Camelot (1967)

179 mins | Fantasy | 25 October 1967

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HISTORY

Camelot was adapted from the stage musical of the same name, which was inspired by the T. H. White novel The Once and Future King (1958) and opened 3 Dec 1960 at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway. The show played for a total of 873 performances in its original run, earning Richard Burton a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical and a Best Actress nomination for Julie Andrews, who originated the roles of “King Arthur” and “Guenevere.” On 12 Apr 1961, LAT and NYT announced that Warner Bros. Pictures paid roughly $2 million (plus a percentage of the eventual profits) to option rights for a film adaptation written by book author and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. Other contemporary sources estimated a slightly lower figure closer to $1.5 million. Although not as high as the $5.5 million cash sum Warner Bros. went on to pay for Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s My Fair Lady later that year, a 24 Jul 1962 LAT article suggested that the purchase was one of many that indicated the entertainment industry’s renewed interest in film musicals after a long period of doubt about their profitability.
       At this stage of development, items in the 28 Apr 1961 and 18 Jan 1962 LAT stated that Rock Hudson was attached to play Arthur and had begun singing lessons with Dean Campbell, while the 2 Oct 1961 issue claimed that Shirley Jones was in discussions to co-star. By the following spring, however, the 20 Mar 1962 DV was reporting that Audrey Hepburn intended to appear in both Camelot ... More Less

