The Magic Sword (1962 film)

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The Magic Sword
Magic sword poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bert I. Gordon
Produced by Bert I. Gordon
Written by Bernard Schoenfeld
Starring Basil Rathbone
Estelle Winwood
Anne Helm
Gary Lockwood
Liam Sullivan
Maila Nurmi
Music by Richard Markowitz
Cinematography Nicolas Vogel
Paul Vogel
Edited by Harry Gerstad
Distributed by United Artists
Release date(s)
  • April 1962 (1962-04)
Running time 80 min.
Country United States
Language English

The Magic Sword (also known as St. George and the Dragon, St. George and the Seven Curses (the film's original title),[1] and The Seven Curses of Lodac) is a 1962 live action fantasy film, mainly aimed at children, based loosely on the medieval legend of Saint George and the Dragon.

The film appeared on a 1992 episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. In a highly unusual admission, characters Joel Robinson and Tom Servo said the movie was "pretty good for a Bert I. Gordon film" during a theater segment (though Crow T. Robot seemed to disagree). The writers of the show continued the praise in their Amazing Colossal Episode Guide.

Plot[edit]

George (Gary Lockwood) is the foster son of Sybil (Estelle Winwood), an elderly sorceress. She brought him up after his "royal parents died of the plague" in his infancy. He has fallen in love at first sight with Princess Helene (Anne Helm).

She is kidnapped by the wizard Lodac (Basil Rathbone), who brazenly informs her father that he intends to feed her to his pet dragon in seven days, revenge for the death of his sister at the same age as Helene is now: 18. George wants to go on a quest to liberate his lady love, but Sybil believes he is too young (he is 20). She tries to distract the youth by showing him a magic sword, a steed, an invulnerable suit of armour, and six magically frozen knights he will command when he turns 21. The impatient George, however, tricks Sybil and locks her in a cellar, then leaves with the magical implements and revived company of knights.

Sir George and his party appear before the king and insist on journeying to Lodac's castle to rescue Helene, against the opposition of Sir Branton (Liam Sullivan), a knight who had previously volunteered for the perilous quest. The king promises the rescuer his daughter's hand in marriage and half his kingdom.

Seven curses bar the path to Lodac's castle. First, they encounter an ogre, who slays Sir Ulrich of Germany and Sir Pedro of Spain. When George tries to save Sir Anthony of Italy from a swamp, Branton treacherously comes up from behind and kicks him in as well. Anthony is killed, but George survives with the help of his magic sword.

Later, Branton meets secretly with Lodac. It turns out that Branton has Lodac's ring, which the magician lost and wants back desperately. The kidnapping was solely intended to make Branton look good in exchange for the return of the ring. When Sir Dennis of France happens by, Lodac prepares a trap. Mignonette, a beautiful Frenchwoman, distracts her compatriot, then suddenly turns into an ugly hag (Maila Nurmi, best known to TV viewers of the 1950s as Vampira) who attacks him. Fortunately, George saves him with his magic shield.

Lodac finally becomes aware that George is being aided by magic. He contacts Sybil and mocks her abilities. Stung, she tries to cast a spell to help George, but ends up inadvertently stripping away all his magical powers.

Sir Dennis and Sir James of Scotland perish when they reconnoiter ahead. Branton then leads George and Sir Patrick of Ireland into a trap, revealing his partnership with Lodac before sealing them in a cave with deadly green apparitions. Patrick enables George to escape at the cost of his own life.

George sneaks into Lodac's castle and rescues Helene, only to be captured. The magician gives Helene (actually the hag in disguise) to Branton, but once he has the ring, he uses magic to put Branton's head on a plaque on the wall. George is tied up, but escapes with the help of shrunken prisoners. Sybil arrives and finally remembers the spell that restores George's powers, enabling him to slay the two-headed dragon and save Helene. Sybil steals the ring while Lodac is distracted. When the magician threatens the young couple with the seventh curse - himself - Sybil transforms herself into a large panther and kills him. The movie ends as Helene and George get married. When the Six knights are returned alive, George's happiness is complete.

Mythological references[edit]

The film is notable for its many mythological and folkloric motifs and references. Each of Sir George's knights seems to be named after a saint or other figure associated with his homeland:

  • Sir Dennis of France, after Saint Dennis, patron saint of France
  • Sir Pedro of Spain
  • Sir Patrick of Ireland, after Saint Patrick, patron saint of Ireland
  • Sir Anthony of Italy
  • Sir James of Scotland, James being the name of a number of Scottish kings
  • Sir Ulrich of Germany, perhaps in honor of Saint Ulrich of Augsburg

A 1606 book by Richard Johnson, Seven Champions of Christendom, lists the seven as St George of England, St Denis of France, St James of Spain, St Patrick of Ireland, St Andrew of Scotland, St David of Wales and St Anthony of Italy.[2]

Sybil, the name of George's foster mother, was also the name of a prophetess in Greco-Roman mythology, and furthermore there is the Perseus/St. George motif.

Production[edit]

The film was shot on the 20th Century Fox backlot and at Samuel Goldwyn Studio.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Issuu.com
  2. ^ footnote p.532 Keith, Gilbert The Collected Works of G.K. Chesterton 2002 Ignatius Press
  3. ^ p.81 Weaver, Tom I Was a Monster Movie Maker 2001 McFarland

External links[edit]