Vikings, The (SE) B, B
MGM/1958/116/ANA 2.35

Bottom line: The Vikings is fun!

     The Vikings is a pretty simplistic revenge actioner that depends more on production detail and sweeping cinematography than plot or character to deliver an entertaining package. It's pretty much comic book in its approach, classic comic perhaps, but still drawn in obvious tableaus.

Douglas walks the oars. ©MGM

     Don't look for much sophistication in the plotting. In this tale of The Vikings, they are persistent raiders on the English coast, raising fear in the hearts of the more refined Englishmen. Ragnar leads one band of especially ferocious Norsemen. In one of his errant raids his sleeps with a Queen  and kills a king, thereby setting up the tale of revenge that plays out twenty years later.
     Kirk Douglas overacts as Einar, natural son of the Viking leader Ragnar. It's fun to watch Douglas chew the scenery. His intensity and the script somehow don't marry. Ernest Borgnine lends hearty support as Ragnar, roaring with laughter at every posturing Douglas moment. Tony Curtis seems rather prissy as Eric,  the toughened slave with royal bloodlines. Janet Leigh is a mighty tempting dish as Morgana. It's not hard to imagine the boys chewing up the sets over her.      The replicas of the Viking sailing ships and the beautiful landscape of the Norwegian fjords are handsomely photographed by veteran Jack Cardiff. Obviously, the hard work that went into setting up the production paid off handsomely on the finished look. The musical theme of composer Mario Nascimbene delivers a beautiful simplicity repeating the the lustful sound of the Vikings great horn. Director Richard Fleischer captures the majesty of the water and mountains that surround the Viking homeland, yet gets the action moving as quickly as possible. Viking parties are a wonder of drunken lust and attack on Aella's castle is a paradigm of fine action direction. The swordplay is convincing and the Viking thunder none-stop.
   The transfer looks quite fresh save for a tiny hint of element fading. Overall, color saturation is good and the wonderful sweeping images of cinematographer Cardiff are thoroughly breathtaking. Fog is handled very well in tight grain patterns. There are small markings of dirt and small scratches, but they are kept to a minimum. Black levels are mostly fine save for one particular night scene that appears washed out. One bad horizontal line crops up during the night rowing scene. The few outdoor scenes flooded with sunshine are very brightly lit with excellent contrast. Look at that beautiful purple robe that Morgana lies upon in the forest glade. Delicious, and Leigh doesn't hurt the composition either. The Dolby 2.0 mono sound delivers the goods with an open sound stage and good range.
    As a special edition bonus, MGM includes a video commentary with production photos hosted by director Richard Fleischer. The 28 minute documentary is filled with interesting details about the production and Fleischer is an excellent guide whose memory of the film is as clear as the waters surrounds the Viking lands.
He relates the walking of the oars sequence with wonder and admiration for Douglas. Fleischer had stunt men rehearse the scene for almost three weeks and when Douglas arrived he said he could do that and promptly walked the oars perfectly two times consecutively, only landing in the water on the third try, which appears in the completed film.



The  Movie Poster Archive includes extensive poster images from the films of stars like Susan Hayward, Kirk Douglas, Katharine Hepburn and many more. Our featured star is Kirk Douglas.

Spartacus (SE) /A, B+

This is one of the great epic films with an animally electric performance from Kirk Douglas. Great special editon.

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