The Magic Sword (1962) was directed by Burt I. Gordan. This movie tells the tale of a battle between two sorcerers and a knight and a princess trying to find true love. This movie features magical knights, dragons, and other assorted creepy thing. It is a tale that should not be missed.
Rough Script The Magic Sword (1962)
Today is episode 24 The Magic Sword (1962). To get here we had to jump on the Basil Rathbone line from the Revenge of Frankenstein (1958). The Magic Sword has been one of my favorites since I was a Yout. Fortunately, I haven’t seen it since I say it in the theater and my memories constructed a better movie. Hey but don’t get me wrong it was fun to watch and you should definitely see it if you haven’t. It is campy and quirky enough that you won’t feel too bad wasting a lazy Sunday afternoon with this film – that is as long as it doesn’t cost you anything.
Burt I. Gordon BIG directed this movie. He was known for making cheesy science fiction movie with unconvincing special effects. He was riding the wave of the big monster movies until American taste changed. The Magic Sword was one of his better-received movies and some of the effects aren’t too bad all things considered.
He liked to use stars on their way out that want to make a quick payday and young talent that would read the lines and not ask for too much else. He followed this model to a T. First we have Basil Rathbone playing the evil wizard Lodac. Rathbone was a great actor and I covered him episode 21 The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) so I won’t go into much detail her. All I will say is he only did a handful of films after this and there was nothing special in the bunch.
Estelle Winwood played the sorceress Sybil. Winwood was an amazing actress. She began her stage work in 1916 but didn’t have a real screen debut until Quality Street (1937). Then she went back to the stage for almost 20 more years. She reappeared The Glass Slipper (1955) as the fairy godmother. For the next 10 years or so she played the same character. To quote IMDB she was cast as an “eccentric, frail old ladies, some of whom could be deadly.” During this time she began to appear on television shows as well. At 84 she played a women in love with Zero Mostel in The Producers (1967). Her last film was Murder by Death (1976).
Gary Lockwood was cast in the role of the young hero Sir George. He was raised by Sybil but they made it clear that he was of royal birth. I always knew Lockwood as the guy in the second Star Trek pilot, Where No Man Has Gone Before (1966) that got glowing blue eyes and god-like powers along with Sally Kellerman. But alas he did a lot more.
Lockwood attended the University of California on a football scholarship. He began his career as a stuntman and stand-in for Anthony Perkins. Around 1959 he started picking up small bits in movies and television shows. For the next decade, his TV roles increased and for a time he was married to Stefanie Powers.
But this next bit threw me for a loop. I had forgotten that he was in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The role was that of Dr. Frank Poole. So he is the guy that HAL killed. How cool is that?
Anne Helm was Princess Helene, the love interest of two. Helm was primarily a TV actress but she did have a string of movies. For a time she dated Elvis Presley.
Liam Sullivan was the treacherous knight Sir Branton. He was a stage and TV actor and may be best known for a role he played in one episode of Star Trek as King Parmen.
Danielle De Metz played the role of Mignonette. She was only on the screen for a minute. Maybe that cast her because she was French and they wouldn’t have to pay a screenwriter to write in French.
Merritt Stone played the King and father of Princess Helene. He was only in 8 movies with this being his last. In The Rebel Set MST 3000, they started chanting Merritt Stone. Later they were looking for the great Merritt Stone. Very confusing but this is not much information on this guy.
I never did find out who the dapper chimp was by the Siamese Twins were played by twin brothers Nick and Paul Bon Tempi.
Jack Kosslyn played The Ogre and had his face masked for the entire scene. He did a lot of bit work in 1950s sci-fi in movies such as Earth vs The Spider (1958). He did a few stints on Rawhide and is best known for working with Clint Eastwood on Play Misty for Me (1971), Magnum Force (1973), High-Plains Drifter (1973), and The Eiger Sanction (1975).
Maila Nurmi aka Vampira the role of The Hag / Sorceress. Maila was born in Petsamo, Finland but grew up in the U.S. The original glamor ghoul herself, “Vampira”, of late night 1950s television, was actually born Maila Syrjäniemi (later changed to the easier surname Nurmi) on December 11, 1922 in Petsamo, Finland. Maila arrived in the United States with her family as a baby and lived a rather nomadic existence at first as her father was a writer who lectured on temperance.
