Ivanhoe (1953)

106-107 mins | Adventure, Romance | 20 February 1953

Producer:

Pandro S. Berman

Cinematographer:

F. A. Young

Editor:

Frank Clarke

Production Designer:

Alfred Junge

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The film's opening title card reads: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe ." HR news items and other contemporary sources offer the following additional information about the production: M-G-M had planned to adapt Scott's novel to the screen as early as 1937. At that time, the production was to be shot at M-G-M's British studios, with Robert Taylor announced as the star. Various news items in 1937 and 1938 also mentioned M-G-M stars Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Luise Rainer, Lionel Barrymore and Wallace Beery as possible co-stars with Taylor. Following the outbreak of war in 1939, pre-production on the film was halted.
       According to a NYT article, in 1947, when producer Dore Schary was at RKO, he became interested in adapting Scott’s novel for the screen. When he left RKO to become head of production at M-G-M, he brought the property with him, then in 1949, producer Pandro S. Berman began pre-production on the film and assigned writer Marguerite Roberts to work on the script. At that time, according to a NYT article, Roberts was to alter the story so that “Isaac’s avarice will be considerably moderated” from Scott’s novel. In early Jan 1951, Noel Langley was brought on as the film’s co-screenwriter. Only Langley received a screenplay credit on the film, with Aeneas MacKenzie credited with adaptation. According to HR news items in 1951, M-G-M received permission from the SWG (Screen Writer’s Guild) to remove Roberts’ name from the film after she refused to testify before HUAC. A cutting continuity of the film, on deposit with copyright ... More Less

The film's opening title card reads: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe ." HR news items and other contemporary sources offer the following additional information about the production: M-G-M had planned to adapt Scott's novel to the screen as early as 1937. At that time, the production was to be shot at M-G-M's British studios, with Robert Taylor announced as the star. Various news items in 1937 and 1938 also mentioned M-G-M stars Clark Gable, Myrna Loy, Luise Rainer, Lionel Barrymore and Wallace Beery as possible co-stars with Taylor. Following the outbreak of war in 1939, pre-production on the film was halted.
       According to a NYT article, in 1947, when producer Dore Schary was at RKO, he became interested in adapting Scott’s novel for the screen. When he left RKO to become head of production at M-G-M, he brought the property with him, then in 1949, producer Pandro S. Berman began pre-production on the film and assigned writer Marguerite Roberts to work on the script. At that time, according to a NYT article, Roberts was to alter the story so that “Isaac’s avarice will be considerably moderated” from Scott’s novel. In early Jan 1951, Noel Langley was brought on as the film’s co-screenwriter. Only Langley received a screenplay credit on the film, with Aeneas MacKenzie credited with adaptation. According to HR news items in 1951, M-G-M received permission from the SWG (Screen Writer’s Guild) to remove Roberts’ name from the film after she refused to testify before HUAC. A cutting continuity of the film, on deposit with copyright records, indicates the removal of Roberts' name from the previously typed credits with the handwritten notation "not on film." In 1997, her credit was restored by the WGA (Writer’s Guild of America).
       When M-G-M revived the production, a decision was made to go ahead with the film at M-G-M's British studios, with Taylor as the star, just as planned in the late 1930s. According to a HR news item, Kathleen Bourne from M-G-M's story department, and Cyril Cambridge, from the electrical department, went to England to determine requirements for the production, along with cinematographer F. A. Young, but the exact contribution to the film of Bourne and Cambridge has not been ascertained. Just prior to the start of production, actress Deborah Kerr, who was to portray “Rowena,” had to drop out of the cast because she was pregnant. Actor Stuart Raymond was cast in the film, according to a HR news item, but his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
       The picture was filmed entirely on location in England, with some of the castle sequences filmed in a reproduction of Torquilstone, a twelfth century Norman castle. Although a studio press release indicated that Taylor would sing for the first time onscreen, he had actually sung, briefly, in the 1935 M-G-M film Broadway Melody of 1936 (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ).
       According to news items and studio press materials, the studio launched one of their largest publicity campaigns in many years for the film. A 22 Jul 1952 HR news item noted that, on behalf of M-G-M, Maurice Wolf was scheduled to give a series of lectures of Ivanhoe for various clubs, including the Rotarians, the Lions and the Kiwanis. According to a 9 Sep 1952 news item, the film had taken in $1,310,590 at the box office in thirty-nine days of limited release, setting a record for an M-G-M film. According to MPA , the film was the second highest-grossing film of 1952, taking in more than $7,000,000 at the box office. Ivanhoe received an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture. The film received two other nominations, one for Young for Best Cinematography (Color) and one for Miklos Rozsa for Best Score.
       The Saxon-Norman conflict, which is a major theme in the film, began following the Battle of Hastings in 1066, when the Norman William the Conqueror defeated the then-ruling Saxons. Modern historical sources note that the conflict between the groups was no longer a factor by the late twelfth century, but that Scott chose to incorporate the animosity between the two groups for his novel. The legendary character Robin Hood was only called "Locksley" in the film. For additional information on films featuring the character, please see the entry for the 1938 Warner Bros. picture The Adventures of Robin Hood in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 .
       There have been many film adaptations of Scott's novel, including several silent short films and Italian-language features. Universal released a feature-length version in 1913, directed by Herbert Brenon in England and starring King Baggot (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ). A British feature film, entitled Rebecca the Jewess was also released in 1913. There was a British television series entitled Ivanhoe that ran from 1957 to 1958, starring Roger Moore, and a British mini-series of the same title, produced in 1997.

