A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949 film)

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949 film).jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Tay Garnett
Produced by Robert Fellows
Written by Edmund Beloin
Based on A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
1889 novel
by Mark Twain
Starring
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography Ray Rennahan
Edited by Archie Marshek
Production
company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • April 22, 1949 (1949-04-22) (USA)
Running time
106 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $3.4 million[1]
Box office $3 million[2]

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a 1949 American Technicolor musical comedy film directed by Tay Garnett and starring Bing Crosby, Rhonda Fleming, Sir Cedric Hardwicke, and William Bendix.[3]

Based on the 1889 novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain, the film is about a mechanic in 1912 who bumps his head and finds himself in Arthurian Britain in AD 528, where he is befriended by a knight and gains power by judicious use of technology. When he falls in love with the King's niece, her fiancé Sir Lancelot takes exception, and when he meddles in the politics of the kingdom, trouble ensues.

Filmed from October to December 1947,[4] A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was released on April 22, 1949 and distributed by Paramount Pictures. The film was a popular success and became one of the highlight films of 1949.[5]

Plot[edit]

Hank Martin (Bing Crosby), an American mechanic, is knocked out and wakes up in the land of King Arthur. Here he finds romance with Alisande la Carteloise (Rhonda Fleming) and friendship with Sir Sagramore (William Bendix).

Unfortunately, the heroic Hank also incurs the hatred of both Merlin (Murvyn Vye) and Morgan le Fay (Virginia Field). While Hank persuades King Arthur (Cedric Hardwicke), an aged, semi-perpetual, cold-in-the-nose invalid, to tour his kingdom in disguise to see the true, wretched condition of his subjects, Merlin and Morgan plot to usurp his throne. When Hank tries to stop them, he is returned to his own time.

Heartsick over losing the woman he loves, he goes on a tour of a British castle. Its owner, Lord Pendragon (Hardwicke again), sends him to see his niece, who looks just like Alisande.

Production notes[edit]

The film soundtrack was composed by Jimmy Van Heusen with lyrics by Johnny Burke. The orchestral score was written by longtime Paramount staff composer Victor Young, who also conducted the orchestra for many of Crosby's Decca Records recordings.[6]

  • "If You Stub Your Toe on the Moon" by Bing Crosby
  • "When Is Sometime" by Rhonda Fleming
  • "Once and for Always" by Bing Crosby and Rhonda Fleming
  • "Busy Doing Nothing" by Bing Crosby, William Bendix, and Cedric Hardwicke
  • "Once and for Always" (reprise) by Bing Crosby and Rhonda Fleming
  • "Twixt Myself and Me" by Murvyn Vye (this was cut from the film after its world premiere at Radio City Music Hall, New York).[7]

A highlight of the film is the scene in which Hank Martin teaches the court musicians how to "jazz up" the medieval music they are playing. Perhaps the best-known song from the score is "Busy Doing Nothing," which Hank, Sir Sagramore and the King sing when they are strolling through the woods pretending to be peasants.

The cast made separate recordings of the songs used in the film for Decca Records in December 1947[8] and these were issued as a 78rpm album set. Crosby's songs were also included in the Bing's Hollywood series.

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court was one of the highlight films of 1949.[5] The critics were generally complimentary with Bosley Crowther of The New York Times saying on April 8, 1949: "The solid, reliable humors of Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” which have already done yeoman service in two films and a Broadway musical show, have been given another going over—with eminently satisfactory results—in Paramount’s new film of the same title, which came to the Music Hall yesterday. And for this we can thank Bing Crosby, primarily and above all, because it is Bing in the role of the Yankee who gives this film its particular charm...But it is still Bing’s delightful personality, his mild surprises and sweet serenities, and his casual way of handling dialogue that makes this burlesque a success. No one in current operation could qualify, we are sure, to play the Connecticut Yankee the way the old Groaner does.[10]

Variety was not quite so enthusiastic. "Picture wears the easy casualness that’s a Crosby trademark, goes about its entertaining at a leisurely pace, and generally comes off satisfactorily. It’s not high comedy and there’s little swashbuckling."[11]

In 2008, the American Film Institute nominated this film for its Top 10 Fantasy Films list.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Variety 18 February 1948 p7
  2. ^ "Top Grossers of 1949". Variety. 4 January 1950. p. 59. 
  3. ^ "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  4. ^ Macfarlane, Malcolm. "BING magazine". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Neuhaus, Mel. "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved March 5, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Soundtracks for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  7. ^ Reynolds, Fred (1986). Road to Hollywood. Gateshead, UK: John Joyce. p. 187. 
  8. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". A Bing Crosby Discography. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Full cast and crew for A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved August 26, 2012. 
  10. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "The New York Times". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2016. 
  11. ^ "Variety". February 23, 1949. 
  12. ^ "AFI's 10 Top 10 Nominees" (PDF). Archived from the original on 2011-07-16. Retrieved 2016-08-19. 

External links[edit]