A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949) – Tay Garnett

 

So far, my purchase of the Sci-Fi Chronicles book has been well worth it, I’ve watched some great films, have added books to my bedside pile, rediscovered favorites and stumbled across new ones… like this one. Based ever so loosely on the tale by Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain himself, this time travel tale from 1949 sees Bing Crosby crossing swords, singing and making eyes at the ladies back in Merry Olde England.

It’s 1912, and Bing is Hank Martin, a blacksmith visiting with Lord Pendragon (Cedric Hardwicke) in England, with whom he shares an incredible story, as it seems he has impossible knowledge of King Arthur and his knights of Camelot. He relates a tale of how with a conk on the head, a Blacksmith’s Guidebook and Almanac in his pocket and a song on his lips, he awoke to find himself in Engladn of yesteryear, 528 A.D. to be precise.

When he wakes up he in England, which surprisingly looks a lot like the California countryside, he is captured by the rather goofy Sir Sagramore (William Bendix). He finds himself in Camelot amongst knights, Arthur (also Hardwicke) and a lovely Lady, Alisande La Carteloise (Rhonda Fleming), or Sandy for short. The two become smitten, but she is betrothed to Lancelot (Henry Wilcoxon). He also quickly makes enemies with Merlin (Murvyn Vye) who wants Hank put to death. A little modern-day science saves the day however.

bing

Once he’s proven he’s a better sorcerer, he sets himself up with a little blacksmith shop, takes Sagramore as his help, and takes the title Sir Boss.

This all makes Merlin more upset, and he informs Lancelot of the romance brewing between Sandy and Hank, leading to a hysterical joust sequence. Things are even more enjoyable when Arthur, Hank and Sagramore hit the road to see what the kingdom is actually like, travelling as vagabonds, so as not to be recognized. This of course allows Merlin to seize power, and our heroes end up jailed, and things look pretty dire all over!

But with swingin’ numbers, and the introduction of the 6th century to modern music and dancing, as well as some other interesting items, this one does nothing but entertain, and it’s a highly enjoyable romp. With the music, comedic moments, and Crosby’s charm, slaughtering of ye olde English and his characteristic banter this one is a winner, but will it be enough to help him stop Merlin, restore Arthur to the throne, get the girl and get home??

I had never even heard of this film before I watched it, and now, I’m sitting here wondering how it got by me. It’s not going to win any awards for historical accuracy or costume design, but it is a sheer joy to watch. A fun, music-filled time travel adventure!

rhondabing

 

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