rules.
George Sanders as the evil Bois-Guilbert is very convincing. Joan Fontaine as Lady Rowena is a little faded.
A final reference for musical score authored by Budapest born Miklos Rozsa: underline forcefully the movie pictures.
If you like romance and adventure, do not miss this film!
Reviewed by Max Yofre.
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on April 11, 1999
Robert Taylor and Director Richard Thorpe team up for their first of two (Knights of the Round Table in 1953) epic tales of noble knights and beautiful damsels in this well made adaptation of the 1819 Sir Walter Scott classic, nominated in 1952 for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture. It is, of course, the classic retelling of one man's, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, quest to restore Richard The Lion-Hearted (Norman Wooland) to the throne stolen by his evil brother, Prince John (Guy Rolfe). But with all it's feats of derring-do, this version is also a tender tale of love. Robert Taylor stars as the intrepid Saxon knight-errant Wilfred of Ivanhoe, who is charmed by not one fair lady, but two; the stunningly beautiful Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor) and the stately Saxon princess Rowena (Joan Fontaine). In striking contrast to this romantic feast, there is the malevolent Sir Brian De Bois-Guilbert (George Sanders), Ivanhoe's deadly enemy and constant threat. This film features some very authentic looking and spectacular fighting sequences and is sure to become a favorite film of students of 12th-century English history. Filmed entirely on location in Great Britain, this movie is very rich in detail, including costumes and weaponry. Very representative of the Metro Goldwyn Mayer classics, this is a very good film somewhat typical of the film making of this decade, but still good enough to be enjoyed in modern day. If you somehow missed this one, give it a look; An excellent movie !!!
69 of 77 people found the following review helpful
on January 26, 2005
I'll be the first to admit that I am not as well read as I'd like to be...I was never forced to read Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe in school, so I really can't tell you how much of what was in the book actually made it into the 1952 film, but I suspect a good deal probably got lost in the translation given that the original novel seems exceptionally long (depending on the publisher, it ranges anywhere between 500 to 700 pages). Despite what may have been left out (probably a lot regarding the development of the characters), I still think Ivanhoe (1952) is a darn good film worthy of anyone's time. Directed by Richard Thorpe (The Thin Man Goes Home), the film stars Robert `The Man With the Perfect Profile' Taylor (Knights of the Round Table), Joan Fontaine (Rebecca, Suspicion), and Elizabeth `I've been married eight times' Taylor (National Velvet). Also appearing is George Sanders (A Shot in the Dark), Emlyn Williams (They Drive by Night), Robert Douglas (The Desert Rats), Felix Aylmer (Knights of the Round Table), and Guy Rolfe (Snow White and the Three Stooges, Mr. Sardonicus) as the dastardly Prince John.
After returning from the Crusades (the general consensus was that he croaked), the Saxon knight Wilfred of Ivanhoe (Taylor) finds the kingdom in a state of disrepair. The Normans, lead by the opportunistic Prince John (Rolfe), have assumed control of Mother England after the disappearance of King Richard (he actually got waylaid returning from The Crusades, and is now being held for ransom in Austria, which Prince John knows, but has decided not to pay up, keeping the whole affair on the QT). Ivanhoe thus begins his quest, in Richard's name, to remove the Norman villainy from the throne by challenging the current power structure, and wheelin' and a dealin' to come up with the funds to free Richard, through the aid of Isaac of York (Aylmer) and his comely daughter Rebecca (Ms. Taylor), who are both of the Jewish persuasion, and looked down upon equally by the Saxons and the Normans (Isaac's incentive is a guarantee from Wilfred on behalf of Richard that Isaac's persecuted peoples will be granted a home in England once Richard has returned...seems like a haughty promise on Wilfred's part). Oh yeah, Ivanhoe must also mend fences with his father, who disowned him after a difference of opinion with regards to The Crusades, renew his relationship with his father's ward, the lovely Lady Rowena (Fontaine), and enlist the aid of Locksley (Robin Hood) and his merry men. Donning the garb of the Black Knight, Wilfred challenges the corrupt Norman monarchy of Prince John and his lackeys Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert (Sanders) and Sir Hugh De Bracy (Douglas), the victor gaining a kingdom, the loser subject to death.
