Friday, November 18, 2011

Ivanhoe (1952)



If you have ever read a book or seen a film about Robin Hood you basically know the story of Ivanhoe only the characters have different names and the plot is a little different but not by much. The story of this chivalrous medieval knight lacks much of the charm that Robin Hood has.
            Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor) was a knight in King Richard’s army during the crusades. On his way home from fighting he finds the king is still alive being held for ransom in Vienna. The knight returns home to England and immediately tries to fund funds to rescue the king. Ivanhoe has been disowned by his father Sir Cedric for going off to fight. He sneaks into his father’s home so he can he see Lady Rowena (Joan Fontaine) who is a ward of the king and his love.
            Sir Cedric has allowed two Norman knights one of them De Bois- Guilbert (George Sanders) to eat at his table. Also at one of the tables is a Jewish man named Isaac. Discussion of King Richard comes up and Ivanhoe reveals himself. His father is not too happy that he is back and does not believe the king is still alive.
            That night Isaac is attacked and Ivanhoe agrees to take the old man home. The two men discuss rescuing Richard with the money Isaac could get from his fellow Jews. Isaac does not want to bother because he feels he and his people are not welcomed anywhere. Ivanhoe sees the man has a young beautiful daughter Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor). Under disguise she goes to Ivanhoe’s home to bring him her mother’s jewels as part of the ransom money. He catches her thinking her a thief but right away recognizes her eyes.       
            Much like the archer match in Robin Hood Prince John and Guilbert decide to hold a jousting tournament to bring out Ivanhoe. All the Saxons that have come up against the Normans have failed but of course Ivanhoe comes in and defeats all the Normans. He is badly hurt but Rebecca heals him. Rowena meets Rebecca at the match after Ivanhoe is wounded, she sees that that Rebecca is love with Ivanhoe and becomes a little jealous.
            Down the line in the story Cedric, Rowena, Isaac, and Rebecca are taken prisoner by Prince John and Guilbert. With the help of Robin Hood and his followers Ivanhoe manages to rescue everyone except for Rebecca who was taken away by Guilbert and Prince John. The prince puts Rebecca on trial for witchcraft since she learned healing from a woman who was accused of witchcraft herself. Ivanhoe challenges Guilbert to battle to the death in order to save the young girl. Guilbert really loves Rebecca he is willing to save her if she recounts her love for Ivanhoe.
            King Richard comes home to save the day. Ivanhoe and Rowena live happily ever after in love when Rebecca realizes that the knight is really truly in love with the lady.
            I loved Robert Taylor he was beyond handsome here and his performance was really good. He was perfect as a chivalrous knight he had the perfect look of determination and loyalty. Joan Fontaine in her few scenes was excellent. I actually liked Elizabeth Taylor. I read that Elizabeth Taylor and several other people felt she was not right for the role of Rebecca. I thought she was good it is one of her better performances I have seen and she was outrageously gorgeous. George Sanders was very good as well at first you hate him and then you get a soft spot for him because he really loved Rebecca. 
          The story I found so boring and dull it was not exciting in any way.  There were many good scenes such as the jousting tournament and where Robin Hood and his men storm the castle. As a romantic at heart I really liked when Ivanhoe and Rowena see each other for the first time after his long absence, it was sweet and Joan Fontaine played it fabulously. Now I understand that the film was based off a book and it felt like a big rip off of Robin Hood. I know it was set in the same time period and Ivanhoe knew Robin Hood but there were so many aspects of the story of Robin Hood in this story that I could not help comparing. Ivanhoe I found to be more serious which is probably why it was a little slow and boring.
            Ivanhoe is alright. The cast was very good they all worked well together and it was nice to see some of the cast in color. Ivanhoe is worth sitting through for the cast and some of the action scenes. Just try not to expect an exciting story.