***/**** Image A- Sound A Extras B-
starring Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero, David Hemmings
screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner, based on his play and The Once and Future King by T.H. White
directed by Joshua Logan
by Jefferson Robbins Joshua Logan's Camelot sucker-punched audiences, I suspect, and did so in slow-motion. Maybe the source musical, by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, did as well. Mention the legend of King Arthur and our first notions are of magic and righteous triumph; we forget the betrayal and Fall. The overall air of the film is stabs of paradise framed by battle and tears, with most of the misery encroaching from offstage. Yet when the King's dream finally dies, it dies viscerally. Find late in Camelot Arthur (Richard Harris) hiding from the collapse of his new social order in the wooded bower where he once studied with his vanished tutor Merlyn. He imagines soaring as a bird, as he did while Merlyn's pupil, but his spirit-animal is interrupted by a hunter. It's Mordred (David Hemmings), the fruit of Arthur's forgotten sins, and his entry with bow and arrow reasserts the brutality that will pull down the kingdom.