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Knights of the Round Table

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Stuffy Big Screen Epic In Average Looking Transfer

    'Knights of the Round Table' was MGM's first feature produced in the newly christened widescreen format of Cinemascope and director, Richard Thorpe¿s inexperience with its 2:35:1 aspect ratio, in retrospect, is the stumbling block from which the film never recovers. As an audience we are treated to drawn out battle scenes (that are thrillingly photographed), as well as lavish spectacle. But the look and feel of the film is very stoic and theatrical, like early films based on the works of Shakespeare. Robert Taylor, usually so natural, is, on this occasion, uncomfortable and stiff as Lancelot. Mel Ferrer fairs only slightly better as King Arthur. Ava Gardner is wasted as Gueneviere. If you don¿t know the story already, Gueneviere steps out on Arthur with Lancelot, causing the noble pursuit of Camelot to implode. The sets are excessively artificial looking and rear projection photography becomes glaringly obvious in long shots. Over all, for its historical context in the early days of widescreen film, more than for its overall entertainment value, 'Knights' is a worthwhile movie. Warner Home Video has given us a generally good looking print. No attempt has been made to remove age related artifacts from the negative. Overall, the quality of the transfer is very smooth though, at times, it can seem somewhat digitally harsh. Exterior footage tends to suffer from a considerable amount of film grain while interiors are better balanced. Black levels are perhaps a bit weak and fine details are lost in darker scenes. Close ups look gorgeous. Long shots suffer from pixelization. Fades between scenes suffer from a sudden grainy transition that was customary for all early Cinemascope film stock of this period. The audio is stereo surround and amply provided for considering the limitations in the original recording. Extras include Mel Ferrer¿s comment on the production, a movietone trailer and the film's original theatrical trailer. This is not a bad movie but it remains an incredibly dated one. Nevertheless, 'Knights of the Round Table' offers up a good example of vintage Cinemascope film making from the 1950's.

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