Knights of the Round Table (1953): Thorpe’s Oscar Nominated Epic in CinemaScope, Starring Robert Taylor and Eva Gardner

MGM’s first CinemaScope production was the lavishly mounted historical epic Knights of the Round Table, directed by Richard Thorpe, which may explain why it became the ninth most commercially popular picture of the year.

Robert Taylor and Ava Gardner are at their most handsome and the height of their popularity in this version of Lancelot and Queen Guinevere.  King Arthur is played by Mel Ferrer.

The movie has not aged well, and the tale is too verbose, with the actors declaiming arther than acting their parts.  But by standards of the time, it was a big-budget production with good technical values, especially art direction and sound (which were Oscar-nominated).

Arthur’s efforts to create a perfect society in Camelot are compromised when Guinevere falls in love with trusted knight Sir Lancelot. However, the ambitious Mordred (Stanley Baker) uses his knowledge of the Queen’s feelings to destroy Camelot and King Arthur’s round table.

Most of the story in “Knights of the Round Table” is taken from Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Art Direction-Set Decoration: Alfred Junge, Hans Peters, John Jarvis

Sound Recording: A.W. Watkins

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The Art Direction Oscar went to Fox’s “The Rob,” the very first Hollywood picture to be shot on CinemaScopr.   The Sound Oscar was won by “From Here to Eternity,” which swept most of the Oscars that year.

Running Time: 115 Minutes.

Released January 15, 1954

On DVD: July 1, 2003