King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table - on the Screen

Camelot - art by Boris Vallejo
Camelot - art by Boris Vallejo

The Legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table has been the subject of hundreds of books over the centuries.

The two most famous books are Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory, first published in 1485 and The Once and Future King by T.H. White which was published in 1958.

This hub looks at the various films based on King Arthur and the Knights of Camelot. With facts, quotes, ratings, posters and photos.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Glossary
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

King Arthur - King of the Britons and son of Uther Pendragon
Queen Guinevere - Wife of King Arthur, her adultery with Lancelot brings about the downfall of Camelot.
Camelot - Arthur's mythical city and castle situated somewhere in Britain.
Excalibur - In some legends the sword in the stone, only Arthur could pull it from the stone thus proving he was the true king. In other legends Excalibur is not the sword in the stone but the sword given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake.
Igraine - Mother of King Arthur and Morgan Le Fay
Lady of the Lake - An enchantress also known as the Lady of Avalon, she gives Arthur the sword Excalibur.
Lyonesse - A mythical kingdom which sunk beneath the waves.
Merlin - A powerful wizard and Arthur's mentor.
Mordred - Sometimes referred to as Arthur's illegitimate son, Arthur and Mordred kill each other in a final duel.
Morgan le Fay (Morgana) - half-sister of Arthur, hates her brother, a Sorceress.
Round Table - A large circular table where the knights would sit and chat and glare suspiciously at each other.
Sir Bors - One of the three Grail Knights, the others are Galahad and Percival.
Sir Galahad - The purest and noblest Knight, he is the son of Lancelot and the only Knight permitted to see the Holy Grail.
Sir Gawain - A Knight famous for his duel with the Green Knight.
Sir Lancelot (Lancelot of the Lake) - The most prominent of the Knights, has an affair with Guinevere.
Sir Percival - Along with Sir Bors and Sir Galahad a Knight who finds the Grail.
Uther Pendragon - Legendary King and Arthur's father.

A Connecticut Yankee (1931) poster
A Connecticut Yankee (1931) poster


A Connecticut Yankee (1931) Directed by David Butler. 95mins.

* King Arthur - William Farnum
Morgan le Fay - Myrna Loy
Merlin - Brandon Hurst

Starring Will Rogers and Maureen O'Sullivan.

Based on Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, first published in 1889.

Merlin is a villainous wizard in Twain's novel and the films based on it.

IMDB rating 6.7

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

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949) Directed by Tay Garnett. 106mins.

* King Arthur - Cedric Hardwicke
Sir Lancelot - Henry Wilcoxon
Sir Galahad - Richard Webb
Morgan Le Fay - Virginia Field
Merlin - Murvyn Vye

Starring Bing Crosby, Rhonda Fleming and William Bendix.

Musical comedy based on Mark Twain's novel.

After hitting his head and falling unconscious Bing Crosby wakes to find himself back in time to the year 528 AD where he encounters King Arthur and his Knights.

Sir Sagramore: If there were aught I could say, aught I could do to save thee...
Hank Martin: Well, ain't there aught?
Sir Sagramore: Naught.

IMDB rating 6.6

Knights of the Round Table (1953)
Knights of the Round Table (1953)
Knights of the Round Table (1953)
Knights of the Round Table (1953)


Knights of the Round Table (1953) Directed by Richard Thorpe. 115mins.

* King Arthur - Mel Ferrer
Sir Lancelot - Robert Taylor
Guinevere - Ava Gardner
Morgan Le Fay - Anne Crawford
Modred -Stanley Baker
Merlin - Felix Aylmer

MGM's first Cinemascope film.

Stanley Baker replaced George Sanders as the villainous Modred after Sanders fell ill before filming began.

Oscar nominations for Best Art Direction and Best Sound.

IMDB rating 6.2

Prince Valiant (1954) German poster
Prince Valiant (1954) German poster
Prince Valiant (1954)
Prince Valiant (1954)
Prince Valiant (1954)
Prince Valiant (1954)

Prince Valiant (1954) Directed by Henry Hathaway. 100mins.

* King Arthur - Brian Aherne

Starring Robert Wagner, James Mason, Janet Leigh, Debra Paget and Sterling Hayden as Sir Gawain.

Based on a comic strip by Hal Foster which first appeared in 1937.

Filmed in Cinemascope and 4-track stereo sound.

Sir Gawain: If you're King Aguar's son, why did you throw that rock?
Prince Valiant: I thought you were the knight that was after me.
Sir Gawain: What knight?
Prince Valiant: All I saw was his black armor.
Sir Gawain: The Black Knight!