Camelot was adapted from the stage musical of the same name, which was inspired by the T. H. White novel The Once and Future King (1958) and opened 3 Dec 1960 at the Majestic Theatre on Broadway. The show played for a total of 873 performances in its original run, earning Richard Burton a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical and a Best Actress nomination for Julie Andrews, who originated the roles of “King Arthur” and “Guenevere.” On 12 Apr 1961, LAT and NYT announced that Warner Bros. Pictures paid roughly $2 million (plus a percentage of the eventual profits) to option rights for a film adaptation written by book author and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner. Other contemporary sources estimated a slightly lower figure closer to $1.5 million. Although not as high as the $5.5 million cash sum Warner Bros. went on to pay for Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s My Fair Lady later that year, a 24 Jul 1962 LAT article suggested that the purchase was one of many that indicated the entertainment industry’s renewed interest in film musicals after a long period of doubt about their profitability.
       At this stage of development, items in the 28 Apr 1961 and 18 Jan 1962 LAT stated that Rock Hudson was attached to play Arthur and had begun singing lessons with Dean Campbell, while the 2 Oct 1961 issue claimed that Shirley Jones was in discussions to co-star. By the following spring, however, the 20 Mar 1962 DV was reporting that Audrey Hepburn intended to appear in both Camelot and My Fair Lady (1964, see entry), with Lerner’s role expanded to writer-producer on both projects. Another news item published in the 16 May 1962 LAT indicated that Richard Burton’s consideration for the role of “Henry Higgins” (eventually played by Rex Harrison) in My Fair Lady was contingent on his also signing to reprise King Arthur opposite Elizabeth Taylor’s Guenevere.
       Rumors of the Burton-Taylor pairing continued well into the new year, when the 22 Apr 1963 DV announced the appointment of former television production head William T. Orr as the film’s producer. At this time, Warner Bros. was also considering casting Burton’s stage co-star Robert Goulet as “Lancelot Du Lac.” By the end of the year, Orr left the project after being promoted to serve as the executive assistant to studio president Jack L. Warner. Rex Harrison was now in talks for the leading role.
       As the original deal stipulated that the motion picture version of Camelot could not be released before Apr 1964, the project was shelved for several years while Warner Bros. moved ahead with My Fair Lady, which received eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture. On 21 Feb 1966, DV reported that the screenplay for Camelot had been completed and pre-production endeavors seriously underway, with Jack L. Warner personally stepping in as Orr’s replacement and a secure commitment from Joshua Logan, the studio’s original choice of director. According to a 1 Nov 1966 LAT article, Vanessa Redgrave was cast after Logan and Warner viewed her performance in Morgan – A Suitable Case for Treatment (1966). Richard Harris reportedly requested that Logan let him audition for King Arthur—a story corroborated in the 29 Dec 1966 DV, which detailed the many complications that nearly prevented his recording a screen test. To distinguish himself from previous iterations of the role, Harris did not view any of the stage productions, and avoided listening to the cast recordings until he completed work on the film.
       Several changes were made for the screen that deviated from the source material—most notably the elimination of the character of “Morgan LeFay,” and the shift from the 14th century setting to an older, less identifiable period closer to the 6th or 8th centuries. Because many castles in England had been repaired or restored, Logan and scenic designer Jo Mielziner opted to find a medieval structure in Spain. After scouting locations in Manzanares El Real, Coca, Valladolid, and Córdoba, filmmakers selected Bellver Castle in Majorca to represent Arthur’s “Camelot.” However, production supervisor Dutch Meyer revisited the site shortly before filming and discovered that the large influx of tourism would undoubtedly hinder the production. Logan told the 1 Nov 1966 LAT that a total of eight castles were used in the film, but the castle at Coca, Segovia, was primarily featured as the titular fortress. A 31 Aug 1966 Var article indicated that principal photography began 27 Aug 1966 in the Casa del Campo in Madrid.
       According to the “Movie Call Sheet” column in the 1 Oct 1966 and 25 Nov 1966 LAT, Fred Abbott, Michael Kilgarriff, and Leon Greene appeared in scenes filmed in Spain. The 2 Sep 1966 edition stated that brothers Tap and Joe Canutt supervised the stunts required for Harris and co-star Franco Nero while on location.
       After roughly six weeks working in Spain, the unit took an extended break until Vanessa Redgrave completed her role in the London stage production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. On 2 Dec 1966, multiple sources reported attending a press luncheon hosted by Warner on Stage 7 of the Burbank studios, which housed the “Great Hall” set. According to a 2 May 1967 LAT article, this was just one of forty-five total sets constructed on the backlot before photography resumed on 5 Dec 1966. Approximately 3,500 costumes were created, costing $2.25 million. Rain stalled production of a key outdoor sequence, and several minor inconveniences arose with the horses on set. A 30 Mar 1967 NYT news item claimed that Richard Harris received twelve stitches to the head after falling in the shower, and was temporarily waylaid from shooting. According to a 27 Apr 1967 DV article, Tap and Joe Canutt returned to the production to double for Franco Nero and Anthony Rogers in the jousting tournament sequence. The device used to knock the characters from their horses was created by their father, Academy Award-winning stuntman Yakima Canutt. Production concluded the following day, 28 Apr 1967. Negative costs reportedly totaled $13 million.
       LAT and DV casting announcements throughout the second leg of production indicated the involvement of multiple actors whose participation could not be confirmed: Bob Turnbull as the “Handsome knight,” Russ McCubbin as the “Savage brute,” and Cal Bolder as the “Horrible brute” of Lady Guenevere’s dream sequence; Peter Hale as a Scottish knight; Kirtis Birtell; Marc Harris; Kelly Fitzpatrick; and a grip named Gino Mendez, whose physique won him an onscreen role as a blacksmith.
       According to the 16 Sep 1967 LAT, Logan hoped to avoid the “velvet-perfect sound of prerecording” and instead favored live vocal takes similar to what he used with Marilyn Monroe when she sang “That Old Black Magic” for the 1956 film, Bus Stop (see entry). However, the 28 Feb 1968 Var referenced a statement in Filmfacts revealing that the role of Lancelot was sung entirely by Gene Merlino and Redgrave’s high notes dubbed by another vocalist, although neither of these claims were confirmed by Warner Bros. or Seven Arts.
       Before production was even completed, the 2 Dec 1966 NYT announced that Warner Bros. had already booked a New York City premiere date of 25 Oct 1967 at the Warner Theatre on Broadway and 47th Street. The Los Angeles, CA, benefit premiere followed on 1 Nov 1967 at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood. Some roadshow screenings featured a 70mm blow-up that ran 179 minutes (excluding overture and intermission). Both East and West Coast engagements had “hardticket” (reserved seat) sales, and the 16 Nov 1967 LAT hinted at the film’s popularity after the Cinerama Dome received a record number of advance bookings. Over the next few weeks, the venue hosted several events and screenings benefitting various schools and charitable organizations.
       Camelot garnered Academy Awards for Art Direction, Costume Design, and Music (Scoring of Music—adaptation or treatment), as well as nominations for Cinematography and Sound. The song, “If Ever I Would Leave You,” received a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song – Motion Picture, while Richard Harris and Frederick Loewe won their respective categories for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy, and Best Original Score – Motion Picture.
       Richard Burton returned to his stage role in 1980, which began its run at the New York State Theatre before continuing at the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood. Harris, by then a “dear friend” of Burton’s, stepped in for the remainder of the West Coast run in Apr 1981 while Burton underwent back surgery. He then reprised the character of Arthur in another Broadway revival at the Winter Garden Theatre later that year, and again for a cable television adaptation that aired on HBO in 1982. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Mar 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Apr 1963
p. 1.
Daily Variety
30 Dec 1963
p. 1.
Daily Variety
21 Feb 1966
p. 1.
Daily Variety
26 Aug 1966
p. 9.
Daily Variety
31 Aug 1966
p. 23.
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1966
p. 1, 22.
Daily Variety
2 Dec 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
29 Dec 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Feb 1967
p. 4.
Daily Variety
27 Apr 1967
p. 2.
Los Angeles Times
12 Apr 1961
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
28 Apr 1961
Section B, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
2 Oct 1961
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jan 1962
Section A, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
16 May 1962
Section D, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
24 Jul 1962
Section D, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
2 Sep 1966
Section C, p. 16.
Los Angeles Times
1 Oct 1966
p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
1 Nov 1966
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
25 Nov 1966
Section D, p. 30.
Los Angeles Times
26 Dec 1966
Section D, p. 31.
Los Angeles Times
12 Jan 1967
Section C, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
3 Feb 1967
Section D, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
9 Feb 1967
Section E, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
2 May 1967
Section D, p. 1, 13.
Los Angeles Times
16 Sep 1967
p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
3 Nov 1967
Section C, p 1, 10.
Los Angeles Times
16 Nov 1967
Section D, p. 19.
Los Angeles Times
4 Apr 1981
Section B, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
27 Apr 1981
Section G, p. 1, 3.
New York Times
12 Apr 1961
p. 47.
New York Times
2 Dec 1966
p. 41.
New York Times
30 Mar 1967
p. 54.
New York Times
26 Oct 1967
p. 53.
New York Times
16 Nov 1981
Section C, p. 16.
New York Times
24 Sep 1982
Section C, p. 27.
Variety
31 Aug 1966
p. 23.
Variety
25 Oct 1967
p. 6.
Variety
28 Feb 1968
p. 1, 55.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir action sequence
Dir action sequence
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir & sets
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus supv & cond
Assoc mus supv
Orch
Orch
Orch
Orch
Mus staging assoc
Mus liaison
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Asst to the prod
Speech cons
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Camelot , book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe (New York, 3 Dec 1960) and the novel The Once and Future King by T. H. White (London, 1958).
SONGS
"Camelot," "C'est Moi," Follow Me," "Children's Chorus," "Guenevere," "How to Handle a Woman," "If Ever I Would Leave You," "I Loved You Once in Silence," "I Wonder What the King Is Doing Tonight," "The Lusty Month of May," "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood," "Then You May Take Me to the Fair," and "What Do the Simple Folk Do?," music by Frederick Loewe, lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner.
DETAILS
Release Date:
25 October 1967
Premiere Information:
New York premiere and opening: 25 October 1967
Los Angeles premiere and opening: 1 November 1967
Production Date:
27 August--October 1966
5 December 1966--28 April 1967
Copyright Claimant:
Warner Bros.--Seven Arts, Inc.
Copyright Date:
21 October 1967
Copyright Number:
LP38107
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision, see note
Duration(in mins):
179
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

