The Crusades (1935)

120 or 124-125 mins | Drama | 25 October 1935

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HISTORY

Rudolph Kopp and Harold Lamb were the only songwriters listed on the film. Katherine DeMille's name is spelled "De Mille" in the end credits, but is spelled "DeMille" twice in the opening credits. An early DV news item about this production quotes Cecil B. DeMille as saying that "an epic of the early days of the church militant is particularly timely, now that religious factions are unusually active in matters affecting the whole entertainment world." A DV news item from 20 Feb 1935 stated that DeMille would be hiring extras from the Riding Actors Association, an organization of veteran screen horsemen, to act as knights mounted on horses in the film. The "knights" were to wear ninety pounds of armor and heavy helmets that would restrict their vision to small slits. A news item in HR from 12 Apr 1935 stated that Paramount property worker Daniel Ulrich had his right leg crushed by the 35-ton siege tower used by DeMille for the Battle of Acre in the film. Electricity in the forty-foot stopped instantly upon contact with Ulrich's leg, thus sparing him his life. The NYT review remarked on the novel use of the split screen in this film, while MPH devoted a whole page to praise the film's music. The MPH review credits Guy Usher separately as both "Grey Beard" and "Templar." Several members of the cast, including Hobart Bosworth, also appeared in silent DeMille films.
       In his autobiography, DeMille credits Cullen Tate along with David MacDonald as assistant director on the film, and states that writer Jeanie MacPherson, uncredited on the ... More Less

Rudolph Kopp and Harold Lamb were the only songwriters listed on the film. Katherine DeMille's name is spelled "De Mille" in the end credits, but is spelled "DeMille" twice in the opening credits. An early DV news item about this production quotes Cecil B. DeMille as saying that "an epic of the early days of the church militant is particularly timely, now that religious factions are unusually active in matters affecting the whole entertainment world." A DV news item from 20 Feb 1935 stated that DeMille would be hiring extras from the Riding Actors Association, an organization of veteran screen horsemen, to act as knights mounted on horses in the film. The "knights" were to wear ninety pounds of armor and heavy helmets that would restrict their vision to small slits. A news item in HR from 12 Apr 1935 stated that Paramount property worker Daniel Ulrich had his right leg crushed by the 35-ton siege tower used by DeMille for the Battle of Acre in the film. Electricity in the forty-foot stopped instantly upon contact with Ulrich's leg, thus sparing him his life. The NYT review remarked on the novel use of the split screen in this film, while MPH devoted a whole page to praise the film's music. The MPH review credits Guy Usher separately as both "Grey Beard" and "Templar." Several members of the cast, including Hobart Bosworth, also appeared in silent DeMille films.
       In his autobiography, DeMille credits Cullen Tate along with David MacDonald as assistant director on the film, and states that writer Jeanie MacPherson, uncredited on the film, contributed "to most of my pictures from then on, whether or not she took screen credit for her work." DeMille reports that during production, he was confined to a Los Angeles hospital with a minor illness and convinced nurses to model costumes for him. Although in DeMille's opinion, The Crusades is "one of the best pictures I have ever made," it failed to be a great financial success in its initial release, although the 1936-37 MPA lists it as a box-office "champion" of 1935. DeMille also writes that the character of the Hermit was meant to suggest Peter the Hermit, Bernard of Clairvaux, "and all the zealous preachers who stirred Europe to arise and take the Cross." It was DeMille's intent to convey a time in history when "Christian men, kings, knights, and commoners, with motives ranging from the purest faith to the blackest treachery and greed, left their homes by the thousands and sought to wrest the Holy Land from its Moslem possessors, who were not, as the propaganda of the time would have it, infidel dogs, but highly civilized and chivalrous foemen." MPA reports that The Crusades is "that kind of valuable screen merchandise that requires one to work his head off to make the public believe the truth." For his work on the film, cinematographer Victor Milner was nominated for an Academy Award.
       This film was the last produced under DeMille's existing contract at Paramount, and when that studio did not pursue new negotiations with the director, Samuel Goldwyn invited DeMille Productions to move as a unit to United Artists. The move would have necessitated a $1,400,000 investment, however, which DeMille Productions did not have. For a time in 1935, DeMille considered retiring from motion pictures, after having directed sixty films, but Paramount's eventual cooperation aided him in his decision to continue. DeMille's new contract gave him his own production unit, with Paramount retaining only approval of story and budget. As reported in DV , on 25 Sep 1936, DeMille awarded $500 scholarships to three high school graduates who won an essay contest on "The Crusades." According to modern sources, John Carradine was in the film. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
13 Jul 34
p. 2.
Daily Variety
18 Jul 34
p. 3.
Daily Variety
20 Feb 35
p. 5.
Daily Variety
26 Sep 36
p. 4.
Film Daily
5 Aug 35
p. 16.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 35
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Feb 35
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Apr 35
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 35
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
2 Aug 35
p. 16.
Motion Picture Herald
30 Mar 35
pp. 50-51.
Motion Picture Herald
10 Aug 35
p. 47.
Motion Picture Herald
31 Aug 35
p. 33.
MPSI
1 Apr 35
p. 15.
MPSI
1 May 35
p. 26.
MPSI
1 Jun 35
p. 6.
New York Times
22 Aug 35
p. 21.
Variety
28 Aug 35
p. 12.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Joseph Swickard
Alphonz Ethier
John Rutherford
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Cecil B. DeMille Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Contr to trmt
Contr to trmt
Contr to trmt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
Cam op
Asst cam
Asst cam
Tech eff
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Stage eng
COSTUMES
Women's ward
Men's ward
Cost of Miss Young and Miss DeMille des by
MUSIC
Orch dir
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr clerk
Scr clerk
Mike grip
Publicity
Business manager
Set lighting foreman
Set lighting asst
Prop shopman
Casting
Still photog
SOURCES
SONGS
"Song of the Crusades," music by Richard A. Whiting, Leo Robin and Rudolph Kopp, lyrics by Harold Lamb, with special choral lyrics by Jeanie MacPherson.
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 October 1935
Premiere Information:
World premiere, New York, and London opening: 21 August 1935
Production Date:
February--April 1935
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 October 1935
Copyright Number:
LP5869
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
120 or 124-125
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
PCA No:
859
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

