Friday, March 20, 2020


Princess Helene (Anne Helm) is to be sacrificed to the two-headed dragon 

THE MAGIC SWORD (1962) starring Gary Lockwood, Anne Helm, Estelle Winwood and Basil Rathbone. Directed by Bert I. Gordon.

A fun, amiable fantasy movie many have probably seen as a kid and loved it then and might still enjoy it today. I won't write an extensive movie review since the movie itself is pretty much straight-forward. A hero, Sir George (Gary Lockwood) has to save a princess (Anne Helm). He acquires a magic sword and with a small crew of knights, goes on the quest. His mother is a sorceress, Sybil (Estelle Winwood), who helps him throughout the story. The villain, Lodac, is played by Basil Rathbone.

I've seen this movie several times since I was a kid. It's still fun to watch but it is borderline 'kiddie' stuff even though there are some dark moments here and there.

Gary Lockwood is an interesting choice for the role of Sir George. His American accent pretty much clashes with the setting and other actors. His style of acting, sorta the James Dean school of acting, is also at odds with the more classical style from the rest of the cast. Even so, I like Lockwood in this role. It's obvious he liked his role and he had fun making the movie, which adds so much to the amiable tone of the movie. I can't see anyone else playing Sir George. Anne Helm has a lot of screen time with Rathbone.  I'm not too familiar with her since she was mainly a TV actress during the 1960s. Her first screen appearance is the 'Bathing Beauty' cliché.

The veterans steal the show, with Basil relishing his role as the baddie. And Estelle Winwood is a hoot as the goofy but determined witch. Their sparring is one of the movie's highlights.

Gary Lockwood as Sir George. One of his most memorable roles.

Basil Rathbone and Estelle Winwood compete against each other. It's wizard vs witch. This battle between is one the best part of the movie.

Villain Lodac watches as the princess and hero show their love for each other. Haven't we seen this scene in plenty of other movies? 

Nice scene!

For a such a small movie, the technical aspects are pretty good. It has every kind of special effects, including makeup, masks, small and large practical effects. There's the miniature scenes with the little people carrying the sword. It's quite amazing how much visual effects stuff crammed in it. Are they all effective? Not really. Some are stand-outs (dragon and big practical sets) but some of the makeup effects and optical ones show their age. For instance, the makeup of the Ogre (Jack Kosslyn) is clearly dated but the optical effects of him being a giant monster fighting the smaller knights on horseback is very effective so, in the end, it doesn't really matter.

The use of color is interesting. Lotsa garish reds and primary colours blended with the greyish medieval settings.

A lot of the action has Lodac or Sybil watching events via magic mirrors or projections, as if they're watching stuff on TV.

The movie was shot almost entirely in a studio, though there are some exterior scenes, which look decidedly like California and not some setting somewhere in Europe. And that monkey seems out of place but kids will like the chimp.

I have 2 versions, the standard DVD release and this new Blu-ray print. I wrote a brief review of the Blu-ray release at BY THE GODS!

7 out of 10.

1 comment:

Scott Ochiltree said...

Too childish and does not take the genre seriously in my view.

Nevertheless Basil Rathbone always makes a perfect villain.