In England long ago, King Arthur first encounters his bride-to-be, Guenevere, in the enchanted forest surrounding his castle at Camelot. Following their royal wedding, Arthur's happiness inspires him to establish The Knights of the Round Table, an order of chivalry in which all members will be bound by a common desire to aid the oppressed, keeping faith with trust and honor. A young knight, Lancelot Du Lac, journeys to England to join the order when Arthur's call reaches France. Brave and purehearted, Lancelot quickly becomes the most celebrated of all Arthur's knights. Guenevere at first resents his popularity, but after watching him apparently breathe life back into the body of a knight he has wounded in a jousting match, her scorn turns to admiration and ultimately to love. Despite their deep affection for Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot become secret lovers. Arthur refuses to pay heed to the rumors circulating throughout his court and sends into exile all those who defile the names of Lancelot and Guenevere. Arthur's illegitimate son, Mordred, arrives at Camelot to seek a declaration of his identity, and when he is refused, he spitefully wins the aid of several knights in trapping Lancelot and Guenevere in a love tryst. Lancelot escapes, but Guenevere is found guilty at a trial by jury and sentenced to be burned at the stake. Forced to support the ruling of his own court, Arthur watches in grateful silence when Lancelot rides into the courtyard, frees Guenevere, and carries her to safety. Guenevere enters a convent, and as Arthur and Lancelot prepare to battle, Arthur reflects sadly on the dream that was to have been Camelot. Songs : "I ... +