IMDB rating 6.2

The Black Knight (1954) lobby card
The Black Knight (1954) lobby card

The Black Knight (1954) Directed by Tay Garnett. 85mins.

* King Arthur - Anthony Bushell

Starring Alan Ladd, Patricia Medina, Andre Morell, Harry Andrews and Peter Cushing.

41 year old Alan Ladd was miscast as the 'young' blacksmith who is secretly helping King Arthur in the guise of The Black Knight.

Filmed in England, Wales and Spain.

IMDB rating 5.3

Lancelot and Guinevere (1963) poster
Lancelot and Guinevere (1963) poster



Lancelot and Guinevere (1963) aka Sword of Lancelot. Directed by Cornel Wilde. 116mins.

* King Arthur - Brian Aherne
Sir Lancelot - Cornel Wilde
Guinevere - Jean Wallace

Also starring George Baker, Adrienne Corri and Mark Dignam as Merlin.

Cornel Wilde produced, directed, wrote and starred in the film.

According to some reviewers Cornel Wilde's French accent reminds them of Inspector Clouseau and that the fight sequences are well staged and more violent than usual.

Tagline - This was the loving... battling... lusty age of King Arthur... the Knights of the Round Table... the fabulous age of Camelot!

IMDB rating 5.8

The Sword in the Stone (1963)
The Sword in the Stone (1963)
The Sword in the Stone (1963) poster
The Sword in the Stone (1963) poster

The Sword in the Stone (1963) Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman. 79mins.

* Wart (Arthur) - Rickie Sorensen (voice)
Merlin - Karl Swenson (voice)

Also starring Junius Matthews, Sebastian Cabot, Alan Napier and Martha Wentworth as Madam Mim.

Walt Disney animation loosely based on The Sword in the Stone by T.H. White, first published in 1938 and later to become the first part of his magnum opus The Once and Future King (1958).

Young Wart (Arthur) is tutored by Merlin and his owl Archimedes. The highlight of this tale is a wizard's duel between Merlin and Mad Madam Mim.

Oscar Nomination for Best Music (George Bruns).

Arthur: Oh, Merlin! You're back from Ber... Ber...
Merlin: Bermuda? Yes, back from Bermuda and the 20th century. And believe me, you can have it. One big modern mess!

IMDB rating 7.1

Camelot (1967)
Camelot (1967)
Camelot (1967) poster
Camelot (1967) poster

Camelot (1967) Directed by Joshua Logan. 179mins.

* King Arthur - Richard Harris
Guenevere - Vanessa Redgrave
Lancelot - Franco Nero

Also starring David Hemmings, Lionel Jeffries and Laurence Naismith as Merlin.

Based on the stage musical "Camelot" by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, which first opened on Broadway in 1960.

Richard Burton and Julie Andrews played King Arthur and Guinevere on Broadway. Laurence Harvey played Arthur in London's Theatre Royal.

Nominated for 5 Oscars winning 3 - Best Music (Alfred Newman), Costume Design and Art Direction.

Richard Harris won Best Actor Musical / Comedy at the Golden Globe Awards, Vanessa Redgrave and Franco Nero received nominations.

Cost $13m - Box Office $31m (US)

IMDB rating 6.4

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) poster
Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) poster

Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) Directed by Terry Jones and Terry Gilliam. 91mins.

* King Arthur - Graham Chapman
Sir Lancelot - John Cleese
Sir Galahad - Michael Palin
Sir Robin - Eric Idle
Sir Bedevere - Terry Jones
Sir Bors - Terry Gilliam
The Witch - Connie Booth
Zoot - Carol Cleveland

1st Peasant: Who's that then?
2nd Peasant: I dunno, must be a king.
1st Peasant: Why?
2nd Peasant: He hasn't got sh!t all over him.

A comedy classic by the team from the BBC TV show Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974)

The first Monty Python movie was And Now for Something Completely Different (1971) which was a collection of upgraded comedy sketches from the series.

They followed that film with this spoof on King Arthur and his quest for the Holy Grail. The low budget production couldn't afford horses so the Knights hopped around banging coconut shells together.

The Python team play multiple roles in the movie with Michael Palin playing the most parts, 12.

Cost £229,475 - Box Office $127.8m (worldwide)

Dennis: Listen, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.
King Arthur: Be quiet!
Dennis: You can't expect to wield supreme executive power just 'cause some watery tart threw a sword at you!
King Arthur: Shut up!
Dennis: I mean, if I went around sayin' I was an emperor just because some moistened bint had lobbed a scimitar at me they'd put me away!

