Director: Richard Fleischer
“Hands up if you’ve read the script and think it’s awesome.”
I first watched this in high school since apparently it had educational value. Supposedly a historical epic, it’s neither historical nor particularly epic. The thing is, it should
be epic, given the subject matter and plot outline, but it just never quite gets there and instead the story – featuring conflict between Vikings and Northumbrians, a hidden heir, long-lost brothers, and various other tropes – ends up feeling pretty silly. The performances aren’t terrible but they’re not good either; there’s a fair bit of hamminess and over-acting. I usually like these actors (especially Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis) more. The exception is a near-unrecognisable Ernest Borgnine, who hams it up as the fabled Ragnar in a way that works perfectly. A couple of other pluses: the battle scenes are fairly reasonable for 1958, and there’s some lovely scenery shot quite well.