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  Norseman, The By Odin's Beard!
Year: 1978
Director: Charles B. Pierce
Stars: Lee Majors, Cornel Wilde, Mel Ferrer, Jack Elam, Susie Coelho, Christopher Connelly, Jimmy Clem, Deacon Jones, Denny Miller, Fred Biletnikoff, Seamon Glass, Kathleen Freeman, Jerry Daniels, Steve Denny, Chuck Pierce Jr, Jesse Pearson
Genre: Trash, Historical, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: The year is 1006 A.D. and the Viking hordes have conquered most of Europe and other territories further afield as well, but one location history has not remembered them visiting was the continent of North America. However, it did happen, and Thorvald the Bold (Lee Majors) has set sail across the Atlantic after his missing father King Eurich (Mel Ferrer) who also undertook the journey but has never returned. Thorvald has a hardy crew with him, which includes his right hand man Ragnar (Cornel Wilde), his seer (Jack Elam) and his younger brother Eric (Chuck Pierce Jr), and they are ready for anything the excursion can throw at them, everything that is until they sight land and are plunged into an adventure generations to come would decree unbelievable...

About as unbelievable as this film, a project produced by the erstwhile Six Million Dollar Man Lee Majors with the company set up by himself and his wife Farrah Fawcett to provide starring roles for them. For some reason Mr Majors saw this low budget A.I.P. effort, directed by Charles B. Pierce who had helmed The Legend of Boggy Creek a few years before, as the ideal vehicle for his talent, in spite of damn few folks looking at Colonel Steve Austin and thinking, it's OK, but he needs to be wearing a helmet with a car ornament on it. Thus The Norseman arrived for our delectation, one of the most derided movies of its era even if it did pick up a few followers among those viewers too young to know any better.

The notion of pitting Vikings versus Indians was part of a history that was pretty much discredited at the time, though they had the last laugh when archaeological evidence was found that the Norse warriors did indeed visit those far off shores. Well, maybe not the very last laugh as everyone else would be laughing at this film for decades to come, as even with the facts backing them up this looked like a strained attempt to craft an epic in the vein of the semi-classic The Vikings from the fifties, only combine it with an easier to travel to location than Norway and as a result make the world's only Viking Western as when the two tribes meet it's hate at first sight and they spend an inordinate amount of time chasing each other from the village to the longship and back and forth and so on.

It didn't help that nobody had told Majors you don't pronounce the word "Norse" as "Noarz", just one example of the unintended hilarity on offer should you decide to give this a go. Then there was the costume department which adorned its cast in the most outlandish wigs and beards - Ferrer bears a distracting resemblance to Dougal from The Magic Roundabout, for one - and for the lads from Scandinavia every one of them wore a helmet with horns on it, which every schoolboy knows the real thing never did. Almost every one: Thorvald has a little man on his, and the seer wears a cloak which doesn't disguise a hump on his back the size of a Galapagos tortoise and we are frequently told his face is never seen, no matter that the instantly familiar phizzog of Jack Elam is constantly on display.

This is actually a rescue mission flick as wouldn't you know, as luck would have it Thorvald and his amazing friends show up at exactly the same beach that Eurich and company did (must be something to do with currents and tides) so can set about saving them. The captured Vikings have met a horrible fate, blinded and forced to grind corn for the natives while guarded by the fattest Indians around, but someone is on their side, Winetta (not Waynetta), played by future Mrs Sonny Bono Susie Coelho who here is a token nice Indian and sets about assisting the visitors. If you've ever watched an episode of Majors' seventies action series then you'll know there was a heavy degree of slow motion used to make it appear as if the Bionic Man was using incredible strength (much like The Incredible Hulk, really), and Pierce picked up on this, creating one of the most drawn out action finales you ever did see, with practically the whole thing in ludicrous slo-mo. Convincing doesn't enter into it, this was a farcical pantomime that in the right mood could be a tip-top comedy. Music by Jaime Mendoza-Nava.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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