IMDB rating 8.4

The Spaceman and King Arthur (1979)
The Spaceman and King Arthur (1979)

The Spaceman and King Arthur (1979) aka Unidentified Flying Oddball. Directed by Russ Mayberry. 93mins.

* King Arthur - Kenneth More
Sir Mordred - Jim Dale
Merlin - Ron Moody

Also starring Dennis Dugan, John Le Mesurier and Sheila White.

Loosely based on Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889).

A NASA astronaut flying through space at the speed of light travels back to the time of King Arthur, he uses modern technology to defeat the evil Mordred who is planning to remove Arthur from the throne.

Remade as 'A Kid in King Arthur's Court' (1995) with Ron Moody again playing Merlin.

IMDB rating 4.9

Excalibur (1981) Japanese poster
Excalibur (1981) Japanese poster
Excalibur (1981)
Excalibur (1981)
Excalibur (1981)
Excalibur (1981)

Excalibur (1981) Directed by John Boorman. 140mins.

* King Arthur - Nigel Terry
Morgana - Helen Mirren
Merlin - Nicol Williamson
Lancelot - Nicholas Clay
Guinevere - Cherie Lunghi

Also starring Paul Geoffrey, Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson and Patrick Stewart.

Based on Thomas Malory's Arthurian romance 'Le Morte d'Arthur', first published in 1485.

Max Von Sydow was considered for the role of Merlin.

Arthur: Merlin where are you going?
Merlin: Where do you think? You have a kingdom to rule.
Arthur: But how? I don't know how.
Merlin: You knew how to draw the sword from the stone.
Arthur: That was easy.
Merlin: Was it? I couldn't have done it.

Most of the soundtrack features classical pieces of music including - Carmina Burana (Carl Orff), Parsifal, Tristan & Isolde and Siegfried's Funeral March (Richard Wagner). Original music was composed by Trevor Jones.

Oscar Nomination for Best Cinematography.

British Academy Award Nomination for Best Costume Design.

Cost $11m - Box Office $35m

Merlin: You brought me back. Back to where you are now in the land of dreams.
Arthur: Are you a dream, Merlin?
Merlin: A dream to some. A NIGHTMARE TO OTHERS!

IMDB rating 7.4

Sword of the Valiant (1984) poster
Sword of the Valiant (1984) poster

Sword of the Valiant (1984) Directed by Stephen Weeks. 102mins.

* King Arthur - Trevor Howard
Sir Gawain - Miles O'Keeffe

Also starring Cyrielle Clair, Emma Sutton, Peter Cushing, Douglas Wilmer and Sean Connery as The Green Knight.

Based on the old English poem "Sir Gawain and the Green Knight".

The director wanted Mark Hamill to play Sir Gawain but the producers insisted Miles O' Keefe was the best man for the job.

Sir Gawain: I forgot to ask one question during my quick initiation into knighthood.
Humphrey: Oh? What's that?
Sir Gawain: How to relieve myself in this tin suit.

IMDB rating 4.3

Malcolm McDowell as Arthur the King (1985)
Malcolm McDowell as Arthur the King (1985)

Arthur the King (1985) aka Merlin and the Sword. Directed by Clive Donner. 180mins.

* King Arthur - Malcolm McDowell
Morgan Le Fay - Candice Bergen
Merlin - Edward Woodward

Also starring Rupert Everett as Lancelot, Rosalyn Landor and Liam Neeson.

Rod Stewart was considered for the Liam Neeson role.

Reviews were not good with one reviewer writing "Throw it back in the lake!"

IMDB rating 4.3

First Knight (1995)
First Knight (1995)
First Knight (1995)
First Knight (1995)

First Knight (1995) Directed by Jerry Zucker. 134mins.

* King Arthur - Sean Connery
Lancelot - Richard Gere
Guinevere - Julia Ormond

Also starring Ben Cross, Christopher Villiers and John Gielgud.

James Bond director Terence Young was to have directed the film but died during pre-production, he last worked with Sean Connery on Thunderball (1965).

Mel Gibson was considered for the role of Lancelot.

Music legend Jerry Goldsmith replaced another music legend, Maurice Jarre, on the film and delivered a fabulous score in just 4 days,

Cost $55m - Box Office $127.6m

King Arthur: This is the heart of Camelot, not these stones, not these timbers, these palaces and towers. Burn them all and Camelot lives on, because it lives in us. Camelot is a belief that we hold in our hearts.