In England long ago, King Arthur first encounters his bride-to-be, Guenevere, in the enchanted forest surrounding his castle at Camelot. Following their royal wedding, Arthur's happiness inspires him to establish The Knights of the Round Table, an order of chivalry in which all members will be bound by a common desire to aid the oppressed, keeping faith with trust and honor. A young knight, Lancelot Du Lac, journeys to England to join the order when Arthur's call reaches France. Brave and purehearted, Lancelot quickly becomes the most celebrated of all Arthur's knights. Guenevere at first resents his popularity, but after watching him apparently breathe life back into the body of a knight he has wounded in a jousting match, her scorn turns to admiration and ultimately to love. Despite their deep affection for Arthur, Guenevere and Lancelot become secret lovers. Arthur refuses to pay heed to the rumors circulating throughout his court and sends into exile all those who defile the names of Lancelot and Guenevere. Arthur's illegitimate son, Mordred, arrives at Camelot to seek a declaration of his identity, and when he is refused, he spitefully wins the aid of several knights in trapping Lancelot and Guenevere in a love tryst. Lancelot escapes, but Guenevere is found guilty at a trial by jury and sentenced to be burned at the stake. Forced to support the ruling of his own court, Arthur watches in grateful silence when Lancelot rides into the courtyard, frees Guenevere, and carries her to safety. Guenevere enters a convent, and as Arthur and Lancelot prepare to battle, Arthur reflects sadly on the dream that was to have been Camelot. Songs : "I Wonder What the King Is Doing Tonight" (King Arthur); "The Simple Joys of Maidenhood" (Guenevere); "Camelot" (chorus & King Arthur); "C'est moi" (Lancelot); "The Lusty Month of May" (Guenevere & chorus); "Follow Me," "Children's Chorus" (chorus); "How To Handle a Woman" (King Arthur); "Take Me to the Fair" (Guenevere, Sir Lionel, Sir Dinaden & Sir Sagramore); "If Ever I Would Leave You" (Lancelot); "What Do the Simple Folks Do?" (King Arthur & Guenevere); "I Loved You Once in Silence" (Guenevere); "Guenevere" (chorus). +

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

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