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GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
21 Jun 1952.
---
Daily Variety
9 Apr 1938.
---
Daily Variety
16 Jun 1952
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 Jun 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Citizen-News
10 Oct 1952.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jul 1937
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Nov 1949.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 1950
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Jan 1951
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
3 May 1951
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jul 1951
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jul 1951
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jul 1951
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Sep 1951
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Sep 1951
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Apr 1952
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 1952
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 1952
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 1952
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 1952
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Aug 1952
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Sep 1952
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Oct 1997.
---
Life
11 Aug 1952.
---
Los Angeles Daily News
25 Sep 1952.
---
Los Angeles Examiner
6 Oct 1952.
---
Los Angeles Times
10 Oct 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
21 Jun 1952
p. 1417.
New York Times
13 Nov 1949.
---
New York Times
6 Jul 1952.
---
New York Times
31 Jul 1952
p. 13.
New York Times
1 Aug 1952
p. 8.
New Yorker
9 Aug 1952.
---
Saturday Review
2 Aug 1952.
---
The Times (London)
15 Jun 1952.
---
Time
4 Aug 1952.
---
Variety
29 Aug 1951.
---
Variety
12 Sep 1951.
---
Variety
11 Jun 1952
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Photog eff
MAKEUP
Hairdressing
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (Edinburgh, 1819).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"The Song of Ivanhoe," music by Miklos Rozsa, lyrics by Marguerite Roberts.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe
Release Date:
20 February 1953
Premiere Information:
London opening: mid-June 1952
New York opening: 31 July 1952
Los Angeles roadshow opening: 9 October 1952
Production Date:
mid July--mid September 1951 at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, Boreham Wood, Elstree, England
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
30 June 1952
Copyright Number:
LP1798
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
106-107
Length(in feet):
9,586
Length(in reels):
12
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
15505
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In late twelfth century England, Saxons and Normans retain lingering hatred of one another. Unpopular Norman Prince John has ruled England since his brother, King Richard, left for the Holy Land to lead the Third Crusade, and many assume that Richard is now dead. During Saxon Ivanhoe’s long journey back to England, however, he finds Richard in an Austrian prison, languishing because John will not pay his ransom. Once back in England, Ivanhoe disguises himself as a minstrel and goes to the castle of his father Cedric, with whom he became estranged when he left for the Holy Land. While Cedric offers hospitality in his banquet hall to both Norman and Saxon travelers, Ivanhoe is recognized only by his faithful servant, Wamba. Wamba takes him to see Rowena, Cedric’s ward, whom Ivanhoe has loved since childhood. Ivanhoe returns to the banquet hall just as another traveler, a Jew named Isaac, seeks refuge for the night. Although the Normans present, including De Bois-Guilbert and Sir Hugh De Bracy, protest, Cedric offers hospitality to Isaac, insisting that everyone is welcome at his table. As they dine, the Normans discuss a tournament that will soon take place in Ashby, prompting Guilbert to recall a past tournament during which a masked Saxon knight named Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe bested him, then disappeared. Cedric then bitterly says that Ivanhoe was his son, but is now dead to him. Ivanhoe later reveals himself to Cedric and asks for money to save Richard, but Cedric is convinced the king is dead and refuses. Ivanhoe tells Rowena that he will see her after winning the tournament, then ... +