IMDB rating 5.7

Prince Valiant (1997)
Prince Valiant (1997)
Prince Valiant (1997) poster
Prince Valiant (1997) poster


Prince Valiant (1997) Directed by Anthony Hickox. 91mins.

* King Arthur - Edward Fox

Also starring Stephen Moyer as Prince Valiant, Katherine Heigl, Thomas Kretschmann, Udo Kier, Ron Perlman, Warwick Davis and Joanna Lumley as Morgan Le Fey.

Based on the comic strip by Hal Foster, first published in 1937.

English actor Stephen Moyer is best known as the vampire Bill Compton in the hit TV series True Blood.

IMDB rating 4.9

Merlin (1998)
Merlin (1998)
Merlin (1998) poster
Merlin (1998) poster

Merlin (1998) Directed by Steve Barron. 182mins.

* King Arthur - Paul Curran
Merlin - Sam Neill
Morgan Le Fay - Helena Bonham Carter

Also starring Rutger Hauer, John Gielgud, James Earl Jones, Miranda Richardson, Lena Headey as Guinevere and Martin Short.

3 hour TV movie made for the Hallmark Channel.

The Arthur legend seen from Merlin's perspective.

Nominated for 4 Golden Globe Awards - Best Mini-Series, Best Actor (Sam Neill), Actress (Miranda Richardson) and Supporting Actress (Helena Bonham Carter) in a mini-series.

Nominated for 15 Primetime Emmy Awards winning 4 - Art Direction, Costume Design, Make Up and Visual Effects.

IMDB rating 6.9

Quest for Camelot (1998)
Quest for Camelot (1998)
Quest for Camelot (1998) poster
Quest for Camelot (1998) poster

Quest for Camelot (1998) aka The Magic Sword. Directed by Frederik Du Chau. 86mins.

* King Arthur - Pierce Brosnan (voice)

Also starring Jessalyn Gilsig, Cary Elwes, Gary Oldman, Eric Idle, Gabriel Byrne and John Gielgud as Merlin.

Based on the fantasy novel "The King's Damosel" by Vera Chapman, first published in 1976.

Oscar Nomination for Best Song ("The Prayer")

Cost $40m - Box Office $22.5m (US)

Cornwall: Come on baby, light my fire...
Devon: You know, there's nothing more pathetic than a flame-retarded dragon.

IMDB rating 5.5

King Arthur (2004) poster
King Arthur (2004) poster
King Arthur (2004)
King Arthur (2004)

King Arthur (2004) Directed by Antoine Fuqua. 126mins (142mins)

* King Arthur - Clive Owen
Lancelot - Ioan Gruffudd
Guinevere - Keira Knightley

Also starring Mads Mikkelsen, Ray Winstone, Ray Stevenson, Stellan Skarsgard and Stephen Dillane as Merlin.

Rejecting the use of CG, a kilometer long replica of Hadrian's Wall was built for the film which took four months to construct, the largest film set ever built in Ireland.

Gory R-rated battle scenes were filmed but the studio panicked and ordered the violence cut down in order to secure a more family friendly PG-13 rating. When the film was released one of the main criticisms was that the movie was unusually bloodless. A more violent director's cut was later released on DVD.

In an interview Keira Knightley confessed that her breasts were digitally enhanced on posters for the movie to make them look larger.

Cost $120m - Box Office $203.5m

Guinevere: My father told me great tales of you.
Arthur: Really? And what did you hear?
Guinevere: Fairy tales. The kind you hear about people so brave, so selfless, that they can't be real.

IMDB rating 6.2

The Last Legion (2007)
The Last Legion (2007)
The Last Legion (2007) poster
The Last Legion (2007) poster

The Last Legion (2007) Directed by Doug Lefler. 102mins.

* Young Arthur - Rory James

Starring Colin Firth, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Peter Mullan, John Hannah, Iain Glen, Thomas Sangster and Ben Kingsley as Ambrosinus / Merlin.

Produced by Dino De Laurentiis and based on the novel "The Last Legion" by Valerio Massimo Manfredi, first published in 2002.

An interesting prequel to the legend of King Arthur set in Britain in the 5th century AD ruled by the last Roman Emperor Romulus Augustus. Arthur is only a child in this film and the movie ends with the discovery of the sword in the stone and the partially obscured inscription - EXCALIBUR.

IMDB rating 5.4

Merlin (2008) poster
Merlin (2008) poster
Merlin (2008)
Merlin (2008)

Merlin (2008-2012) BBC TV Series.

