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76 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Viking--Where is the Bell ? !
I had not seen "The Long Ships" since it was released theatrically 40 years ago--yet it left a lasting impression. Of course, I am delighted that Columbia has issued this beautiful DVD--wide-screen, gorgeous colour--it is a treat to look at !

I think some of the negative reviews must come from people who took this movie far too seriously. What we have here is...
Published on July 1, 2003 by peterfromkanata

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Viking Flick From Valhalla
A real comic book of a movie with a bizarre cast, nonsensical script, shaky special effects, repetitive music yet a striking visual style with occasionally impressive direction. The Long Ships is one of those films that is so awful that it becomes enjoyable - a real Saturday afternoon popcorn flick that would make a great double bill with that other misguided epic - Taras...
Published on June 24, 2002 by Cowboy Buddha


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76 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Viking--Where is the Bell ? !, July 1, 2003
By 
peterfromkanata (Kanata, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Long Ships (DVD)
I had not seen "The Long Ships" since it was released theatrically 40 years ago--yet it left a lasting impression. Of course, I am delighted that Columbia has issued this beautiful DVD--wide-screen, gorgeous colour--it is a treat to look at !

I think some of the negative reviews must come from people who took this movie far too seriously. What we have here is good, old-fashioned "hokum"--the actors knew it--the director knew it--so lighten up, and enjoy this rousing, exciting adventure.

I'm sure that Widmark and Poitier realised that they were not going to win Oscars for this movie--but sometimes even the best actors like to do things that are fun ! I suspect that Widmark was in his 40s, yet like that other famous "viking"--Kirk Douglas--he obviously stayed in shape, and acquits himself well in the action scenes. Mr. Poitier must have had a ball, wearing an outlandish wig, and flowing "Moorish" robes.

Movie buffs will see many familiar faces in this one, although--in a number of cases--they may not be so apparent at first. Terrific character actor, Lionel Jeffries, with heavy make-up and a top-knot, is the eunuch guarding the harem ( not too well ! )--his purpose is clearly comic relief. Stalwart British actors, David Lodge and Edward Judd, are "on board" as thick-bearded vikings. Another viking is played by that quintessential Scotsman, Gordon Jackson--I suppose some Scots might have travelled to Norway ? Clifford Evans ( on leave from Hammer Films ? ) is dignified as the viking king. Russ Tamblyn, always an acrobatic, athletic force, has his moments as the younger viking brother. Rossana Shiaffino and Beba Loncar are beautiful women--but that's all. Finally, the award for unbelievable over-acting goes to Oscar Homolka, as Widmark's ( and Tamblyn's ) father--his "drunken" scene at the mandatory "viking orgy" is quite surreal !

There are a number of memorable scenes, and I agree with other reviewers about the "Mare of Steel"--in 40 years, I never forgot it. You will not forget the poor "guinea pig" selected for a demonstration of this lethal device. Will Mr. Widmark be next ? Start chewing those finger nails !

One small criticism--as I mentioned, Columbia has done a beautiful job of presenting this film in all of it's colourful glory. However, someone in the "proof-reading" department really blew it. On the cover of the DVD case, the two stars' names are at the top--Mr. Poitier's name is spelled incorrectly. He is only one of the biggest stars in the history of film--so this glitch is unfortunate.

Anyway--for history scholars and lovers of authenticity--stay away. For the rest of us who like pure entertainment, "The Long Ships" is an exciting voyage !