I really liked this film, and I thought it was too bad it wasn't made a year or two later than it was (the large scale usage of Cinemascope was just around the corner), as it would have benefited greatly with a panoramic showing, especially the large battle scenes. Regardless, some may say they just don't make them like this anymore, and I would tend to agree...oh, they (they being the current Hollywood system) try, with recent releases of Troy (did anyone else think Troy was a bit on the homoerotic side?) and Alexander, but too often those films get swept up with the expansive visuals, forgoing the important aspect of good acting and a decent story. Ivanhoe presents both, and in spades. I did feel some of the characters were a bit light (especially that of Elizabeth Taylor's Rebecca), but given the berth of the original material, some things obviously had to be minimized or discarded altogether. That being said, I thought the story fairly intricate, featuring a good many facets and excellent acting that kept me interested. Robert Taylor did well and oozes the chivalry one would expect from the once nobleman true to his liege. I especially liked the characters of Prince John, played by Guy Rolfe and Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, played by George Sanders...they were both equally heinous types that could easily elicit sneers from the audience anytime they appeared on screen (actually, later on, Sanders' character did seem to possess a smattering of what one might call a redemptive quality, but his motives were all screwy, so we didn't feel bad when he met the ending he did). Despite the film being thick with story, it doesn't lack in the action department. I could actually feel the competitors being shanked off their horses during the jousting scenes, the castle siege near the end was done extremely well, as was the fierce, close quarters battle between Wilfred and Sir Brian. And if you're one for the ladies, Ms. Fontaine and Ms. Taylor (who seemed a bit lackluster in her performance, but then a lackluster Elizabeth Taylor performance is still better than most) provide plenty of beauty, along with their other talents (look for the scene where Ms. Taylor's character is on trial...she possessed an unparalleled level of hotness in that full length white dress). This is one of those films that clicks on all cylinders, as all the elements (the rich and vibrant color cinematography, superior musical score, acting, costumes, etc.) work together well to create a wonderfully entertaining end result.
The full screen picture (1.33:1) looks great on this DVD, and the audio comes through clearly. Special features include the Oscar winning Tom and Jerry short `The Two Musketeers' (I always liked that one, although I always thought it kinda creepy the way it ended, with the inferred beheading of one of the main characters...), along with a Swashbuckler movie trailer gallery that includes one for this film, Knights of the Round Table (1953), and one for a film called Scaramouche (1952). Warner Home Video is getting a little better with its' inclusion of extras, but still has a long way to go.
21 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on June 16, 2004
There have been many versions of Sir Walter Scott's classic 1819 swashbuckling story "Ivanhoe", over the years but few of them come near MGM's well crafted and rousing 1952 version that reteamed the two Taylors (Robert and Elizabeth), for the second time. This version benefits greatly from being filmed on location in England, taking full advantage of the nature terrain which gives this film such an authentic feel and flavour. It marked another late career triumph for veteran MGM star Robert Taylor who was fresh from appearing in the blockbuster "Quo Vadis", in Rome when MGM sent him this time to England to take the lead role of Sir Walter Scott's heroic character fighting injustice in the medieval England of Prince John. This film has everything the swashbuckler fan could ask for, daring sword play, a beautiful leading lady, wonderous recreations of 12th Century England, and stunning action sequences filmed on the largest outdoor Castle set ever constructed by MGM while it had a studio in England.
