Recently I learned that Kirk Douglas turned 100 last December. We all know that Kirk is a legend, but I did not realise that he is still a living legend. So, in honour of his greatness I decided to seek out a Kirk film, and found this 1958 Viking tale on Dailymotion.
The story is pretty typical stuff filled with revenge, romance, treachery, and merry Viking banquets. The Kirk plays the son of a Viking King, a rather aggressive fellow with no scruples. Early in the film he was eye-gouged by a hawk and lost one eye. I was impressed by the job makeup did on his eye, not bad for 1958.
The King, Ragnar, is played by a very merry Ernest Borgnine, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Brian Blessed based his role of Richard IV in Black Adder on Ernest’s performance… very funny.
“Drink, be merry, and be rambunctious! Hahahaha!”
Also starring was Tony Curtis as the hero of the story who is destined to become King of some part of England (England in those days was a bunch of mini kingdoms). And rounding off the excellent cast was Janet Leigh who I did not recognise until she screamed, the exact same scream she did in Psycho.
The whole gang. Remember this was taken 59 years ago.
It was filmed in Norway, which looked fantastic, at a great castle in France (being passed off an an English castle), and at a fiord in Croatia.
They also built some really good looking Viking ships. There was one great scene where the ships were making their way back into the beautiful home harbour after a successful raid on England, and the Viking crew set the oars out so that they were horizontally fixed. The crew then took turns running along the oars from the back to the front, most of them falling into the water before making it. But not The Kirk of course, he did it a couple of times without falling in (no stuntman, Kirk don’t need no stuntman).
There were some good battle scenes too. The first was when the Vikings took off to England to kidnap the fair maiden who was to marry the evil King. They intercepted her ship and had a good ‘ol sea battle with spears, arrows, and axes which continued as they boarded the English ship. The final battle scene where Tony Curtis and The Kirk fight it out with swords on the top of the French castle was also well done, with both of them doing most of the stunts. Quite often in sword or light sabre battles you will see one actor pause as he lets the other actor do his part, the choreography is good, but the timing is off. But not with The Kirk and Tony Curtis, they were really going all out.
A lovely place for a battle to the death.
So, obviously I enjoyed this one. The story was nothing original, but it was entertaining and fun. The Kirk, Tony, Ernest, and Janet were all brilliant. And if this was to be remade today I would imagine The Clooney, The Cruiser, The Shat, and Scarlett Johansson respectively taking on the main roles, but really, it does not need a remake.
This film was actually made by The Kirk’s (real name Issur Danielovitch) own production company, The Kirk don’t need no big movie studio. Here is an interview with him about the film. And needless to say, he is now on the MBMS Page of Fame.
Date watched: February 3rd
Film count 2017: 26