Friday, 27 June 2014

Two Heads Are Better Than One?

Just over ten years after ‘Sir Gawain & The Green Knight’, Stephen Weeks got a second bite at the Arthurian cherry and, with the help of Israeli producers Menahem Golen and Yoram Globus, cranked out ‘Sword of the Valiant’, a sleeker, more expensive, more fantastical version of his earlier film.

For all the improved special effects and more elaborate sets, however, ‘Sword of the Valiant’ is a lesser effort. At least ‘Gawain’ had grit – this just has gloss – eighties gloss – but on a budget, which shows up its pretensions and proves to be a constant distraction. Sir Gawain is played by Miles O’Keefe, a man who had played Tarzan opposite Bo Derek and is less an actor than a nicely marbled side of beef. Weeks had wanted Mark Hamill, but the producers had their own ideas, so Weeks got his own back by giving O’Keefe the most ridiculous wig possible.

Sean Connery plays The Green Knight, and gives a performance which doesn’t bear much analysis other than wondering how much he got paid. Much more than Wilfred Brambell, I would have thought, who makes his last fleeting screen appearance here.

On the plus side, the wizard is played by David Rappaport, who was never a great thespian but is always a welcome presence. He doesn’t save this tripe, by any means, but he makes bits of it easier to swallow, and it’s always nice to see Peter Cushing and Trevor Howard doing stuff, even if it is beneath them. Ronald Lacey repeats his earlier role, and is more odious than ever (being creepy looking is a great gift for a character actor, one that intensifies with age).    

Director Weeks never made another film, although he is still with us, presumably working on his next production. I’ll bet I can guess what it might be.

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