* Arthur - Bradley James
Merlin - Colin Morgan

Also starring John Hurt, Richard Wilson, Angel Coulby, Katie McGrath and Anthony Head.

Popular BBC TV series now in it's 5th season.

65 x 50mins episodes.

Influenced by the TV show Smallville, Basically the series tells the story of how the young wizard Merlin meets and befriends "the Once and Future King" Arthur.

Kilgharrah: In a land of myth, and a time of magic, the destiny of a great kingdom rests on the shoulders of a young boy. His name... Merlin.

IMDB rating 7.8

More by this Author


Comments 13 comments

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Did this take me back. Thank you.


Geekdom profile image

Geekdom 3 years ago

Always been a fan of the Arthurian Legend. The films have always been hit or miss. I would say my favorite is Monty Python and the Holy Grail, but the Monty Python cast is brilliant in almost everything they do.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 3 years ago from London, England Author

Mhatter99, Geekdom, thanks for commenting, always appreciated.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a huge favorite of mine and I've devoted an entire hub to it. Yes there was a time when I was writing about one movie per hub, but I found out I was getting more views writing about multiple movies in each hub. :)

Funny but the first movie on this hub has Arthur and Merlin as old men and when you get to the most recent entry they are young men. In one of the legends Merlin was supposed to be aging 'backwards' in time, he was getting younger instead of older.

Amigos thanks for posting!


carol7777 profile image

carol7777 3 years ago from Arizona

I love all the vintage photos and posters..and my lesson in history Great job and going vote up and PIN.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 3 years ago from London, England Author

Thank you Carol, appreciate the comment and vote. I had fun with this one and learned a few things about the Grail legend too. Cheers.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

I love all things Arthurian! I didn't see two of the movies, the first Connecticut Yankee and The Spaceman and King Arthur but saw all the rest. Great job, as always, giving us all the information. I loved your introduction containing a glossary!

Voted up, useful, awesome, and interesting.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 3 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Mary, your comments are always appreciated. There are four here I haven't seen, the first Connecticut Yankee, Sword of the Valiant, Arthur the King and the 1997 Prince Valiant.

I thought a glossary might be useful, I originally wrote a jokey glossary influenced by Monty Python and on the last day changed my mind and rewrote it. :)


UnnamedHarald profile image

UnnamedHarald 3 years ago from Cedar Rapids, Iowa

As movies go, I also have to say that Monty Python and the Holy Grail is my favorite. I like the movies that include the waning Roman influence in Britain. Don't know why, just do. A kilometer-long wall! That is very interesting, but I must admit, when I saw King Arthur (2004), which I enjoyed, I did feel that the wall was much too high and impervious-- but what do I know?


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 3 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks for commenting David, much appreciated. It's been a few years since I last saw King Arthur, I'm curious to see it again and check out that kilometer-long wall and see how impressive it looks, did it have to be that long? In the old days a matte painting would have done the trick and they'd only need to build a section of the wall. The old matte artists saved the studios a lot of money. :)


fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 3 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Steve......I haven't seen the majority of these, but that's not unusual for me. I've come to realize, though, not being familiar with the movies, I do know who all the actors are and I always enjoy your hubs.....checking out these posters is very entertaining!...UP+++


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 3 years ago from London, England Author

Thanks Paula, your comments are always appreciated. I haven't seen all of these either. Glad you liked the posters.

Oh and Merry Christmas Paula and everyone at Hubpages!


Cogerson 3 years ago

Thoughts while reading your King Arthur hub. (1) I liked the glossary. (2) Did you know Twain's Connecticut Yankee was probably the first time travel novel....got that from the Looper special feautures. (3) Boy does Robert Wagner look young....but then again that was 57 years ago. (4) Sword in the Stone is one of my least favorite Disney movies. (5) Holy Grail is a movie I watch at least once a year. (6) Excalibur is another favorite...so glad it finally came out on Blu-Ray...though I must admit the second half of the movie drags a little. (7) Merlin was an excellent tv movie (8) Connery was good as King Arthur...too bad Gere was in that movie (9) King Arthur is pretty good....and now it is hard to miss the bad guy from Casino Royal and Mr. Fantastic in supporting roles...not to mention Edgerton.

Good hub ....voted up and across the board.


Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 3 years ago from London, England Author

Hi Bruce, thanks for commenting. I will add Connecticut Yankee to my list of Time Travel films for future reference. The big difference is that there is no time machine involved. H.G. Wells had yet to write the story. :)

Hmm not sure if Excalibur is out on blu-ray in the UK, I'll have to check.

Thanks for posting.

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working