Long Ships [1963]

Looking for a rousing Viking adventure that's cheesy and entertaining? The Long Ships is just the movie for you. As England's greatest color cinematographer, Jack Cardiff had filmed 1958's The Vikings, so he was well-prepared to direct this exciting, occasionally grisly mini-epic (a British/Yugoslavian coproduction, filmed in Yugoslavia), which received mixed-to-favorable reviews when released in 1964. Back then, it was a perfect matinee marvel if you were young and impressionable, and it's still worth its weight in hot buttered popcorn. While that most contemporary of actors, Richard Widmark, is clearly out of place as a maverick Norse warrior, he's sufficiently valiant as he guides his Viking brother (Russ Tamblyn, still hot from West Side Story) and a long-ship full of warriors in search of a huge, solid-gold bell coveted by Mansuh (Sidney Poitier), a Moorish prince obsessed with retrieving the legendary bell at any cost. Treacherous maelstroms, lovely damsels, corny battles, and casual humor make The Long Ships a lot of fun--like a Ray Harryhausen adventure without the animated creatures. (Oh, and Mr. Poitier? James Brown called... he wants his hair back.) --Jeff Shannon

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