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Camelot (film)

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Title: Camelot (film)  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Camelot (musical), 25th Golden Globe Awards, 40th Academy Awards, Franco Nero, Alan Jay Lerner
Collection: 1960S Comedy-Drama Films, 1960S Musical Comedy Films, 1960S Romantic Comedy Films, 1967 Films, American Comedy-Drama Films, American Films, American Musical Comedy Films, American Musical Drama Films, American Romantic Musical Films, Arthurian Film and Television, Arthurian Films, English-Language Films, Film Scores by Frederick Loewe, Films About Royalty, Films Based on Musicals, Films Based on Plays, Films Directed by Joshua Logan, Films Featuring a Best Musical or Comedy Actor Golden Globe Winning Performance, Films That Won the Best Costume Design Academy Award, Films That Won the Best Original Score Academy Award, Films Whose Art Director Won the Best Art Direction Academy Award, Warner Bros. Films
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Camelot (film)

Theatrical release poster by Bob Peak
Directed by Joshua Logan
Produced by Jack L. Warner
Screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner
Based on
Music by Frederick Loewe
Cinematography Richard H. Kline
Edited by Folmar Blangsted
Distributed by Warner Bros.-Seven Arts
Release dates
  • October 25, 1967 (1967-10-25)
Running time
179 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $13 million
Box office $31,102,578[1]
$14,000,000 (rentals)

Camelot is a 1967 film adaptation of Camelot by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe. Richard Harris stars as King Arthur, Vanessa Redgrave as Guenevere, and Franco Nero as Lancelot. The film was directed by Joshua Logan.


  • Plot 1
  • Differences between stage and screen versions 2
  • Cast 3
  • Releases 4
  • Historical Context 5
    • Vietnam 5.1
    • Kennedy 5.2
  • Reception 6
  • Awards 7
  • Soundtrack 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


In the opening scene, King Arthur (Richard Harris) is preparing for a great battle against his friend, Sir Lancelot (Franco Nero), a battle he does not wish to fight but has been forced into. Arthur reflects on the sad circumstances which have led him to this situation, and asks his childhood mentor, Merlyn, for advice. Merlyn appears to him and tells Arthur to think back.

Arthur thinks back to the night of his marriage to his now-estranged wife, Guenevere. It is an arranged marriage, and he has never met her before. He is understandably afraid of what lies ahead ("I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight"). His solitude is broken by Guenevere and her entourage. Guenevere is also worried about marrying a man she has never met, and longs for an easier life ("The Simple Joys of Maidenhood"). Like Arthur, she flees from her entourage to reflect on her future. Arthur (overhearing Guenevere and realizing who she is) accidentally falls out of the tree in which he is hiding. He and Guenevere converse, as she does not know his true identity, and realize they have things in common. Arthur tells her what a wonderful place his kingdom is ("Camelot") and they almost kiss, but are interrupted by men sent to find Arthur. The king's identity is revealed, and although Arthur gives Guenevere the chance to leave she gladly goes back with him to be married.

The plot shifts to five years later. Arthur confides to Guenevere his idea for a "Round Table" that would seat all the noble knights of the realm, reflecting not only a crude type of democratic ideal, but also the political unification of England. Knights are shown gathering from all over England. The plot shifts another five years, and word of Arthur's Round Table spreads to France. Inspired by Arthur’s ideas, the self-righteous French knight Lancelot makes his way to England with his squire Dep, boasting of his superior virtues ("C'est Moi"). Lancelot's prowess impresses Arthur and they become friends, but many of the knights despise Lancelot for his self-righteousness.

Guenevere also dislikes Lancelot at first, and, to Arthur's chagrin ("How to Handle a Woman"), incites three of the best knights –

Mordred cunningly convinces Arthur to stay out hunting all night as a test, knowing Lancelot will visit Guenevere in her bedchamber. Everything happens as Mordred expected. Guenevere admits her feelings for Lancelot but still feels guilty ("I Loved You Once In Silence"). Mordred rouses several knights and they catch the lovers together, as he planned. Lancelot escapes but Guenevere is arrested and sentenced to die at the stake. Arthur, who has promoted the rule of law throughout the story, is now bound by his own law—he can make no special exceptions for his own wife. Preparations are made for Guenevere's burning ("Guenevere"), but Lancelot rescues her at the last minute, much to Arthur's relief.

In the film’s final scene, we return to the opening. Arthur is preparing for battle against Lancelot, at the insistence of his knights who want revenge, and England appears headed into the Dark Ages. He suddenly receives a surprise visit from Lancelot and Guenevere, who has become a nun. Arthur and Guenevere share an emotional farewell. The battle must continue, however. Prior to the battle, Arthur stumbles across a young boy named Tom, who wishes to become a Knight of the Round Table. Arthur is skeptical at first, but Tom espouses his commitment to Arthur's original ideal of "Not might makes right, but might for right." Arthur realizes that, although most of his plans have fallen through, the ideals of Camelot still live on in this simple boy. Arthur knights Tom and gives him his orders—run behind the lines and survive the battle, so he can tell future generations about the legend of Camelot. Watching Tom leave, Arthur regains his hope for the future ("Camelot (reprise)").