In late twelfth century England, Saxons and Normans retain lingering hatred of one another. Unpopular Norman Prince John has ruled England since his brother, King Richard, left for the Holy Land to lead the Third Crusade, and many assume that Richard is now dead. During Saxon Ivanhoe’s long journey back to England, however, he finds Richard in an Austrian prison, languishing because John will not pay his ransom. Once back in England, Ivanhoe disguises himself as a minstrel and goes to the castle of his father Cedric, with whom he became estranged when he left for the Holy Land. While Cedric offers hospitality in his banquet hall to both Norman and Saxon travelers, Ivanhoe is recognized only by his faithful servant, Wamba. Wamba takes him to see Rowena, Cedric’s ward, whom Ivanhoe has loved since childhood. Ivanhoe returns to the banquet hall just as another traveler, a Jew named Isaac, seeks refuge for the night. Although the Normans present, including De Bois-Guilbert and Sir Hugh De Bracy, protest, Cedric offers hospitality to Isaac, insisting that everyone is welcome at his table. As they dine, the Normans discuss a tournament that will soon take place in Ashby, prompting Guilbert to recall a past tournament during which a masked Saxon knight named Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe bested him, then disappeared. Cedric then bitterly says that Ivanhoe was his son, but is now dead to him. Ivanhoe later reveals himself to Cedric and asks for money to save Richard, but Cedric is convinced the king is dead and refuses. Ivanhoe tells Rowena that he will see her after winning the tournament, then leaves with Wamba. Later that night, Norman soldiers attempt to rob Isaac, who has been forced to sleep in the barn, but Ivanhoe and Wamba interrupt the attack. A grateful Isaac then takes Ivanhoe and Wamba to his home in Sheffield, where Ivanhoe asks Isaac to help raise money for Richard’s ransom. Isaac does not find Richard any more sympathetic to Jews than John, but because Isaac is in Ivanhoe’s debt, he promises to supplement whatever money is raised. The next night, a young woman who says that she is the servant of Isaac’s daughter Rebecca, approaches Ivanhoe at the inn at which he is staying and offers jewels to finance his kit in the tournament. Looking closely at her eyes, Ivanhoe recognizes her as the beautiful woman he noticed at the window of Isaac’s house and deduces that she is Rebecca. On the day of the tournament, Prince John presides as well-outfitted Normans defeat ragged Saxon challengers. Then Ivanhoe rides onto the field, suited in black and identifying himself only as a Saxon. The Saxons cheer as he challenges, then bests, five Norman knights. Despite a wound in the shoulder, Ivanhoe stays on his horse and is declared the winner. As the victor, Ivanhoe selects Rowena as the tournament’s Queen of Love and Beauty, then must fight Guilbert, who now recognizes him. After a fierce battle, Ivanhoe is knocked from his horse and carried off the field. Rebecca, who tells Rowena that she has learned the medical arts from a woman burned as a witch, attends to Ivanhoe’s serious wounds. Although Rowena senses that Rebecca loves Ivanhoe, she knows that he will be well cared for by her and allows him to be taken to Isaac’s house. Their departure is observed by a Norman who tells Guilbert. That night, Guilbert tells John about Ivanhoe’s attempts to raise Richard’s ransom money and the involvement of Isaac, who is a wealthy banker. Meanwhile, in Sheffield, Rebecca confesses her love to