The adventure story of the dashing knight Wilfred of Ivanhoe who champions the cause of the absent King Richard the Lion Hearted while he is away with the crusades is well known to most school age children but this film version is no mere comic book characterisation. Robert Taylor found a real niche late in his career playing these hero's of early English history and in "Ivanhoe",he is perfectly cast as the dashing knight who not only fights the wrong doers trying to steal King Richard's throne, but finds time to romance two beautiful women in Saxon princess Lady Rowena (Joan Fontaine), and the lovely young Jewess Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor). The opening of the film finds Richard's throne usurped by his younger brother the wicked Prince John (Guy Rolfe). While returning from the Crusades Ivanhoe discovers that King Richard far from being dead as his brother would have the country believe is actually being held for ransom in Austria. Returning to England Ivanhoe finds the Saxon's under siege from Prince John and on a visit where he attempts a reconciliation with his estranged father Cedric (Finlay Currie)he sees first hand the work of Prince John and his follower Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert (George Sanders). After an attempt is made to rob one of his father' guests the elderly jew Issac of York (Felix Aylmer) Ivanhoe becomes acquainted with his beautiful daughter Rebecca who pledges her jewellery towards King Richard's ransom. Entering a jousting tournament hoping to win the prize money to free Richard, Ivanhoe comes up against his mortal enemy Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert and is heavily wounded. He is taken to Rebecca's house to recover however Sir Brian not only seeks to destroy Ivanhoe but wants to take the lovely Rebecca as his own. In an attempt to flee Prince John's forces both lady Rowena and Rebecca are captured by Sir Brian who takes them to the Norman fortress where he imprisons both Isaac of York and Ivanhoe's father Cedric. Ivanhoe gives himself to Sir Brian in return for the other release but he is betrayed and imprisoned with the others. Sir Brian however hasn't counted on the Saxon's revenge and soon the castle is undersiege. Despite an attack which sees the castle taken by the Saxons Sir Brian manages to escape with Rebecca who is then put on trial for supposed witchcraft. When it looks like Rebecca will be burned as a witch Ivanhoe arrives to her defense and offers to settle the verdict by one to one combat with Sir Brian. During the fateful contest Sir Brian is killed and just in time King Richard arrives home to claim back his throne displace the usurper Prince John. The conclusion sees Ivanhoe reaffirm his commitment to the lady Rowena despite his obvious attraction to the younger Rebecca.
Nominated for an Academy Award in 1952 for Best Picture this was one of MGM's biggest productions for the year and no expense was spared on sets, colour photography and action sequences. Robert Taylor was so successul in this role that MGM assigned him to play Sir Lancelot in "Knights of the Round Table", the following year to be also directed by Richard Thorpe. Rarely has Elizabeth Taylor appeared more beautiful than as the young heroine Rebecca. Hers is an interesting role which thankfully presents a sympathetic jewish character into the story. Elizabeth herself never wanted to do this film and was always scathing of her own performance here passing the entire film off in interviews as "just a big medieval Western". That really doesn't do the film justice as it is first rate entertainment of the old school. George Sanders and Guy Rolfe make superb villians and Sanders indeed manages to breath extra dimension into what could have been simply a one dimensional villian with his playing opposite Elizabeth Taylor in particular. The spectacular jousting scenes and the siege of the Norman castle are sequences rarely bettered in these type of films and every effort was made to give the film the correct period feel. The costumes by Roger Furse and art direction supplied by Alfred Junge really enhance the atmosphere and authentic historical look of "Ivanhoe" making it one of the better thought out historical adventures from the 1950's decade.
First class entertainment is provided all the way by MGM's "Ivanhoe", and as an example of what the studio could produce even as it went into decline in the 1950's it is top rate. The two Taylor's would never appear together again on film but they make a most interesting screen team and "Ivanhoe", boasts the sort of supporting cast in Joan Fontaine, George Sanders , Emlyn Williams and Finlay Currie that makes me wonder where the equivalent talent is in Hollywood today. Enjoy Robert Taylor fighting evil in 12th Century England in this wonderful version of Sir Walter Scott's immortal "Ivanhoe".
