Forcing the Fight
Nobleman Ivanhoe (Robert Taylor) has been on a quest to find the missing King Richard (Norman Wooland) and having crossed thousands of miles and visited many castles he discovers the King being held to ransom in a castle belonging to by Leopold of Austria. Returning home to his love Rowena (Joan Fontaine), Ivanhoe finds himself on another quest, to raise the money to free the King. It is a quest which sees him form allegiances with various people including Locksley (Harold Warrender) of Sherwood forest, find himself in a love triangle when a young woman called Rebecca (Elizabeth Taylor), falls for him, take part in competitions and deal with betrayal and King Richard's brother, King John's, treachery in trying to stay on the throne.
As a child I was introduced to the story of Ivanhoe at the same time I was introduced to Robin Hood, Robin Hood won out for me and in my eyes it won out for Hollywood as whilst there have been a few Ivanhoe movies there have been more about Robin Hood. Now I would say that this 1952 version of "Ivanhoe" is probably the best of the lot and that comes down to it being an MGM production and having the right look from the costumes through to the action. The thing is though is that there are a lot of movies with the same look, with the same types of characters and the same style of action right down to a jousting competition and for me "Ivanhoe" doesn't stand out from the crowd.
It is a shame because if truth be told "Ivanhoe" ticks all of the boxes especially when it comes to the casting with Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Fontaine nicely cast as part of a love triangle whilst Robert Taylor makes for a good hero figure. But no matter how hard I try or how many times I watch it for some reason "Ivanhoe" never really grips me and in a way it is because it is trying to hard to be a great action and adventure movie but ending up forcing scenes in the process.
What this all boils down to is that "Ivanhoe" probably did impress on its release back in 1952 but now doesn't have the detail to grip you like some other similar adventure movies from the past. Not only that it also feels like a movie trying too hard to compete with other adventure movies about knights and ends up feeling forced by doing so.