Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

THE MAGIC SWORD

Sir George faces the dragon while the princess looks on 
THE MAGIC SWORD (1962). Director. Bert I. Gordon.

In medieval days, young George (Gary Lockwood) is smitten with a princess, Helene (Anne Helm) whom he has never actually met but only spied upon via the magic of his stepmother, the kindly witch Sybil (Estelle Winwood). When Helene is kidnapped bu the evil sorcerer Lodac (Basil Rathbone), he makes it clear that he intends to feed her to his dragon for revenge. Aided by six revivified knights of old -- and hampered by Sir Branton (Liam Sullivan) who wants the princess for himself and is secretly in league with Lodac -- George sets out to rescue Helene. But he and the others must contend with seven somewhat ill-defined "curses" before and after they reach Lodac's castle. There's a hairy giant ogre; a hideous witch (Maila Nurmi/Vampira) who at first resembles a beautiful woman; cavern ghosts; and the like. In Lodac's castle there are pin-headed ghouls and a host of friendly little people. Then there's the dragon, an impressive beast that has two heads and breathes fire. Armed with a somewhat bigger budget than usual, Gordon ("Mr. BIG" of The Amazing Colossal Man and The Cyclops) has fashioned an amusing and entertaining sword and sorcery flick that benefits from good performances (especially from Rathbone, Winwood and Lockwood), an effective score by Richard Markowitz (which has an especially good opening theme), and a screenplay that is delightfully ghoulish at times. As for the FX, let's say it's a pity Ray Harryhausen couldn't have animated the assorted creatures, but Gordon and his wife, Flora, don't do too badly given the circumstances. The dragon has limited movement but is certainly well-designed. Liam Sullivan was primarily a television actor who amassed over one hundred credits. 

Verdict: Good and gruesome. ***.

2 comments:

angelman66 said...

I remember this one, loved it as a kid. I was a fan of this genre, as well as all the Sinbad films...
- Chris

William said...

I loved the Sinbad movies as well, especially 7th Voyage of Sinbad and Captain Sindbad with Guy Williams.