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2002
I saw this movie in 1952 when I was 7 years old. Years later I bought the Laser disc and am dismayed there is no DVD.There have been many swashbuckling movies but this is the best. It is a ripping good story, poignant as well. Beautifully filmed! Robert Taylor Joan Fontaine and Elizabeth Taylor are superb-as is George Sanders. I have shown this film over and over again to my children and they love it. It is romantic without being vulgar. It has plenty of action" without being gruesome. It has character. And lest I forget a wonderful musical score.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2006
This is the best Ivanhoe available, and I believe most people who have been waiting for its release on DVD would agree. It was an excellent effort at historical accuracy for 1952, although it took liberties with the original storyline. Considering the amount of antisemitism that the Walter Scott book contained, that's probably just as well. Despite those changes, it's still more faithful in spirit to the original than any other Ivanhoe film. A really neat capability, now that it's out on DVD, is to freeze-frame the painted backdrops to get a better look at them. When Ivanhoe guides the Norman knights to his family castle in the beginning of the film, for example, there's a wonderful rendition of an early Motte and Bailey castle circa 1200. Where the Motte is a plain stone tower on a large mound, with a great house (or hall) in the bailey where everyone lived most of the time and had nightly feasts, such as the one the Normans barged in on. You could easily imagine yourself looking at Launceston, or one of several other Norman Motte and Baileys that still exist in England, France, and Italy. Of course, there were things out of place for the late 1100s, but it was close enough to help the viewer feel like 'you were there'. The camera work seemed excellent, being one of the first wide screen cinema-scope pictures. Stunts were basic by today's standards, with some sequences, like the arrows firing against the castle's gatehouse, appearing fairly comical. Most characters were above average in their acting abilities, although Elizabeth Taylor seemed to recite her lines in a machine-like tone at times. The music was well written, however it was magnetically recorded on monophonic film and sounds tinny and flat when compared to the Dolby THX encoded movies we're all used to hearing today. Certainly not in the same league with modern films like Lord Of The Rings, but for 1950's technology, it rates a full 5 stars.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 2005
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer developed a kick for swashbuckling in the early 50s, just as Warner Bros. and Errol Flynn were bowing out of the sword play. Valiantly throwing down the gauntlet, MGM launched into an impressive roster of knights and their ladies fare with this adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's "Ivanhoe." Among the most thrilling epics, the film stars Robert Taylor as the medieval champion destine to raise the ransom for captured King Richard (Norman Wooland). Ivanhoe's unpopular rescue of Isaac (Felix Aylmer), from anti-Semites subverts his attempts to reconcile with his own estranged father (Findlay Currie) but it does yield a fruitful bounty in Isaac's daughter, the fair Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor), to pay Ivanhoe's entry fee in a tournament. The mischief grows as Ivanhoe's closest associates, Sir Brian (George Sanders) and Sir Hugh (Robert Douglas) conspire with the evil Prince John (Guy Rolfe), to steal Rebecca and Rowena (Joan Fontaine) for themselves. Alas, both maidens fancy the raven haired Ivanhoe instead. What's any other strapping paragon of viral manhood squeezed into nylon leggings and a breast plate to do? Director Richard Thorpe lavishes "Ivanhoe" with nonstop adventure and thrills, making the film a veritable feast for the romantic in all of us. Yikes and tally ho for the old country. "Ivanhoe is pure entertainment!
Warner's DVD is remarkably clean and solid. The Technicolor image exhibits only marginal deterioration in its illustrious fidelity. For the most part colors are rich and vibrant. Fine details are nicely realized for a very textually dense picture that will surely please. Occasionally the image appears slightly blurred. There is also a hint of haloing which occurs during several of the matte process shots and draws undo attention to the fact that much of the glory of the realm is actually a painting on glass that has been recomposited with the foreground action sequences. Black levels are deep and solid. Whites are generally clean. The audio is mono but impressive in its balance and blend. Extras, alas, are limited to a Tom & Jerry cartoon already available on the Tom & Jerry 2-disc set from Warner and a swashbuckler's theatrical trailer gallery - total 3. Ho-hum. For DVD Decision DVDs more was and should have been expected herein. But overall, this is a very nice visual presentation.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2005
Ivanhoe is a fine adaptation of Scott's most popular novel. The film is full of excitement and romance and retells a good story well. The historical setting is familiar from Robin Hood. King John is on the throne his brother Richard languishing in prison. Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor) seeks to raise the ransom to free Richard and is helped by Isaac of York and his daughter Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor) who, having suffered persecution because of their Jewish faith under King John, hope that the situation might change under King Richard. Rebecca falls in love with Ivanhoe, but much stands in their way, including the Norman knight Bois-Gilbert (George Sanders), who hates Ivanhoe and wants Rebecca for his own. Moreover Ivanhoe has long ago pledged himself to Rowena (Joan Fontaine), a Christian like himself, and in these intolerant times all sides forbid love between those from different faiths.
