A half-century later, Mark Twain's yarn still doesn't seem like an ideal vehicle for Bing Crosby, and Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke certainly wrote better songs than those offered up here. Still, this droll 1949 musical, like its star, has an easygoing charm and affability that'll win over young and old alike. Der Bingle plays Hank, who wakes up in A.D. 528, rousted by palooka-like Sir Sagramore (William Bendix).
At Camelot, not even Hank's impending doom--not to mention the temporal disconnect--can stop him from making eyes at Alisande (Rhonda Fleming). Codgerly, chronically allergic Arthur (Cedric Hardwicke) is impressed with Hank's hubris and dubs him Sir Boss. Problems arise when Hank woos Alisande to Sir Lancelot's ire, while Merlin (Murvyn Vye) has it in for virtually everyone.
A too-convenient deus ex machina and truncated finale mute the happy ending. The story and the performances are understated amid the pomp of the lavish production values (Ray Rennahan's vivid camerawork handily takes it all in), but in these days of virulently overheated storytelling (even in family films), the casual nature of the work here seems a distinct virtue. --David Kronke