Vikings, The (1958)

Vikings, The (1958)

“I want her to fight me tooth and nail — the first time I take her, and the last!”

An aggressive Viking king (Ernest Borgnine) sires an illegitimate British son (Tony Curtis) and a legitimate heir (Kirk Douglas), both of whom fall in love with and fight over a beautiful Welsh princess (Janet Leigh).

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Ernest Borgnine Films
  • Historical Drama
  • Janet Leigh Films
  • Kirk Douglas Films
  • Richard Fleischer Films
  • Royalty and Nobility
  • Slavery
  • Tony Curtis Films

Kirk Douglas produced and starred in this epic Technicolor adventure tale (directed by Richard Fleischer) featuring stunning on-location footage in Norway, Fort-la-Latte, and Lim Bay. The film did well at the box office, and it’s easy to see how audiences were drawn in by the colorful costumes, historic sets, gorgeous outdoor locales, romantic entanglements, and plenty of violent scenes (including Douglas’s character having his eye picked out by a hawk). The script is serviceable, if overly focused on Leigh’s “virtue” and a tad too full of hoary language:

“Love and hate are two horns on the same goat.”
“If he wasn’t fathered by the black ram in the full of the moon, my name is not Ragnar.”
“If my soul is content to be heathen and your’s content to be Christian, let’s not question flesh for wanting to remain flesh.”

But viewers who enjoy this type of spectacle will likely be pleased, and Jack Cardiff’s gorgeous cinematography makes it easy on the eyes.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Jack Cardiff’s cinematography

  • Impressive sets and historical recreations

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look for the impressive cinematography and sets.


One thought on “Vikings, The (1958)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see.

    Essentially a popcorn flick for teen boys. (Its modern equivalent: Zack Snyder’s ‘300’.) It’s well-produced, DP Cardiff’s work is impressive as usual and Fleischer’s direction is typically solid. The climactic duel is appropriately unsettling; it genuinely looks dangerous.

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