Director Howard Hawks noticed Maila when she was in a midnight show titled “Spook Scandals”. Hawks took the beautiful blonde to Hollywood in hopes of turning her into the next Lauren Bacall. Maila was cast in the film version of the novel “Dreadful Hollow.” The project got put on hold so many times she walked away from her contract. For a time she worked as a pin-up girl and in chorus lines.
For a masquerade contest, she invented the character Vampira. The look was long dark hair, long nails, heavy base makeup, a tiny waist, plunging neckline, and a tight black dress. Of course, she won the contest but also got a gig on the late-night TV horror show for the 1954/55 season. This resulted in an Emmy nomination, being on the cover of everything, and being seen everywhere.
Unfortunately, she is most often associated with the Ed Wood Plan 9 from Outer Space (1959). Bela Lugosi was a big fan of Vampira and wanted to work with her. However, he died in 1956 during filming. Wood shots some scenes with Vampira and added them as a tribute to Lugosi before the film was released.
By the end of the 50s, Maila career was ending. She took roles in movies like The Beat Generation (1959), Sex Kittens Go to College (1960). Her last role was a cameo in I Woke Up Early the Day I Died (1998). She died in 2008 at the age of 85.
One of the problems I have with this film is that the knights were killed off so fast there was no time to form an attachment or even care. That is except for Sir Patrick of Ireland played by John Mauldin. The actor was very slight and had an Irish brogue. I swear they were panning to the young girls with a Beatles type but they were two years out at the time this movie was made.
The other Knights are:
Jacques Gallo – Sir Dennis of France
David Cross – Sir Pedro of Spain
Taldo Kenyon – Sir Anthony of Italy
Angus Duncan – Sir James of Scotland
Leroy Johnson – Sir Ulrich of Germany
George (Gary Lockwood), is the adopted son of the sorceress Sybil (Estelle Winwood). It seems they live in a cave with a smirking chimp, and stereophonic Siamese Twins played by Nick and Paul Bon Tempi. Sybil is a bumbling scatterbrained nitwit that can’t get her spells right. But George has a bigger problem. He spends all his time down by the magic lake watching visions of the lovely Princess Helene (Anne Helm). For example, he watches the princess swimming nude in her lake. Yeah, it’s true love.
So George is watching the princess towel dry when a sorceress (Maila Nurmi AKA Vampira materializes, the gets green glowing eyes and kidnaps princess. Seeing this George runs back to the cave and tells Sybil. She uses her magic mirror to check the problem. Sybil sees Sir Branton (Liam Sullivan) telling the king (Merritt Stone) that the girl is missing. The somewhat simple kings says lock down the castle. About that time the Wizard Lodac (Basil Rathbone) busts into the room. He was picked up for skulking a word clearly not used enough in day to day conversation. He gives them a little thunder display and informs the king the Kings father had Lodac’s sister executed for witchcraft. Lodac says he will feed the princess to his dragon in 7 days. He says there are 7 curse on the road to his castle.
Sir Branton is acting all cocky and the king offers the princess in marriage and half his kingdom to the man that saves her. Back where Sybil and George are watching Sybil tells George that 300 years ago her father and brother who were great sorcerers were eaten by Lodac’s dragon and George can’t go play. She does drop the bit that he is roof royal birth so he can marry a princess.
To cheer him up Sybil turns into a black panther which seems to be the only trick she can do correctly. Later she takes him to a lower level of the cave and shows him the things she plans to give him on his 21 birthday. First is a magic horse that is the fastest in the world, armor that can’t be breached, an unbeatable sword, and a magic shield. She also shows him six knights in stone that are the greatest Knights in the world. George touches his sword to the floor and a crack opens. He traps Sybil and revives the six knights with the sword.
The group of seven head to the castle where Sir Branton is still bragging and preparing to take the quest for the princess alone. The king notices a dragon ring on Sir Branton. Branton tries to discourage them but the king decides they should go along.
