Mark Twain's wit was oft demonstrated in his short stories and novels, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
certainly qualifies as one of his most popular. The tale's so well-liked that various renditions--including a musical comedy, an animated Bugs Bunny version, and two kid pics--have been turned into films and telefilms (many of which should be considered "inspired by" instead of straight translations). This Disney film takes the basics of Twain's charmer and turns it into the story of a scientist whose twin-looking humanoid
will be the first to try out a faster-than-the-speed-of-light rocket ship. When the humanoid becomes afraid, the scientist climbs on board to comfort it and the ship accidentally rockets off--and into King Arthur's Camelot. Dennis Dugan, an underrated comic actor (best remembered as Richie Brockelman introduced on The Rockford Files
), is the likable lead, as well as his robotic alter ego. Ron Moody is a wickedly creepy Merlin, Kenneth More is an elegant, if older, King Arthur, and English actress Sheila White (Oliver!
) is a sweet Alisande. Despite its 1979 production date, the film has a surprisingly timeless look. Certainly, the low-budget technology can't compare to today's CGI miracles, but this film is more about ingenuity and resourcefulness, and it gets those messages across well. --N.F. Mendoza