A very sad footnote, dated 27 March 2008--Mr. Richard Widmark has passed away at 93, after a long illness. One of the finest actors of his generation, he impressed movie fans with many fine performances--another great star gone.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Viking movie I have seen!, January 12, 1999
By 
This review is from: Long Ships [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A yarn of long ships and tall men. The long ship: one especially constructed as King Harald's funeral ship. The hero: Richard Widmark, a ne'er-do-well as crafty as Odysseus. His father: Krok, a tremendous beer-swilling thane, builder of the long ship. King Harald dupes Krok, paying him a mere two gold pieces for his two years of effort. So Rolf (RW) and his brother Orm consider it fair to steal the long ship to search for a legendary golden bell, "as tall as three tall men" to recoup their fortunes. To guard against reprisals against their family while they are absent, Rolf and Orm also kidnap the king's lovely daughter. Thereby is the stage set for the search for the bell, the pursuit by the king, and the exciting clash with the Moors, led by Sidney Poitier. If you like action and adventure, you must see this movie!
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Matinee Entertainment, July 6, 2003
By 
S. Doyle (Dublin 6, Ireland Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Long Ships (DVD)
I think that this DVD (super transfer)proves a point that there is still a market for this form of entertaiment and without a doubt is far superior to most of the trash we get nowadays in the cinema. Its not that often one can say that this is a Family Movie and a very good one at that. I cant wait for more titles like this
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth more than a look, September 17, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Long Ships [VHS] (VHS Tape)
One of those movies that you can lose yourself in and enjoy tremendously, even though . . . . Sidney Poitier is rather stiff, and everyone talks in 20th Century colloquial American English, but the scenery is great, the story absorbing, the music stirring. No, this is not AFI 100 stuff, but sometimes, you just don't care and want something like this.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Viking Flick From Valhalla, June 24, 2002
This review is from: Long Ships [VHS] (VHS Tape)
A real comic book of a movie with a bizarre cast, nonsensical script, shaky special effects, repetitive music yet a striking visual style with occasionally impressive direction. The Long Ships is one of those films that is so awful that it becomes enjoyable - a real Saturday afternoon popcorn flick that would make a great double bill with that other misguided epic - Taras Bulba.
I'm always amazed that Hollywood has not made more films about the Vikings, especially after the success of Kirk Douglas's film in the late fifties. The Long Ships seems a poor relation in comparison - I'm sure the ships were the ones left over from The Vikings. The director of The Long Ships - Jack Cardiff - was director of photography on The Vikings. But there the similarity between the two films ends.
The heroes of this soggy saga are two all-American Norsemen - Richard Widmark and (!) Russ Tamblyn (the only ones without beards) - who lead a motley crew of English, Irish and Scottish Vikings whose thane is a Hungarian (the always watchable Oscar Homolka). The bad guys, by an incredible plot device, are the Moors of North Africa led by an unsmiling and uncomfortable Sidney Poitier. At least the rest of the cast know that the film is tongue in cheek (just listen to the dialogue) but Poitier is so gravely serious that you suspect he is auditioning for Othello. The wonderful British character actor Lionel Jeffries is blacked up as a comic mute eunuch in what must surely be the strangest piece of casting of the century. The female members of the cast were obviously selected for their physical charms rather than any acting ability - and what a great pity it is that Rosanna Schiaffino ever changed out of her initial costume.
The plot revolves around the search for a huge bell made of solid gold - "as tall as three tall men". There is plenty of action along the way. A battle on a beach is particularly well staged - the sight of the Moorish army in the distance is reminiscent of Omar Sharif's entrance in Lawrence of Arabia. But there are also too many shots of model ships in a very obvious studio tank. Much of the film was shot in Yugoslavia with Croatia's famous Lim Fjord standing in for Scandinavia. The contrast between the grainly Nordic scenes and the brightly lit Moorish ones is a nice touch and, hopefully, intentional. Much of the film is a cheerful mixture of disparate elements, recklessly blending action, gore and comedy. The one thing everybody remembers about it is the Mare of Steel whose effects are discreetly and, some would say, disappointingly edited.
In the end, it is hard to dislike The Long Ships even if it is a bargain basement variation on a better Viking film. But at least it has more humour than Kirk Douglas's movie. Richard Widmark gets the best line in the film after the mighty golden bell goes crashing down a cliff to the sea. But you still wonder what the casting people were thinking about.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Most fun Viking Flick, February 25, 2003
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This review is from: Long Ships [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Now some will tell you "Vikings" is the best or some other film. I myself have a copy of "Vikings" too. But when it comes to the most fun I would have to say "The Long Ships" wins the prize. Take a swarthy group of Vikings on the quest for a giant golden bell, a dangerous sea journey, an army of Moors to battle, a ruthless King, and a fiendishly unusual device, "The Steel Mare", to kill a man and you have a classic.