Princess Helene is thrown into a dungeon where two other princess are about to be fed to Lodac’s dragon. Lodac shows Helene the rescue party in a magic wall view just as they arrive at the first curse. The first curse is a giant ogre with the hair of Michael Landon in I was a Teenage Werewolf and what might be an ape mask. George uses the speed of his magic horse to ride in circles until the ogre gets dizzy and falls and is then killed by George. After Lodac leaves two little people enter Helene’s cell and laugh as they down sprit hands at her. She escapes the cell and makes it to the main hall. She sees a cage with tiny people and then a table of zippy the pin heads appear then Lodac returns and sends her to her back to her cell.
The ogre managed to kill two of the knights and they all comment that Branton did not help in the fight or the burial. Branton returns saying he has reconnoitered ahead. When the Knights ask what is ahead he says wait and see.
They ride towards the next curse which is a swamp but no r.o.u.s. It has boiling water that dissolves flesh. One of the Knights falls in the water and George goes to help. As George is pulling the knight out Branton kicks him the back sending both into the boiling water. The Knights flesh is boiled away but George uses the magic sword to get out.
Branton tells the other Knights that both are dead but looks sick when George returns. I guess George didn’t feel the foot on his back. They all ride on.
Back at the cave the chimp and the twins are playing chess. Sybil breaks out of the crack and has a well-deserved drink. Sybil finds out George is on a quest against Lodac. She uses the magic mirror to check in on George. The Knights are openly calling Branton a traitor.
Branton sneaks away in the night but the French knight wakes and follows him. At a cottage, a short distance away Branton meets Lodac and this is the first time you realize the two are in cahoots. Branton has somehow taken the ring of Lodac and is forcing him to let Branton save the princess.
As the French knight arrives Lodac sends a maid (Danielle De Metz) out sing a song in French. Well, Frenchmen like Vikings can’t control their selves and they start slopping it up. The maid turns into a green eyed hag (Vampira) and is about to kill the knight when George arrives and drives her away with the cross on his shield. They confront Branton and he tells them he came to the cottage to reconnoiter. Lodac turns to hag into a spider for failing to kill the knight. Lodac realizes that George has magical powers from Sybil. He also reveals that he intends to kill Branton and feed the princess to the dragon. Lodac confronts Sybil over the mirror cam and short circuits her view.
Sybil tries to brew up a potion to help George. He failed magic leaves George without protection when he needs it most. Two knights are sent ahead by Branton and the land becomes hot. The two Knights are dying but they warn George and the Irish knight back. Branton is not sweating. He rides away to a cave and traps George and the Irish knight inside. Branton reveals he is working with Lodac. George’s sword would no longer work to make an opening. Evil spirits attack the pair. They look like tiki gods or maybe shrunken heads. One of the spirits takes over the Irish knight but he manages to open the wall for George.
Branton and Lodac use the fire cam to spy on George. Lodac reveals it was the power of Patrick’s faith that opened the wall and it was stronger than magic. George rides up to the castle and walks right to Helene’s cell. Lodac and Branton watch using invisibility. They get all kissy-faced and the head back towards the gate. Lodac’s and his gang of pinheads materialize around George and Helene. Branton and Helene begin to leave and Lodac reminds Branton to give back the ring. He foolishly does. Helene turns into the hag. Lodac finds out that you can’t make a deal with an evil wizard as Lodac mounts his head on the wall.
They take George to the dungeon and get Helene ready for the dragon. Sybil is still working on the spell but heads to Lodac’s castle to help George. Lodac brings Helene to the dungeon for their last goodbye, one of the pinheads lets the little-caged people escape. They go immediately to free George. Helene is tied up in King Kong fashion for the dragon.
Once free George gets his horse and spear and fights the two headed fire breathing Chinese style dragon. Very reminiscent of St. George slaying the dragon. Sybil land on the castle wall and approaches Lodac who while polite is distracted by the fight. The dragon de horses George. Sybil remembers the spell and magical George is back. He kills the dragon and frees Helene. Sybil steals the ring from Lodac as he watches his beloved dragon die.
Lodac begins cursing the couple but Sybil turns into a panther and kills Lodac. Rathbone could really act.
The scene changes to the royal wedding and the six knights return from the dead and are as good as new.
World-famous Short Summary – Two young voyeurs find true love.