..

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
Studio: Columbia
Features: See Review
Length: 125 Minutes
Release Date: June 24, 2003

Film **

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!

Video **

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 collection.

 Audio **

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.

Features *

As for features this DVD gives you three movie trailers to view.

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??

Summary:

When your ship comes in, it better be a Long Ship or your DVD player will not let it dock.   I’m telling you, pick up this movie on DVD today and take it for a spin…you won’t regret it.