Prince Valiant (1954)

Rating: **
Review Date: 11/6/16
Cast: Robert Wagner, James Mason, Janet Leigh, Sterling Hayden, Debra Paget

"I hate you! I love you! I'll never marry another!"

A tedious and tiresome adventure of a Viking prince named Valiant (Robert Wagner) who travels to Camelot in order to become a knight of the round table and win back his father's kingdom. The mysterious and devious Black Knight uses Valiant to procure a Viking army to march against Camelot, while romantic misunderstandings make a mess of Valiant, Aleta (Janet Leigh), Gawain (Sterling Hayden), and Ilene (Debra Paget). Valiant finally exposes the traitor in King Arthur's midst, reclaims his father's crown, AND wins the girl.

Admittedly, the only reason I picked this up was because Debra Paget is in it, but her role is disappointingly small. The dialog is terrible and the acting is embarrassingly awful, which is a surprise considering the talented cast. Both Robert Wagner and Sterling Hayden come across as lifeless and stiff, as if they were reciting an elementary school play. Only James Mason attempts to add any inflection to his delivery, but that's only to make him sound sinister. Janet Leigh and Debra Paget are both lovely, but have little to do other than swoon and get in the way. Some of the cinematography is quite good, and the jousting tournament is well filmed, but the production relies too heavily on cheap looking matte paintings and rear projection. The continuity is also a bit sketchy at times. And lastly, as if to make up for the awkward and stilted dialog, the obnoxious music score comes on WAY too strong and overpowers every other aspect of the film. It's a solidly mediocre film, but I found it disappointing in nearly every respect.