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Saurday Night Cinema: The War Lord

1

Buried with work last night, I somehow missed running GR’s regular Saturday night cinema feature at the appointed tiume. My apologies. Our film selection is The War Lord, starring acting lord Charlton Heston.

An interesting attempt to break away from stereotype epic. Heston plays the war lord in 11th century Normandy who finds that the land he controls is steeped in primitive tradition. The rituals of pagan mythology are well observed – cabalistic idols, sacrifices – as is Heston’s disintegration in the face of a mental force that he can’t understand. Well put together by Schaffner (it’s one of his best films, along with Planet of the Apes and Patton), and strongly photographed by Russell Metty. (Time Out)

In this painstakingly accurate historical drama, Norman knight Charlton Heston exercises his right to claim bride Rosemary Forsyth on the night of her wedding to James Farentino. Forsyth becomes enamored of her abductor, refusing to leave his side. Seeking vengeance, Farentino foments an all-out war between Heston and Heston’s covetous brother.

Battle Scenes Enliven Medieval Romance:Several Other Movies Begin N.Y. Runs
By BOSLEY CROWTHER
Published: November 18, 1965

THAT histrionic hair shirt that Charlton Heston dons when he plays any role, from John the Baptist to Michelangelo, is being worn by him in high fashion in his latest (but not last) historical role. It is that of a Norman knight in “The War Lord,” which came to the Murray Hill and other theaters yesterday.

This time Mr. Heston is grunting and sweating under the weary load of having to subdue some warlike Frisians in the Norman marshes along the Channel coast and then occupy the territory and maintain order among the shaggy villagers in the name of the duke.

He even grunts and sweats, after a fashion, when he insists upon the right of the seignior—the privilege of the wedding night—with a young bride of the village who has caught his eye. But he does most of his grunting and sweating, as does everyone in the film, when the Frisians return and try to capture his formidable Norman tower.

This martial phase of the picture is really the major part of it, and for good old-fashioned castle-storming, it offers a lively show. There is plenty of bow-and-arrow shooting and throwing spears and pouring boiling oil and battering-ramming the great oak doorway and assaulting the fortress with a scaling-tower.

Through it all Mr. Heston looms triumphant, his face furrowed by a fearsome frown and his hair shirt apparent through the armor of invincible righteousness he wears. The film is photographed in color, and right pretty color it is, too. In the end, of course, Mr. Heston, still in his hair shirt, goes riding off down the lonely road.

As the village girl who takes his fancy and with whom he spends her wedding night. Rosemary Forsyth is anything but shaggy. She is, indeed, quite a dish, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Grace Kelly when she started in films. Richard Boone does a sturdy re-enactment of his popular Paladin role as the right-hand man to Mr. Heston, and Guy Stockwell plays his left-hand man well. This production, directed by Franklin Schaffner, would warm the cockles of Errol Flynn’s heart.

THE WAR LORD, screenplay by John Collier and Millard Kaufman, based on the play “The Lovers,” by Leslie Stevens; directed by Franklin Schaffner; produced by Walter Seltzer. A Court production, released by Universal Pictures. At neighborhood theaters. Running time: 130 minutes.
Chrysagon . . . . . Charlton Heston
Bors . . . . . Richard Boone
Bronwyn . . . . . Rosemary Forsyth
Priest . . . . . Maurice Evans
Draco . . . . . Guy Stockwell
Odins . . . . . Niall MacGinnis
Frisian Prince . . . . . Henry Wilcoxon
Marc . . . . . James Farentino

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