When the Saracens take Jerusalem in 1187 A.D. and kill or enslave the Christian population, a holy hermit journeys to all the Christian kingdoms to preach a crusade to retake Jerusalem. King Richard of England, lusty and godless, joins the crusade only to avoid marriage to the disagreeable Alice, sister of King Philip of France. While Richard's brother John and France's Marquis of Montferrat conspire to control England and Palestine, Richard is forced to marry Berengaria, Princess of Navarre, to obtain food from her father to feed his starving army. Richard's rough manner and his use of a proxy in the wedding ceremony alienate Berengaria, but when Richard finally sees his bride, he forces her to accompany him to Palestine. During the long battle to take the city of Acre, John seizes Richard's throne, and Philip of France threatens to support John and leave the crusade unless Richard casts Berengaria aside and marries Alice. Richard's refusal to give Berengaria up overcomes her resistance to him, but the two agree not to consummate their marriage until Jerusalem is taken. Realizing that she is the obstacle to a unified war effort, Berengaria tries to commit suicide by exposing herself to enemy fire, but she is only wounded before Saladin, leader of the Islam forces, takes her away and nurses her to health. Spurred on by Berengaria's capture and the martyrdom of the holy hermit, the Christian armies take Acre and ride on to Jerusalem, where their forces are depleted in heavy fighting. Berengaria agrees to give herself to Saladin if he will save Richard from the treachery of Montferrat, and she plans to keep ... +


When the Saracens take Jerusalem in 1187 A.D. and kill or enslave the Christian population, a holy hermit journeys to all the Christian kingdoms to preach a crusade to retake Jerusalem. King Richard of England, lusty and godless, joins the crusade only to avoid marriage to the disagreeable Alice, sister of King Philip of France. While Richard's brother John and France's Marquis of Montferrat conspire to control England and Palestine, Richard is forced to marry Berengaria, Princess of Navarre, to obtain food from her father to feed his starving army. Richard's rough manner and his use of a proxy in the wedding ceremony alienate Berengaria, but when Richard finally sees his bride, he forces her to accompany him to Palestine. During the long battle to take the city of Acre, John seizes Richard's throne, and Philip of France threatens to support John and leave the crusade unless Richard casts Berengaria aside and marries Alice. Richard's refusal to give Berengaria up overcomes her resistance to him, but the two agree not to consummate their marriage until Jerusalem is taken. Realizing that she is the obstacle to a unified war effort, Berengaria tries to commit suicide by exposing herself to enemy fire, but she is only wounded before Saladin, leader of the Islam forces, takes her away and nurses her to health. Spurred on by Berengaria's capture and the martyrdom of the holy hermit, the Christian armies take Acre and ride on to Jerusalem, where their forces are depleted in heavy fighting. Berengaria agrees to give herself to Saladin if he will save Richard from the treachery of Montferrat, and she plans to keep this promise even after Richard negotiates a peace with Saladin that frees the Christian captives in Jerusalem and opens the city to Christians. Saladin, however, realizes that Berengaria will always love Richard, who has finally come to God, and she is released to join her husband. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.