It has great scenery, sets, costumes, music, and the cast does a great job of hamming it up. Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier are perfect. You can tell they all had fun doing this movie. Though we don't get to see some carnage such as the results of riding the Mare, who needs to, my imagination works fine thank you. Quite honestly the in your face gratuitous gore of many other movies is overrated. When you think about it there are few movies about Vikings, and of those you definitely want to add this to your collection. The whole family should get a kick out of this one.

You will be humming the theme song after the movie, and may find yourself swinging pillows at one another seeing imaginary Moors. I couldn't wait any longer to see it on TV or until this comes out on DVD so I bought it on VHS. Now that I got the VHS copy it is coming out on DVD. DOH! I ended up buying this DVD and it is incredibly sharp. What a beautiful job of transferring it. Not much in the way of extras but still a wonderful DVD to own.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Rousing Viking Adventure Story, October 11, 2006
This review is from: The Long Ships (DVD)
Few movies can match this one for sheer entertainment value. The two sons of a Viking shipbuilder steal the King's funeral ship and set off in search of the lost legendary treasure of a great golden bell. But they have deadly rivals in the form of a Moorish prince and his warriors, who are also seeking the fabulous prize. Non-stop fun, with storms at sea, battles, orgies, unexpected humor and more. Truly a gripping film that takes the viewer along on a wonderful epic adventure. Richard Widmark is in top form as the scapegrace oldest son, with Russ Tamblyn as the more idealistic one. Sidney Poitier chills the viewer with his menacing portrayal of the Moorish prince, as cold-blooded a monarch as ever known. Many well-known British character actors round out the wonderful cast. The film is blessed with a great heroic score, larger than life characters and a vivid sense of story telling.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The DVD has been beautifully remastered!, September 27, 2003
By 
Roger J. Buffington (Huntington Beach, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
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This review is from: The Long Ships (DVD)
This is one of my all-time favorite fun films, and far and away the best Viking film around. I originally bought it in VHS format because that was all that was available. However, I just got the DVD version, and it is just great! They did a fabulous job remastering it--the video is very crisp and bright, doing justice to a wonderful and fun story. As I noted in the review of the VHS version, this is an unpretentious, ripping adventure film with plenty of action, good acting, and no dreary political axes to grind. Widmark, Portier and cast do a fine job.
This is the story of a gang of Vikings who steal the King's funeral ship and go on a raiding party to seize "the Mother of Voices" -- a huge golden bell "as tall as three tall men" which contains "half the gold in all the world in one place..." The Moors, led by Sidney Portier, are also after the bell, and therein lies a fine and fun tale of adventure. This is a film the whole family can watch and enjoy more than once.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memorable!, May 7, 2003
By 
This review is from: The Long Ships (DVD)
My Dad took me to see this film when I was 10, in 1964. In 1988 I took my Mum on a retirement 'journey' that ventured through Yugoslavia. I swam in the town of Budva (Montenegro) and remembered something...this was where 'The Long Ships' was filmed! I remembered the scenery from 1964! I tried to ask the locals (in my pigeon Russian) but only a few seemed to remember...then I found it...the Great Golden Bell! 'The Mother of Voices'...O.K. it was wood, the gold leaf having long ago fallen off but what the hell! Do see this film! It's a great adventure with a brilliant score and an ensamble cast that obviously had great fun. 'The Vikings' takes realism to the 9th degree, this film takes adventure and mid-60's film making to an equal plateau...enjoy it!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mediocre film based on a great but little read novel, January 11, 2006
This review is from: The Long Ships (DVD)
Like most reviewers here I saw this film when I was a kid, and at the time loved it. In fact, I saw it many times and loved it until.... in high school I got around to reading an English translation of the Swedish novel it was very loosely and I mean VERY LOOSELY based on, "The Long Ships" or "Red Orm" by Frans Bengtsson, one of the best selling novels ever printed in Sweden. The book blew me away and anyone else I've met in the last 40 years that ever read it also recalls it as one of the best novels they ever read. For me this film this is an extraordinary example of how a great piece of literature can get mangled almost beyond recognition by Hollywood into a silly but mildly entertaining motion picture.
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The Long Ships
The Long Ships by Jack Cardiff (DVD - 2003)
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