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      The Crusades

      1935 2h 3m History Drama List
      100% Tomatometer 6 Reviews 44% Audience Score 100+ Ratings King Richard of England (Henry Wilcoxon) has no desire to marry the awful Princess Alice of France (Katherine DeMille). The Third Crusade offers him a good excuse to flee, so he sets off with his knights on a long journey to the Holy Land. When supplies diminish, Richard marries Princess Berengaria of Navarre (Loretta Young) in exchange for food from her father. Nearing their destination, Berengaria is captured by Saladin, Sultan of Islam (Ian Keith), whom Richard is determined to destroy. Read More Read Less

      Critics Reviews

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      Meyer Levin (Patterson Murphy) Esquire Magazine One of DeMille's most effective spectacles, done much in the manner of a pageant. Apr 21, 2020 Full Review John Kinloch California Eagle The frequent battles and the surge of great armies give this picture an irresistible appeal. Oct 22, 2019 Full Review Ann Ross Maclean's Magazine It is everything you could look for; history handsomely simonized by Cecil de Mille and moving with action, pace and glitter. Oct 8, 2019 Full Review Dennis Schwartz Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews Blowzy inaccurate medieval era epic on the Holy Crusades is pure Hollywood balderdash, nevertheless it's an immensely fun spectacle. Rated: B- Jun 17, 2010 Full Review Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com Rated: 3/5 Jul 27, 2005 Full Review Carol Cling Las Vegas Review-Journal Rated: 3/5 Mar 19, 2004 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

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      Audience Member After the release of Ridley Scott's KINGDOM OF HEAVEN and 70 years after the premiere of DeMille's CRUSADES, I found it interesting to see the film. Cecil B DeMille is usually associated with ancient or biblical epics like TEN COMMANDMENTS, CLEOPATRA, KING OF KINGS or THE SIGN OF THE CROSS. However, after the two great epics of the early 1930s, he made a movie about a different historical period, the infamous crusades that aimed at protecting the Holy Land from the Muslim "infidels". The problem with this film, however, is that it looks historical but contains serious historical inaccuracies. Therefore, it cannot be treated as a serious historical epic and it is not a history lesson whatsoever. Nevertheless, it is a very interesting movie being an authentic look at DeMille's talents and a real 1930s movie. Consequently, it can still touch some of the 21 century viewers, particularly classic movie fans. CHARACTERS: Most of the names that we hear in THE CRUSADES are historical. They are, however, showed in a different perspective and addressed to the audiences of that time. DeMille calls our attention foremost to Richard the Lionheart (Henry Wilcoxon) and his lovely wife princess Berengaria (Loretta Young). Richard is a man of courage, a king who, unlike other kings, is close to his people. But, he joins the crusade due to entirely different reasons than other kings. He does not have any faith in the cross he is to wear but wants to escape marriage with Alice (Katherine DeMille), the sister of Philip, king of France. On the way to the Holy Land, he meets the love of his life, Berengaria, a very noble and pure lady who, in the long run, changes Richard into a peacemaker and believer. These two characters are very well developed and their plot has much to say to today's viewer: the love between a man and a woman does not have to be based on sex only. Their love is mostly a spiritual love rather than sexual one (so appreciated by Medieval people). It is showed a bit humorously in the moment when Richard dares jump into his wife's bed, dedicated to John, Matthew, Luke and Mark... Another character that needs mentioning is the Hermit (C.Aubrey Smith). This is a man of great courage and faith whose sole aim in life is the cross. "Take the Cross to your hearts," as he says to the people in England gathered to join the crusade is a particularly powerful moment. CAST: Even though Henry Wilcoxon plays the main role, he is not that good in this movie. As a matter of fact, I far more liked his performance in CLEOPATRA (1934). His acting, behavior of a proud man suits Antony very well but does not suit Richard that well. Stars who deserve highest attention in this movie are C.Aubrey Smith as the Hermit, Ian Keith as Saladin, and Joseph Schildkraut as Conrad, Marquis of Montferrat. Smith memorably presents a stereotypical hermit (this face and this voice!), Keith stresses Saladin's wisdom and an indefatigable desire to defend his religion. He shines in the scene when