THE LONG SHIPS
Review by Chastity Campbell
Stars: Richard Widmark, Sidney Poiter, Russ Tamblyn
Director: Jack Cardiff
Audio: Dolby Digital
Video: 2.20:1 Anamorphic Widescreen Format
Features: See Review
Length: 125 Minutes
Release Date: June 24, 2003
They call me Mr. Tibbs!…well, okay, not in this movie
they don’t. But hey, Prince
Mansuh isn’t bad, either! Sidney
Poiter stars alongside Richard Widmark and Russ Tamblyn in a tale of Vikings,
princes, and a golden bell that no one seems to be able to get their hands on.
The Long Ships, directed by Jack Cardiff and
originally released by Columbia Pictures in 1964 tells the tale of some very
brave…well okay, some very greedy Viking soldiers who commandeer their
current king’s future burial ship to go in search of a golden bell.
This bell will make the one who finds it rich beyond their wildest
dreams. There’s only one
problem: does anyone really know
where to find it?
This movie made me laugh, and I’m not sure if it was
supposed to! Richard Widmark
plays Viking conman Rolfe. Rolfe is
setting out to make his next big score, and I think it was his playboy style and
devil may care attitude that made me laugh so much.
I didn’t realize till this DVD that Vikings had an upper East coast
accent. Isn’t it amazing what
movies can teach you?
Rolfe’s little brother Orm, played by Russ Tamblyn, is in
love with the king’s daughter. So when they steal the king’s burial ship, it
seems only natural to kidnap his daughter along with it.
They ride the high seas in search of the golden bell only
to end up riding the rocks as their Long Ship gets blown out from under them.
The island they have landed on is inhabited by a group of Muslim
warriors, who are under the leadership of Prince El Mansuh.
Sydney Poitier is a very dramatic actor who in his subtleness has the
fluidity of a Broadway stage performer without the stage.
Poitier’s character has one goal in life, and that is to
find the golden bell. He
desires it with the same type of obsessive determination that Rolfe does.
He believes Rolfe truly knows where the bell is hidden, and is determined
to know the location, at any cost.
With all of the movies from the 1950’s and 1960’s being
released on DVD, I personally believe you have to open yourself up to them and
view them with a certain level of forgiveness. Only within the last fifteen to twenty years have we
seen significant improvements with audio and visual presentations that have
allowed for better care and handling of film originals. With the advent of the digital age, it brings about a whole
new revolution in filmmaking and film transferring, which allows us to revisit
past movie experiences in a whole new way.
This film appears by my estimations to be a roundabout
homage to the Holy Grail. No, not
the Monty Python movie! The
obsessive desires of all, to find the great and awesome bell that was created by
a holy order, is in some ways reminiscent of the stories told of the Holy Grail.
I believe this to be an awesome reminder that even though there appear to be
very few original stories left to tell, there’s always a way to add a new
twist to an old familiar favorite.
This movie was interesting, and fun to watch from beginning
to end. For whom does the
Golden Bell toll? Guess you’ll
have to watch it to find out!
As I mentioned above with Digital transfers from prints
that are more than twenty years old, you have to view them with a certain level
of forgiveness. This was in
essence a very well done transfer. There
was dirt and grain visible, as well as a hazy appearance to some scenes, but
other than that, it was very nice. The
colors, and tones were a little dull and could have benefited from more of a
clean up effort but all in all, not a bad little disc to have in your
The audio as well was not done in a modern recording studio, and of course you have to allow a certain amount of room on either side of the bar. The sound effects were very nicely done, and more than that, everything sounded appropriate. Sometimes in older films you hear things that are meant to be one sound but come off like another. In this movie everything sounded very well timed and planned. The audio did come across a bit hollow and muffled at times, but again, here’s where you measure it against other films from that time period and realize that was the norm.
As for features this DVD gives you three movie trailers to
The Long Ships, The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad, and The
Golden Voyage of Sinbad are all included for your viewing pleasure.
Hmm The Golden Voyage of Sinbad…I wonder if he had any luck
finding that bell??