Inspired by love for his new bride, Guenevere, King Arthur establishes the Round Table. But its ideals are compromised when the queen begins an affair with the bravest of the knights, Sir Lancelot.
Hollywood had always been in awe of Broadway. Why else would a director with so little cinematic imagination as Joshua Logan be entrusted with three such prestigious musicals as South Pacific, Camelot and Paint Your Wagon. Influenced by the Russian theatrical theorist, Constantin Stanislavsky, Logan always placed greater emphasis on text and performance than he did on visuals. So, it's a wonder that the Academy bestowed Oscars on John Truscott for his art direction and costume design, as his meticulously recreated neverland was scarcely seen behind the insistent close-ups with which Logan chose to tell this tale of betrayal and broken ideals.
The original stage show had totalled 873 performances, with Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet in the leads. But Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe's last musical collaboration had never recovered structurally from the need to trim it down from its initial five-hour running time. Consequently, it lacked the fluidity of their earlier work and while songs like `How to Handle a Woman' and `If I Ever Would Leave You' were well integrated into the storyline, they were far less memorable than the hits from such recent outings as My Fair Lady and Gigi. However, its run coincided with the emergence of the new Camelot being formed around John F. Kennedy in the White House and this cachet helped ensure its success. But that new age optimism had long since evanesced and America was beset by the social unrest provoked by Vietnam and the Civil Rights movement by the time Logan's lacklustre film version was released. Richard Harris brought a melancholic vulnerability to Arthur and he delivered his songs with unassuming passion. But off-screen lovers Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero (who was dubbed by Gene Merlina) were woefully miscast and the $18 million production became one of the biggest commercial disasters of the 1960s.
Choppy and uneven musical with not very memorable songs and some dire miscasting.