The Vikings

116 minutes 2013

Kirk Douglas bought the rights to Edison Marshall's novel The Viking in hope of producing and starring in the most authentic film possible about medieval life; director Richard Fleischer, for his part, spent over a year in preproduction, working with historians in Norway (where much of the film was shot) to incorporate all the latest research. None of that would matter, though, if this 1958 adventure saga weren't also spectacular stuff, worth seeing just for Jack Cardiff's Technicolor cinematography. Fleischer—a versatile director whose output ranged from compact noirs (The Narrow Margin) to elaborate fantasies (Fantastic Voyage)—maintains a fluid sense of action that sets this apart from the lumbering sword-and-sandal productions of the era. His depiction of medieval brutality is forthright and unsentimental; very little here registers as camp. With Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, and Ernest Borgnine.

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