Sep 3, 2012

The Magic Sword

On Saturday afternoons in the 1960s, if there was no sports match on, WQAD tv played science fiction movies.  Usually the same movie.  I saw snippets of it many times -- ten or fifteen minutes in between homework and going out to play -- but not enough to figure out the zany plot.

It was something about a young knight in a Prince Valiant haircut, who sneaks out on his witch-mother, goes on a quest to rescue a princess, gains companions who die in various gruesome ways, and then is captured by a wizard in an genie outfit.  Everyone looks frightfully embarrassed.

The witch had a rather cute servant, whose two heads spoke in unison.

The wizard was accompanied by a woman with an ugly face, who collected "little people for the stew."

There was also an egg-headed servant with a doleful expression.

It was dreamlike and surreal, like watching a story that everyone in the world knows intimately, but you've never heard of.

But I endured the craziness for a scene near the end, when the boy is strung up in the dungeon, his shirt torn off.  A stunning smooth glowing chest, tightly muscled arms and shoulders.



Twenty years later, when Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffed it,  I finally discovered that the movie was The Magic Sword (1962), a loose adaptation of the legend of Sir George and the Dragon.  The witch was played by famous British actress Estelle Winwood, and the wizard by Basil Rathbone, who was well known for starring in a series of Sherlock Holmes movies in the 1930s and 1940s.

The boy strung up in the dungeon was 25-year old Gary Lockwood, who would enjoy a long acting career.  He is probably most famous for developing psychic powers on a 1965 episode of Star Trek and getting chucked out of the spaceship in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968).  And, of course, for providing a glimpse of beauty on dull Saturday afternoons when there was no sports match on.