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  Magic Sword, The The Old George And DragonBuy this film here.
Year: 1962
Director: Bert I. Gordon
Stars: Basil Rathbone, Estelle Winwood, Gary Lockwood, Anne Helm, Liam Sullivan, Danielle De Metz, Merritt Stone, Jacques Gallo, David R. Cross, Vampira, Angelo Rossitto, Richard Kiel
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Rating:  5 (from 2 votes)
Review: Sybil (Estelle Winwood) is a sorceress of the decent variety, and is lamenting her adopted son George (Gary Lockwood), now grown into a man, is more interested in Princess Helene (Anne Helm) than learning any more from her. Sybil doesn't think the Princess is worth pursuing, but George is smitten and spies on her bathing in a pond through the use of a magic lake which shows him all he wants - something handy picked up from mother. But as Helene is drying off, an apparition appears and spirits her away - could this be something to do with the evil wizard Lodac (Basil Rathbone)?

Why, yes, it could. This was producer and director Bert I. Gordon's attempt at a St George and the Dragon style rendering of a tale of yore, a venerable legend that here is reduced to something you might have seen on television of the day, the budget not being particularly high. It certainly begins on sitcom level, and if it were not bad enough that our dashing hero is a Peeping Tom, he also has an overinflated opinion of himself. When Helene is kidnapped as revenge against the King's execution of Lodac's sister, George thinks it will be a cinch to get her back.

Especially when he has the assistance of his mother's magic armour, shield and, but of course, that sword of the title, which glows at crucial points so you know it's something special. Not that Sybil wants him to go, and he is forced to lock her in a cellar to get away - is that any way to treat your mother? To help along the journey, George additionally revives six knights of various nationalities and varying degrees of convincing accents, so they can be the suckers who succumb to the seven deadly curses of Lodac instead of him.

Off they trot, and the first curse they meet is an ogre, as being a Bert I. Gordon film they had to go up against a giant monster somewhere along the way, the dragon granted. After a while the story looks as if it could have been adapted into a pretty good computer game, with George and the boys moving up a level with each curse and losing lives in the process. Such things were not thought of in 1962 however, and it just means the experience is a bit of a plod through encounters with such dangers as a killer jacuzzi and a spinning hypno-wheel that will turn you into a zombie.

All the while we keep cutting back to Lodac and Rathbone emoting as if he were offering us his Richard the Third rather than a cut-price trickster. He gleefully feeds some other princesses to the dragon, cunningly kept off screen until the last possible moment, and commands an army of what appear to be Saturday Night Live's Coneheads, lifting the enterprise a notch whenever he appears. Lockwood settles down into being a pretty stock protagonist for this kind of thing, and a few horror moments, some provided by a heavily made-up Vampira herself (you know, from Plan 9 from Outer Space), sustain your waning interest until an admittedly fairly impressive dragon climaxes the film. If you don't mind its decidedly Californian approach to Merrie Old English myth, then The Magic Sword is fine for what it is. Music by Richard Markowitz.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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Bert I. Gordon  (1922 - )

Known as Mister B.I.G., this American writer, director and producer came from advertising to make a host of giant monster movies in the 1950s - King Dinosaur, Beginning of the End, The Cyclops, The Amazing Colossal Man, Earth vs the Spider and War of the Colossal Beast. Attack of the Puppet People featured minituarisation, as a variation.

The 60s saw him make various fantasy and horror movies, such as Tormented, The Magic Sword, Village of the Giants and Picture Mommy Dead. The 1970s only offered two giant monster movies, Food of the Gods and Empire of the Ants, plus horror Necromancy and thriller The Mad Bomber. Subsequent films in the eighties were made with the video market in mind, and he made a comeback in 2015 at the age of 93 (!) with psycho-horror Secrets of a Psychopath.

 
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