The Vikings is spectacular, rousing and colorful. Blood flows freely as swords are crossed and arrows meet their mark in barbarian combat. And there's no hesitance about throwing a victim into a wolf pit or a pool of crabs.
The Vikings is spectacular, rousing and colorful. Blood flows freely as swords are crossed and arrows meet their mark in barbarian combat. And there’s no hesitance about throwing a victim into a wolf pit or a pool of crabs.
There is some complication at the start, however, as the various characters are brought into view – as the Viking army of 200 raids the Kingdom of Northumbria, in England, and elements of mystery and intrigue are brought into the story. But it is not too long before the screenplay [from the novel by Edison Marshall] and director Richard Fleischer have their people in clear focus.
History is highly fictionalized. It starts with the raid, the death of the English leader, the succession to the throne of Frank Thring who’s strictly the heavy. The queen is with child, the father being Ernest Borgnine, head of the marauding Vikings. To escape the new king’s wrath she flees to another land and with the proper passage of time the child, now a young man (Tony Curtis), turns up in the Viking village as a slave whose identity is not known.
It is at this point that Curtis encounters Kirk Douglas, latter as heir to the Viking throne. Neither is aware of the fact that the other is his brother. They clash. Janet Leigh participates as daughter of the king of Wales who is to be taken as a bride by the sadistic English king. Douglas falls for Leigh in a big way but she comes to favor Curtis, and thus is established the romantic triangle.
It’s the production that counts and producer Jerry Bresler, working with Douglas’ indie outfit, has done it up big and with apparent authenticity. Lensing was in the Norse fjord area and various parts of Europe, including the Bavarian Studios.
Douglas, doing a bangup, freewheeling job as the ferocious and disfigured Viking fighter, fits the part splendidly. Borgnine’s Viking chief is a conqueror of authority.