Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Prince Valiant

US movie (1954). 20th Century-Fox. Pr Robert L Jacks. Dir Henry Hathaway. Spfx Ray Kellogg. Mufx Ben Nye. Screenplay Dudley Nichols. Based on the King Features comic strips by Harold R Foster. Starring Brian Aherne (Arthur), Primo Carnera (Sligon), Sterling Hayden (Gawain), Janet Leigh (Aleta), Victor McLaglen (Boltar), James Mason (Sir Brack), Debra Paget (Ilene), Robert Wagner (Valiant). 100 mins. Colour.

The exiled Christian king of Scandia sends his son, Valiant, to become a Knight of the Round Table, but Arthur explains knighthood is a higher honour than princehood, and must be earned. Apprenticed as squire to Gawain, Valiant soon suspects suave Sir Brack, bastard alternative claimant to the British throne – of being in fact the Black Knight, the traitor treating with the Scandian usurper Sligon – but can prove nothing. A tedious love-knot develops between Gawain, Brack and Valiant and the princesses Aleta and Ilene. Betrayed by Brack to the Vikings, Valiant – with Aleta – is transported to Sligon's castle in Scandia, where his parents are now also captive. Escaping, Valiant amid much swashbuckling aids the rebel Christian Vikings depose Sligon, whom Valiant kills with his father's sword. Back at Camelot, Valiant denounces Brack to Arthur and then kills the traitor in single combat, winning Aleta's hand and his own knighthood.

The plotting of this cod-Arthurian romance betrays its Comic-strip origins, yet the tale is given the full Hollywood "epic" treatment. [JG]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.