Differences between stage and screen versions

Several songs were omitted from the film version: "The Jousts", a choral episode in which the jousts, which occur offstage in the play, are described (in the film they are shown); "Before I Gaze At You Again", sung by Guenevere to an offstage Lancelot; "The Seven Deadly Virtues", sung by Mordred; "Persuasion", sung in a scene not in the film, in which Mordred persuades

The lyrics of the song "Follow Me", which was sung in the play by the water nymph Nimue to entice Merlyn to her cave, were completely rewritten and the song was sung by an offscreen chorus in a new scene written for the film. Nimue does not appear in the film.



While the official running time was 179 minutes plus overture, entrance and exit music, only the 70mm blow up prints and 35mm magnetic stereo prints contained that running time. The general release version ran 150 minutes. Cuts were made in dialogue throughout the film and entire stanzas were removed from a number of songs including "C'est Moi" and "What Do the Simple Folk Do?". Omitted scenes include Arthur explaining what he means when he says that Merlyn lives backwards, and the entire flashback of Arthur in the forest recalling Merlyn's schoolhouse.

Television broadcasts and home video versions contain the complete, uncut copy of the movie. The shorter general release version has not been seen since the film's 1973 re-release.

The film earned North American rentals of $6.6 million in its 1968 run and $1.7 million on its 1973 re-release.[2][3]

Historical Context


William Johnson noted that “some of Arthur’s speeches could be applied directly to Vietnam,” such as Arthur’s “Might for Right” ideal and repeated musings over borderlines.[4] At the same time, Alice Grellner suggested the movie served as “an escape from the disillusionment of Vietnam, the bitterness and disenchantment of the antiwar demonstrations, and the grim reality of the war on the evening television news” and reminder of John F. Kennedy’s presidency.[5]


John F. Kennedy’s presidency became inextricably linked to Camelot after his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, revealed in a Life article following his assassination that it had been one of his favorite records, particularly the lines “Don’t let it be forgot/That once there was a spot/For one brief shining moment/that was known as Camelot.” Davidson, in “The Reel Arthur,” notes that there are no true correspondences between Kennedy and Arthurian characters, which was fortunate considering the film centered around an adulterous love triangle. In creating the association between Kennedy’s presidency and Camelot, Jackie Kennedy connected her husband to the hope, goodness, and glamour of Camelot. She wanted her husband to be remembered as “well-meaning, fallibly human but ultimately idealistic,” devoted to his country’s interests above his own. Although this association helped drive ticket sales to the musical, the movie performed poorly at the box office, with many viewing it as poorly made.[6]


As of October 2014, Camelot holds a Rotten Tomatoes ranking of 50% and an IMDb rating of 67%.[7][8] Film Quarterly’s William Johnson called Camelot “Hollywood at its best and worst,” praising the film’s ideals and Harris and Redgrave’s performances but bemoaning its lavish sets and three-hour-running time.[9] Bosley Crowther from the New York Times called Redgrave “dazzling” but criticized the film’s conflicting moods and uncomfortable close-ups. Crowther felt the main characters were not sufficiently fleshed out to evoke any sympathy from the audience, concluding that the filmed lacked “magic.”[10]


The film, nominated for five Academy Awards, won three [11] for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration (John Truscott, Edward Carrere, John W. Brown), Best Costume Design (John Truscott), and Best Music-Scoring of Music (Adaptation or Treatment) (Alfred Newman, Ken Darby). It was also nominated for Best Cinematography (Richard Kline) and Best Sound.[12] It also won three Golden Globe Awards and was nominated for an additional three.[13]

Richard Harris won the 1968 Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy.[14]


  1. Prelude and Overture - Orchestra
  2. I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight - Arthur
  3. The Simple Joys of Maidenhood - Guenevere
  4. Camelot and the Wedding Ceremony - Arthur, Guenevere, and Chorus
  5. C'est Moi - Lancelot
  6. The Lusty Month of May - Guenevere and Women
  7. Follow Me and Children's Chorus - Chorus
  8. How to Handle a Woman - Arthur
  9. Take Me to the Fair - Guenevere, Lionel, Dinadan, Sagramore
  10. If Ever I Would Leave You - Lancelot
  11. What Do the Simple Folk Do? - Guenevere and Arthur
  12. I Loved You Once In Silence - Guenevere
  13. Guenevere - Chorus
  14. Finale Ultimo - Arthur and Tom

See also


  1. ^ "Camelot, Box Office Information". The Numbers. Retrieved March 8, 2012. 
  2. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
  3. ^ "Big Rental Films of 1973", Variety, 9 January 1974 p 19
  4. ^ Johnson, William. “Camelot.” Film Quarterly Spring 1968: 56. JSTOR. Web. 29 Sep. 2014.
  5. ^ Davidson, Roberta. “The ‘Reel’ Arthur: Politics and Truth Claims in ‘Camelot, Excalibur, and King Arthur.’” Arthuriana Summer 2007: 62-84. JSTOR. Web. 18 Apr. 2014.
  6. ^ Davidson, 63-67.
  7. ^ “Camelot (1967).” Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster Inc., n. d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.
  8. ^ “Camelot (1967).” IMDb., Inc., n. d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014
  9. ^ Johnson, 56.
  10. ^ Crowther, Bosley. “Camelot (1967) Screen: ‘Camelot’ Arrives at Warner: Film Hasn’t Overcome Stage Play’s Defects.” New York Times. 26 Oct. 1967: Web.
  11. ^ "NY Times: Camelot Awards".  
  12. ^ "The 40th Academy Awards (1968) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-25. 
  13. ^ "'Camelot' Awards" IMDb, accessed August 23, 2011
  14. ^ "Richard Harris awards" IMDb, accessed August 23, 2011

External links

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