visiting the royal assembly. Finally Schildkraut undeniably deserves careful attention in his magnificent portrayal of conspiring Conrad. It is true that his role is distorted historically, but he does, in this performance alone, a terrific job. Loretta Young's performance, however, is far from masterpiece. Sometimes, she is sweeter than chocolate with sugar. DIFFERENT DeMILLE: It is noticeable that THE CRUSADES, though an epic, concentrates more on message rather than lavish sets and costumes. As a result, DeMille is less noticeable than in lavish CLEOPATRA or THE SIGN OF THE CROSS. What we get here is the story, vivid characters, message of peace. That is very important to state since a lot of people associate DeMille ONLY with sets, visual effects, costumes and bathes. Here, he gives something more. It is true that there are monumental moments, like the siege of Acre or a touching scene of crusaders leaving their families for the Holy Land, but they are not in the main focus. This film is filled with one more thing that I consider significant to mention, SYMBOLISM. It is in other DeMille's movies too, but never that much as in THE CRUSADES. The most memorable moment is a scene of salvation. Simple crusaders die and just before their last breath, they desire to touch the Cross. They climb high steps enlightened by the light coming from above. It is similar to Christians going to arena in THE SIGH OF THE CROSS, but here, it really seems that DeMille wanted to show a vision of heaven. In the end, the film shows the victory of peace. It is a historical fairy tale but partly refers to the period of peace between Christians and Muslims termed by Saladin. This led another director to make a movie, 70 years later... THE CRUSADES, however, is still entertaining in some way. It is not for historians, but a must see for all DeMille's fans and all people interested in early talkies. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review kevin w One of the interesting phenomena surrounding DeMille is how he gets damnation for essentially being himself --- and his productions too. Over-the-top? Bombastic? Melodramatic? And yet these very traits also "sold" his work. You can't please all the people all the time. Fast and loose with the minutia of truth? Okay. But epic entertainment? OKAY. Loretta Young is saintly and alluring. Henry Wilcoxin is dynamic (why he wasn't a bigger star I don't know). And the battle scenes do the trick. Alan Hale - one of the great character actors! Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member another religious epic from epic master CB DeMille & as a sidenote my mom loved his films and showed many to me when I was young. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/21/23 Full Review Audience Member As a piece of film making this is an impressive piece of work especially for its costuming, set designs, and staged battles. It is certainly well deserving of its nomination for Best Cinematography at the 1936 Academy Awards. However as a piece of anti-Moslem propaganda it's pretty outrageous. Still it's not entirely biased in one direction. Richard I is no saint here (as he was not in reality) and 'Saladin' is depicted as a man of honour (as by most reliable accounts he was). Though there were prominent Christian monks such as Bernard of Clairveaux who preached up the crusades, this film would have us believe that one John the Baptist-like hermit led all Christendom to retake Jerusalem, while borrowing a line from the story of Constantine's conversion (probably equally fictional) - 'by this sign ye shall conquer!' The story of the marriage of Richard I to Berengaria of Navarre in spite of being betrothed to another is loosely based on fact. In good 1930s Hollywood style the chaste queen tames the 'Lion Heart' with a little help from God. In reality Richard (who couldn't speak a word of English by the way) probably preferred young boys to virginal wives and while there is real doubt that his marriage to Berengaria was ever consummated, the reason is unlikely to have been as noble as that given here. For all of its propaganda, the film does argue for peace between Christians and Muslims and places the teachings of Christ about peacemaking in the mouth of the Moslem sultan Salahadeen. An enjoyable epic even if (like all such epics) historically flawed. