Adventure / Drama / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 81%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 64%
IMDb Rating 6.8 10 8834

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Finlay Currie as Cedric
Robert Brown as Castle Guard Yelling 'Horseman Approaching from the South!'
Francis De Wolff as Front De Boeuf
George Sanders as De Bois-Guilbert

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer 9 / 10

a wonderful medieval romp

If I were judging this movie on historical merit, I would give it a 1--or less, if it was possible. "Good King Richard" was not a good king but a maniac who love war and killing to a degree never seen before or since in English history. However, if you ignore this (which you must do to enjoy this film or The Aventures of Robin Hood) and just assume ALL the characters are fictitious, then you will be treated to an adventure film with few peers.

Robert Taylor is surprisingly manly and butch as Wilfred of Ivanhoe and his main rival, George Sanders is slimy and evil--much like his later character, Shere Khan the Tiger (from Disney's Jungle Book).

His love interests were a very young and beautiful Liz Taylor (Rebecca)and the older Joan Fontaine (Lady Rowena) If the story has a shortcoming, it is WHY Ivanhoe loves Rowena and chooses her over Rebecca.

Regardless of my minor quibbles, I love this movie and have seen it several times. The scope, excitement and romance make it a winner.

PS--I have to laugh every time I see the character Wamba the fool--particularly when the master uses Wamba's hair as a napkin. Ewwww.

Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird 9 / 10

Wonderful film, with only one flaw, other than that, a good quality underrated film!

I really wasn't expecting Ivanhoe to be as good as it was, it was very entertaining and is definitely underrated. I have only one complaint of this movie. While he gives a very spirited performance in the title role, Robert Taylor, in comparison to the other actors in the film, is rather dull, and perhaps too old for the character. Putting that discrepancy aside, you do have Elizabeth Taylor at her loveliest as Rebecca, before she started ruining herself with surgery and what have you, and the equally lovely Joan Fontaine as Rowena. As villains, you have Guy Rolfe and George Sanders, and both of them were superb, making their characters both suave and menacing. There is a wonderful music score, that almost sweeps over the breathtaking cinematography and spirited set pieces. The film is also aided by some colourful sets and costumes, a good script and some detailed direction by Richard Thorpe. All in all, a very good film, with a 9/10. Bethany Cox.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 9 / 10

A Classic Story Made Into a Classic Film

Of the four films that Robert Taylor called his "iron jockstrap movies" Ivanhoe is probably the best. Filmed on location in Great Britain with a classic mixed cast of American and British players, Ivanhoe is a film for those of us who like their heroes strong and true and their causes noble ones.

It's a noble cause in every sense of the word. King Richard the Lion Hearted is held captive by Duke Leopold of Austria on a return from the Crusades. Leopold's demanding a hefty sum and Prince John who is regent over in England ain't in no big hurry to pay it. So it is one Wilfred of Ivanhoe, a Saxon knight on Crusade with the Norman King, who takes up the burden of raising that ransom.

As Walter Scott wrote the story, Ivanhoe is a pretty virtuous fellow who takes those chivalry vows quite seriously. If this had been made at 20th Century Fox Tyrone Power would have been Ivanhoe. But MGM had a perfect actor for Ivanhoe in Robert Taylor, especially with the success Quo Vadis had previously.

Joan Fontaine is the prim and proper Lady Rowena and Elizabeth Taylor is the lovely Rebecca ready to be martyred for her Jewish faith. She's the key to this whole film. She's crushing big time on Ivanhoe, but it is Norman knight Bois Guilbert who has it bad for her.

George Sanders who plays Bois Guilbert has the most complex role in the film. He's genuinely in love with Liz Taylor, but all she sees is the oppressor of her people in him. Of course by his reasoning the Normans are enjoying the spoils of conquest in England which they've been doing since 1066 even though it's over 120 years at this point. Nevertheless he's a brave knight and a worthy opponent of Ivanhoe.

Guy Rolfe as Prince John has an interesting part as well. Except in a Doctor Who episode I've never seen a good characterization of Prince later King John. Guy Rolfe is no exception. When Elizabeth Taylor is on trial for witchcraft and sorcery and Ivanhoe challenges the verdict of the court with a wager of battle, Rolfe knows how Sanders feels about Taylor. Yet in an act of supreme cruelty he chooses him as the court's champion. I suppose the idea was for Rolfe to get some kind of sadistic amusement at Sanders's discomfort. It costs Rolfe dearly.

Other good performances come from those four reliable players Finlay Currie as Cedric of Ivanhoe, Felix Aylmer as Isaac of York, Robert Douglas as Hugh DeBracy, and Emlyn Williams as Womba the Squire.

In that 19th century romantic age of literature Walter Scott did much to elevate the ideals of chivalry to what we popularly accept them today. Of course back in the day those knights weren't all that chivalrous all the time.

But this film heeds to that bit of philosophy about American popular myths, "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend."

Or film it as the case may be.

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