Ivanhoe is beautifully filmed with the stunning colours so typical of Technicolor films of this period. The script and the acting are both very good, with Liz Taylor particularly fine as Rebecca. She was never more beautiful than in this part, but shows her acting talent as well. Her scenes are the most powerful and moving in the film. Robert Taylor makes no attempt at an English accent, so sounds rather different from the rest of the cast. But this hardly matters as no one is in fact speaking the language of the twelfth century, so who is to say which accent is the most authentic. George Sanders is his typically villainous self and at times is in danger of slightly overacting, but he does bring out the sympathetic aspects of the character and makes what could be a one-dimensional role interesting.
Ivanhoe is a film full of jousting and sword fights with exciting battle scenes, but it has some depth as well. It may be mainly an entertainment, but it has powerful and moving themes about justice and tolerance, which make it all the more worth watching. The DVD is well produced with excellent picture and sound quality. The only extras are some trailers and a delightful Tom and Jerry cartoon "Two Mousketeers" with Jerry and the little French mouse battling Monsieur Pussycat. The DVD should be enjoyed by anyone who likes an historical film with a fine story, lots of action and a moving romance.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on September 17, 2009
This is perhaps the worst DVD quality I have yet seen from a major studio: colors are washed out, resolution is mediocre, for the first 20% of the film there are vertical scratches in the print, and the music in the opening credits shows severe high frequency loss. The defects were so many that I didn't bother pursuing the audio in greater detail although speech was at least reasonably intelligible. Overall, the quality is about on a par with a VHS tape and vastly inferior to that of the laserdisc issued in 1993.
In a quick check of reviews here I found only one person who commented on the poor quality of this DVD and, surprisingly, I found a review that praised its quality. That was from a "Top 100" reviewer which confirms my suspicion of reviews from people who write large numbers of them.
Combined with the serious scratches in the print of the Olivier/Garson version of Pride and Prejudice which I recently saw, I've become a bit leery of purchasing a Warner DVD without renting it first to examine the quality. Potential purchasers of this title might want to do the same to see if they can tolerate the many defects in this release.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Ivanhoe is easily the most glorious of MGM's British swashbucklers made with blocked funds designed to beat a short-lived embargo on US films being shown in the UK. It's also one of many roles intended for Stewart Granger that instead ended up revitalizing Robert Taylor's career by default. He's not exactly the perfect choice for the part, but he does well enough even if he is outshone by George Sanders de Bois Guilbert, hopelessly in unrequited love with nice Jewish girl Elizabeth Taylor who is herself hopelessly in unrequited love with Ivanhoe. Indeed, Sanders manages to make him both ruthless and still worthy of pity. That he does is as much down to the quality of ?neas MacKenzie's adaptation and Noel Langley and Marguerite Roberts' fine script, which strips away Scott's often inaccessible wordiness to find the human story at its heart, adding an intelligent portrait of anti-Semitism along the way.
Richard Thorpe's vivid direction and Freddie Young's gorgeous Technicolor photography ensure the film always looks a treat, while Miklos Rozsa's score is one of his very best, equally at home with both the swashbuckling spectacle and the tragic love story. Although Emlyn Williams `Squire' Wamba is a pain, most of the supporting cast - Joan Fontaine, Felix Aylmer, Finlay Currie, Robert Douglas, Guy Rolfe - acquit themselves well. Grand entertainment.
WHV's DVD transfer is for the most part excellent, though the ambush of Cedric's party seems a little faded and lacking in depth. Sadly the nly film-related extra is a teaser trailer (there was a much better 4-minute trailer for the film), but at least they've made an effort to pad it out with Tom and Jerry's Oscar winning cartoon The Two Mouseleteers and trailers for Scaramouche, Knights of the Round Table and The Aviator.