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/17/23 Full Review Audience Member This is a *tough* film to rate because I generally love classic Hollywood. First: other than the very basics, the history it depicts is pretty erroneous; example: Conrad of Montferrat was not a noble/assassin-at-court in France looking to squirm his way into becoming the king of Jerusalem by making deals with King Richard's brother, John. Conrad was a respected nobleman/warrior, cousin to Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, who defended Tyre valiantly and shrewdly to the point that Saladin wanted nothing to do with him, making Tyre the last great Christian stronghold to fall...a hundred years AFTER the famous Third Crusade. Yet on the other hand, the film DOES get right the complex political marriage triangle between Richard and Berengaria of Navarre and Countess Alice (sister to Richard's rival, King Phillip II). The film also rightly demonstrates some of the toxic theology that Christian preachers connected to "taking up the cross" and killing enemies in the name of Christ. There is also the classic Hollywood depiction of Saladin as the cultured gentleman adversary, whose flowery witticisms always seems to be one step ahead of the foppish or bull-headed European kings. This provides the film a setting to give the Muslims a Pyrrhic victory, Saladin the opportunity to lecture Richard about his faithlessness, and thus the moral high ground at the end. Richard is seen as caving into the pleadings of his wife, captured (but enamored) by Saladin, to make peace for the world -- this just after she begged Richard to never end the Crusade until his sword had freed Jerusalem from the Muslims. In reality, both sides were spent: Saladin was ill and could not launch another attack with his forces after losing horribly at Jaffa, and Richard, while able to strike the Saracens again, knew the Christian army would sustain too many casualties to be able to hold Jerusalem longer than a season. So the two came to terms to free each others captives and make Jerusalem accessible to unarmed Christian pilgrims. If one were to compare wins and losses, it was Richard and the Christian army who were actually victorious: they had retaken Acre and Jaffa, held onto Tyre, and significantly strengthened naval defenses in the East. So if this the film is useful in any kind of message it is in illustrating why one should never make vital, life-changing decisions on words of a person who is prone to such fickleness -- who also teaches false doctrine by saying that God and Allah are the same person. What I found really refreshing though is the depiction of the Christian army. Granting that killing specifically in the name of Jesus is not a true Christian act (and this is easy for us to point out from our 21st century, post-Reformation perch), the Christian soldiers are portrayed as sincere in their piety and interested in freeing the Holy City for the glory of God and not their own. Based on actual letters written by soldiers of the period this is fairly accurate, and shows that the army at large indeed was not full of mindless, bloodthirsty zealots out to rape, pillage, and plunder as is often taught in schools and mainstream books. Indeed the beginning of the film shows the Muslims desecrating crosses (gasp!), burning Christian books (GASP!), enslaving God's people (no, not the cultured Muslims!) in Jerusalem -- acts history documents as occurring, and Saladin did not intend to stop with there. Thus Christendom felt it needed to act against this foe, and for the purpose of protecting/retaking its cities and ensuring the safety of pilgrims Christendom had every right to do so. By starting off the film this way, De Mille seems to agree that Christendom had the moral high ground, at least to start. (So why De Mille seems to switch later on I have no clue.) It also needs to be noted that the action (especially for 1935), writing, and acting is top rate. So, as stated... tough to rate. But ultimately (like "Kingdom of Heaven") the production values are not enough to overlook all the other egregious failures in the depiction of the history and its personas. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/06/23 Full Review Audience Member A lot of bluster and fighting and riding horses. Not at all historically accurate, but a spectacle even so. Funny how the public ate up Cecil B. Demille hokum. Still, it honors and glorifies Christ. Rated 2.5 out of 5 stars 02/20/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis King Richard of England (Henry Wilcoxon) has no desire to marry the awful Princess Alice of France (Katherine DeMille). The Third Crusade offers him a good excuse to flee, so he sets off with his knights on a long journey to the Holy Land. When supplies diminish, Richard marries Princess Berengaria of Navarre (Loretta Young) in exchange for food from her father. Nearing their destination, Berengaria is captured by Saladin, Sultan of Islam (Ian Keith), whom Richard is determined to destroy.
      Cecil B. DeMille
      Cecil B. DeMille
      Production Co
      History, Drama
      Original Language
      2h 3m