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Richard Thorpe
Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine
Writing Credits:
Noel Langley

A knight seeks to free the captive King Richard and put him back on the throne.

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 107 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 11/30/2021

• Tom & Jerry Animated Short
• Trailer


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Ivanhoe [Blu-Ray] (1952)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (January 24, 2022)

According to Bart Simpson, Ivanhoe offers a story about a Russian farmer and his tool. Because I doubt Bart’s account, I decided to give the 1952 film adaptation of Sir Walter Scott’s 1819 novel a look.

Set in England circa the 12th century, King Richard the Lionhearted (Norman Wooland) disappears after he returns from the Crusades. Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor) learns that King Richard resides in an Austrian prison.

However, Prince John (Guy Rolfe) now sits on the English throne and digs this situation too much to do anything to free Richard. Along with Robin of Locksley (Harold Warrender), Ivanhoe strives to bring Richard back to the throne.

So no Russians or farm implements?

Simpsons allusions aside, I knew Ivanhoe had nothing to do with the topics Bart discussed. However, I didn’t know that it connected to the Robin Hood legend until I got this Blu-ray.

Alas, any hopes that Ivanhoe would compare favorably with the better Robin Hood tales failed to bear fruit. Though a professional affair from start to finish, Ivanhoe tends to feel oddly lifeless.

Given the cast at hand, this becomes a real surprise. In addition to Taylor, we find notables such as Elizabeth Taylor, George Sanders and Joan Fontaine.

None manages to do much with their parts – not even the usually reliable Sanders. With a role as Ivanhoe’s main foe, Sir De Bois-Guilbert seems ready-made for Sanders’ brand of cool cynicism, but the character feels strangely forgettable.

As our lead, Robert Taylor feels generic and faceless. Coincidentally, I recently watched him in 1958’s Party Girl.

As a conflicted attorney who represents gangsters, Taylor provided a wholly terrific performance in that flick. Unfortunately, he brings little nuance to Ivanhoe, for he feels like little more than a bland Hero Figure.

Fontaine and Elizabeth Taylor exist as nothing more than pretty baubles. Of the whole cast, only Rolfe’s appropriately sinister John stands out as memorable.

Ivanhoe also comes with a strangely sluggish story. Oh, it punctuates the tale with dollops of action – a jousting match here, a castle assault there – but none of it provides much in terms of actual thrills.

Instead, these scenes seem perfunctory. No one appears to invest much in them, so the various conflicts come across as though the filmmakers included them solely out of obligation.

Ivanhoe does look good, with appealing Technicolor photography and a luxurious sense of production design. The movie clearly enjoyed a strong crew behind it.

Unfortunately, the end result just lacks much energy or narrative punch. Despite the potential for ample drama, Ivanhoe feels flat.

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

Ivanhoe appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a nice presentation, especially given the film’s age.

In terms of sharpness, the movie usually demonstrated appealing delineation. A few shots seemed somewhat soft, but those issues occurred infrequently, so the majority of the flick looked concise and accurate.

No issues with jagged edges or shimmering materialized, and no edge enhancement became apparent. Grain remained appropriate, and no specks, marks or other defects showed up at any time in this fresh presentation.

Colors were strong. A Technicolor production that embraced a variety of tones, the hues tended to be vivid and full.

Blacks seemed deep and dense without too much heaviness. Shadow detail worked similarly well, as dimly-lit shots were appropriately clear and thick. I found little about which to complain here and thought the Blu-ray brought the movie to life in a positive manner.

The DTS-HD MA monaural audio of Ivanhoe appeared fine for its era, and speech was more than adequate. The lines showed age-related thinness, but they were always perfectly intelligible and without edginess. Some looping made the dialogue feel unnatural at times, though.

Effects became a minor aspect of the track, and they resembled the dialogue. Those elements lacked much depth but they were without notable problems.

Music was acceptable for its age, as the score tended to be a bit tinny. There wasn’t much range to the music, but again, that stemmed from the limitations of the very old source. This became a perfectly acceptable mix for its vintage.

In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc includes a Tom & Jerry animated short from 1952 called The Two Mouseketeers. In 17th century France, our favorite cat and mouse trade swords over a banquet Tom defends. It provides a cute reel.

Given that it earned an Oscar Best Picture nomination, I expected more from Ivanhoe than it could give. While the movie offers a professional production, it lacks much real drama or excitement. The Blu-ray comes with very good picture, appropriate audio and minor bonus materials. This winds up as a forgettable adventure.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.5 Stars Number of Votes: 2
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