Among the most exciting of MGM swashbucklers, Richard Thorpe's 1952 Ivanhoe
stars Robert Taylor as the medieval hero of Sir Walter Scott's novel. Returning to England from the Third Crusades, Ivanhoe is steadfast in his determination to raise the ransom for the captured King Richard (Norman Wooland), but the effort is full of peril. First is Ivanhoe's reunion with his estranged father (Finlay Currie), a Saxon who hates the Norman king and refuses to give his son the money. Then there's Ivanhoe's unpopular rescue of a wealthy Jew, Isaac (Felix Aylmer), from anti-Semites, and the subsequent decision by Isaac's beautiful daughter, Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor), to pay Ivanhoe's entry fee in a tournament. (The strapped knight seeks the tourney's cash prize.) Wait, it gets worse: two of Ivanhoe's closest associates (played by George Sanders and Robert Douglas) collude with Richard's evil brother, Prince John (Guy Rolfe), to discredit their friend and steal away Rebecca and another woman, Rowena (Joan Fontaine)--who also fancies Ivanhoe--for themselves. Yes, the situation looks grim, but surprise appearances by a couple of legendary hero types toward the end help level the playing field. Nonstop adventure to make one swoon, Ivanhoe
is a gorgeous treat and reasonably faithful to the Age of Chivalry. Things worked out so well for this film, Thorpe and Taylor got together the next year to make Knights of the Round Table
. --Tom Keogh
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.