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Joshua Logan
Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Franco Nero, David Hemmings, Lionel Jeffries, Laurence Naismith, Pierre Olaf, Estelle Winwood
Writing Credits:
Alan Jay Lerner (based on the play "Camelot" book by), T.H. White (from "The Once and Future King"), Alan Jay Lerner

A whole new world of magnificent musical entertainment.

The story of the marriage of England's King Arthur to Guinevere is played out amid the pagentry of Camelot. The plot of illegitimate Modred to gain the throne and Guinevere's growing attachment to Sir Lancelot, whom she at first abhors, threaten to topple Arthur and destroy his "round table" of knights who would use their might for right.

Box Office:
$13 million.
Domestic Gross
$31.102 million.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 180 min.
Price: $35.99
Release Date: 4/24/2012

• Audio Commentary With Film Critic Stephen Farber
• “Camelot: Falling Kingdoms” Documentary
• “The Story of Camelot” Featurette
• “The World Premiere of Camelot” Featurette
• Theatrical Trailers
• Hardcover Book
• CD Sampler


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


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Camelot [Blu-Ray Book] (1967)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 26, 2012)

By 1967, the big-screen movie musical had entered its decline, but studios continued to produce them as “tent pole” offerings. In this category comes Camelot, an adaptation of the 1960 Lerner/Loewe Broadway show.

Itself based on the legend of King Arthur, we start with Arthur (Richard Harris) on the verge of battle. At this crucial moment, his aide and wizard Merlyn (Laurence Naismith) urges him to look back to what brought him to this point.

With that, we launch into an extended flashback that starts with the day Arthur met Guinevere (Vanessa Redgrave). As part of an arranged marriage, Arthur and Guinevere don’t first see each other until the wedding day. Despite those awkward circumstances, they immediately take to each other and find themselves in love.

From there we see Arthur’s efforts to unite England under his rule via a gathering of knights. Thus are the Knights of the Round Table born to create a happy kingdom for all.

Arthur’s efforts attract the attention of French Sir Lancelot (Franco Nero), a knight who deems himself to be the strongest, bravest and generally most awesome of all. He heads to England to join Arthur’s crew, and thus does conflict eventually ensue. While Arthur and Lancelot become best friends, after some time the knight develops a love affair with Guinevere – and the potential collapse of Camelot.

Despite my general disdain for movie musicals, I held out some hope that Camelot might entertain me. For one, I rather liked 1964’s My Fair Lady, the then-most-recent big screen adaptation of a Lerner/Loewe show. If Lerner/Loewe could make me enjoy a musical version of Pygmalion, maybe they’d strike gold again.

In addition, the source tale boasted potential. The Arthur legend has endured so long for good reason: it’s packed with drama, romance and adventure. That alone should’ve been enough to keep me entertained for much – if not all – of the film’s three-hour running time.

Alas, I was unable to find much positive on display in the turgid, slow Camelot. Rather than focus on the more exciting, magical aspects of the Arthur legend, Camelot prefers to cast itself as a mopey melodrama. The tale concentrates on the ill-fated love triangle to the exclusion of nearly all else.

This reduces a memorable legend to romantic pap. Occasional flourishes occur, but these quickly dissipate. For instance, when we meet Arthur’s illegitimate son Mordred (David Hemmings) in the film’s second half, we hope that his conniving presence will add flair to the proceedings. Unfortunately, this fails to occur; Mordred gets surprisingly little to do, so the ennui continues. Three hours is a long time for any movie to run, and Camelot really makes you feel all 180 of those minutes.

The performers can’t manage to do much with the material. Unlike My Fair Lady - which brought back significant parts of its main cast – we find none of the original Broadway actors in Camelot. I suspect that most act as steps down, though I’d guess that the shift from the regal Richard Burton to the campy Richard Harris creates the biggest drop.

I honestly have no idea why the producers thought Harris would be a good match for this role. At no point does Harris manage to feel like a king. Instead, he’s fey, flouncy and forgettable. He overacts his way through the film and lacks the requisite depth necessary for the complex role.

Much of the time, it feels like the three leads all think they’re in different movies. As noted, Harris tends to camp it up, while Nero never shows much substance; he seems big, broad and blustery the whole way. Redgrave goes for a much more natural take on her part and offers the only good performance of the lot; she’s the sole participant who actually shows range and real emotion, which means she creates the only strong work of the bunch.

One good lead performance among three can’t save a movie, and there’s not much else about Camelot to make it entertaining. Too long, too slow and too darned lethargic, the film takes a classic legend and turns it into just another weepy romance.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Camelot appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. This was an inconsistent presentation, though I suspect most of the concerns stemmed from the source material.

Sharpness became one of these inconsistent elements. Though much of the movie exhibited good – and often great – definition, more than a few exceptions occurred. Oddly, many of these involved close-ups – and they’d come in the middle of otherwise crystal-clear scenes. We’d go from a razor sharp wide shot to a blurry close-up. Was this an attempt at “glamour photography” for the leads? Maybe, but it became perplexing and distracting.

Still, I thought the majority of the flick demonstrated strong delineation, and I didn’t see any signs of jagged edges or moiré effects along the way. I noticed no edge haloes, and I didn’t witness the ill effects of digital noise reduction, as the image remained film-like. As for print flaws, a couple of minor specks cropped up along the way, but that was it. Grain got rather heavy at times, but that was another source problem; for instance, the heavy grain around the 1:37:00 mark came from the use of optical zooms and was inevitable without the use of artificial “clean-up” techniques.

