Probably only Cecil B. DeMille could make a picture like The Crusades – and get away with it. It’s long, and the story is not up to some of his previous films, but the production has sweep and spectacle.
DeMille patently intended his puppets to be subjugated by the generally transcendental theme of this holy war on the infidels. The loose footage at times defeats that. There is no great surge of human sympathy for the ecclesiastic offensive. Only the pious wandering hermit (capably done by C. Aubrey Smith) stands out as the sole symbol of the faith in the invasion of Acre and Jerusalem. Richard-the-Lion-Hearted frankly accepts the call to arms for selfish reasons – the only out he has to sidestep the state marriage to the French king’s sister (Loretta Young).
Henry Wilcoxon plays Richard. Full weight of The Crusades falls on his performance. For sheer versatility, ranging from horsemanship to boudoir, there are few players who could have done as well.
1935: Nomination: Best Cinematography