King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table - on the Screen
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.
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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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
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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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) 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 (2008-2012) 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
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