the unconscious Ivanhoe, but is gently warned by her father that her love is impossible because she is a Jew. When Ivanhoe awakens, Isaac tells him that money for the ransom is growing, just as Wamba and Locksley, a Saxon nobleman who lives in the forest, arrive to warn him that “Prince John’s jackals” are after him. Wamba adds that Cedric and Rebecca have come to Sheffield to be near him, prompting Ivanhoe to ask Wamba to take Rebecca to Cedric while he hides in the forest with Locksley. By the time Guilbert and De Bracey arrive at Sheffield, Ivanhoe is gone, further angering Guilbert. He and his men soon find the caravan on which Rebecca and Rowena are traveling, and take the women, Cedric and Wamba prisoner. Hearing of their capture, Ivanhoe approaches Guilbert’s castle and asks that he be allowed to take their place. Guilbert agrees, then Ivanhoe enters the courtyard and asks to speak to Cedric, with whom he reconciles. Instead of allowing Cedric and the others to leave, however, Guilbert breaks his word and puts both men in chains. Upstairs, the ambitious De Bracy proposes to Rowena, who is the last of the royal Saxons, but she slaps him. Later Guilbert, who desires Rebecca, tells her that he must possess her. She runs to the balcony and threatens to jump, but when he offers to free Ivanhoe if she returns his passion, she agrees. Just then Locksley and his archers surround the castle. Guilbert has Ivanhoe brought up from the dungeon and threatens to hang him, but Ivanhoe is able to escape when the archers fire arrows at his guards. As a battle ensues, Ivanhoe frees the men in the dungeon, but in doing so a fire erupts that envelopes Wamba. As more of Locksley’s men storm the castle, Ivanhoe rescues Rowena from De Bracy, but Guilbert escapes by using Rebecca as a shield. When Guilbert brings Rebecca to Prince John’s court, John and his advisors come up with a plan to use their captive. A few days later, Isaac tells Ivanhoe that the king’s ransom money has been raised, but Ivanhoe reveals that John has demanded the same amount to free Rebecca or she will be burned as a witch. Isaac tells Ivanhoe that it is his responsibility to free Rebecca and insists that the money raised be sent to ransom Richard. Seeing Ivanhoe’s concern, Rowena reveals her fears that he is in love with Rebecca, but he denies it. At Rebecca’s trial, paid and coerced witnesses testify that she is a witch, and only Guilbert defends her. After Rebecca denies that she is a witch, Guilbert asks to speak with her privately and begs her to renounce her faith to save her life. After her refusal, the court sentences her to burn at the stake. Just then, Ivanhoe, who has secretly watched the trial, throws down his glove and challenges the court to determine her guilt by a battle with her champion. John accepts the challenge and chooses Guilbert as his champion for a fight to the death at Ashby. Moments before the tournament, Guilbert offers to default to Ivanhoe if Rebecca will only accept his love, but Rebecca answers that they are in God’s hands. While Guilbert and Ivanhoe battle hand-to-hand with ball and chain, Richard and his men ride onto the field, forcing John to bow in submission. Ivanhoe finally defeats Guilbert, who dies after telling Rebecca he loves her and that fate made her love Ivanhoe instead of him. After Guilbert dies, Rowena questions Rebecca about Ivanhoe, but she insists that his heart belongs to Rowena. +

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

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