In terms of palette, Camelot usually opted for fairly warm tones. It tended toward a somewhat autumnal feel but still found room for a mix of bright colors as well. These appeared vivid and full.

As was the case with sharpness, blacks were erratic. At times, they appeared deep and tight, but other occasions showed them to be somewhat dull and inky. They tended toward the more positive side of the street, but the inconsistencies occurred.

The same was true for shadow detail, especially early in the flick. The opening segment that preceded the virtually film-long flashback was a true mess; it appeared murky and lost Arthur in the shadowy morass. That cleared up pretty quickly, though, and most of the movie displayed low-light scenes with reasonable to good delineation.

With all these complaints, how did I justify a “B” rating for the image? For one, so much of the movie looked great that I thought the flaws became negated to a degree. For another, as I noted earlier, I strongly suspect that the concerns were part of the source material and the Blu-ray simply replicated sins committed in 1967. While I’d like the film to look tighter and clearer, this was what they shot, and the Blu-ray duplicated it in a positive manner.

I felt pleased with the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. Not surprisingly, the soundfield mainly stuck to the forward channels. In the front I heard solid stereo separation for the music, and effects seemed to spread nicely across the spectrum. Placement of audio appeared forced and a bit too “speaker specific”, but the sounds blended acceptably and even demonstrated some decent panning at times. The surrounds generally presented light reinforcement of the score, though they also could kick in with some light ambience.

Audio quality was dated but it seemed more than acceptable. Dialogue sounded somewhat thin but was fairly distinct and accurate without edginess or problems related to intelligibility. Effects also lacked dynamics but they seemed clear and clean and didn’t show signs of distortion. Music was the strongest component, as the score and songs showed nice range and vivacity. Nothing here dazzled, but the track was pretty good given its age.

When we shift to the set’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from film critic/historian Stephen Farber. He offers a running, screen-specific look at the original stage production and its adaptation for the screen, cast and performances, story/character topics, sets, costumes and visual design, songs and score, other films about the subject matter, and additional reflections connected to the movie.

While Farber manages to give us a decent array of thoughts about Camelot, he doesn’t provide enough to keep us occupied for three hours. Granted, I don’t expect someone to speak constantly during such a long movie, but Farber fades away too often – and he doesn’t deliver a lot of meat even when he does speak. Although you’ll learn about the film during the commentary, there’s not a lot of return on investment here, as the amount of information doesn’t seem worth the time it takes to listen to the whole track.

Next comes a documentary called Camelot: Falling Kingdoms. It runs 29 minutes, 59 seconds and provides notes from former WB head Jack Warner’s grandson Gregory Orr, Post-War Hollywood 1946-1962 author Drew Casper, How to Write a Screenplay author Mark Evan Schwartz, The Sound of Broadway Music author Steven Suskin, Broadway Musicals author Ken Bloom, NYU Steinhardt Music Associate Professor Meg Bussert, and Hollywood and the Left author Steven Ross.

“Kingdoms” looks at the status of the movie industry in the 1960s and how the decline of the studio system affected Camelot. We follow the film’s development and path to the screen as well as details about crew and cast, songs and score, changes between stage and screen, production design and costumes, other aspects of the production and the movie’s reception.

“Kingdoms” tends to move a little too briskly, which leaves it with a feeling of glossiness and a lack of depth. That said, it manages to provide a reasonable amount of information about the film. It touches on the appropriate subjects and doesn’t often repeat material from the commentary, so it’s a fairly efficient half an hour.

For a period piece, we get the nine-minute, 45-second The Story of Camelot. In it, we mostly take a tour of the set and see behind the scenes footage. It’s promotional in nature, of course, but it has enough decent shots from the production to make it worthwhile.

Another archival component arrives with The World Premiere of Camelot. With this 29-minute, four-second program, we go to the aforementioned Times Square premiere of the film, where we get some “Red Carpet” comments from director Joshua Logan, composer Alan Jay Lerner, producer Jack L. Warner, production and costume designer John Truscott, and actor Richard Harris. We also visit the set for a few behind the scenes glimpses.

Of course, no one should expect anything especially meaty from “Premiere”. Like “Story”, it exists for promotional purposes, and it’s consistently fluffy and frothy. Nonetheless, it’s great to hear from the principals back in 1967, and the archival footage adds some quality material. Throw in some campy clothing ads and this becomes a fun addition to the set.

In addition to five Theatrical Trailers, some additional materials appear. A four-song CD Soundtrack Sampler gives us the movie’s renditions of “I Wonder What the King Is Doing Tonight”, “Camelot and the Wedding Ceremony”, “How to Handle a Woman” and “If Ever I Should Leave You”. I guess the CD adds a little value, but it’s a bit of a tease; anyone who likes it will probably want to have the full soundtrack instead.

The package also includes a hardcover book. It features essays called “The Stuff of Legends” and “Musical Majesty”, biographies of the three lead actors, trivia, production photos, ads and art. I like these books and think this is another satisfying one.

Camelot came out during the era in which movie musicals waned, and it’s not hard to see why. Long, slow and not very effective, the film offers some lush visuals but lacks consistency or much to make it endearing. The Blu-ray comes with erratic but usually strong visuals and audio as well as a reasonably good roster of bonus materials. Fans of Camelot should be happy with this release, but it seems unlikely to convert many to its cause.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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