Movie Review: Ivanhoe (1952)

by StevenHelmer

A review of the 1952 movie starring Robert Taylor and Joan Fontaine.

Synopsis: When Richard the Lionheart is taken hostage and his brother, Prince John, tries to claim his throne in his absence, a Saxon knight, Ivanhoe, takes matters into his own hands and challenges Prince John and his knights while trying to raise the ransom money with the help of Isaac of York and his daughter.


I recorded this film off of one of our movie channels a few months ago with the intention of watching it with my oldest daughter. She, however, has never shown any real interest in watching it with me (despite reading the book) so I ended up watching it this morning by myself. I had not seen this film since I was in high school and didn't remember much about it. But, for the most part, it is a pretty decent movie.

The film does take a little while to get started and, if you haven't read the book, there are some parts of the movie that might not make a whole lot of sense early on. But, once the movie gets started, it is an entertaining action film.

One thing, in particular, I like about this movie is all the medieval battle scenes, ranging from a joust to the final battle. There's a good mix of both action and color, giving the movie a vibrant feel to it.

Ivanhoe himself (Taylor) is an intriguing character, both because of his loyalty to King Richard and the way he manages to be a ladies' man with the two main female leads falling for him despite no pretense about him having interest in anyone but his beloved Rowena (Fontaine). This makes him very entertaining to watch.

The twist at the end, involving the knight De Bois-Guilbert (Sanders) falling for Rebecca (Taylor) and being willing to give up everything to be with her despite the fact she is Jewish and it is forbidden, was also something that made this movie worth watching because it created a bizarre mess. He loved her but she loved Ivanhoe and Ivanhoe was in love with Rowena. It was one of those things that kept the ending a little less predictable because, by the end, I did find myself wondering if maybe De Bois-Guilbert should be spared.

Final Opinion

I'm not sure if this film is as good as "The Adventures of Robin Hood," but it is still a pretty good classic movie that is worth taking the time to watch at least once. I know I didn't regret my decision to watch it this morning.

My Grade: B

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Updated: 04/10/2016, StevenHelmer
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DerdriuMarriner on 03/08/2022

StevenHelmer, Thank you for practical information, pretty pictures and product lines.
The library system has the original Ivanhoe movie, which you review above. It also lists a BBC production called Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe from 1997, a remake from 2009 and a prequel titled Young Ivanhoe from 2005.

Would you all happen to have seen the other three films?

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