Archive for January 20, 2023

The Death of the Arthur: Sleepy Time Galahad

Posted in FILM, Mythology with tags , , on January 20, 2023 by dcairns

Well, Galahad’s ring of invisibility proves to be a bust. When he tries to use it, he’s under attack from this Black Knight character (who has all his limbs, unlike the helmeted torso of the same name in MONTY PYTHON), who is wielding the stolen sword Excalibur. We get a noise as of radio interference and the sword glows with an animated halo effect, like Lon Chaney Jr. in MAN-MADE MONSTER, and then Galahad quite simply falls over.

Elsewhere in this episode, Merlin paves the way for another Cleese character, Tim the Enchanter, by appearing and disappearing with the aid of explosions. It’s standard panto trickery, but the PYTHON scene retroactively makes it comical. The Pythons rendered quite a few things hard to take seriously, from Arthuriana to the Spanish Inquisition.

Galahad and Bors continue to get capture, escape, and get captured again. Bors is untiringly supportive of Galahad, and Galahad never misses a chance to fat-shame his chunky sidekick. It’s a vivid reminder of how obnoxiousness was the norm in the middle ages nineteen-forties.

The rewriting of Merlin as a baddie is an atrocity of course. It may be a result of postwar conservatism in the US, resulting in a suspicion of intellectuals and other wizards, bearded men generally. Or, it may be that this is all a trick, Merlin testing the young Galahad with a series of Herculean feats the young would-be knight and future Superman must perform.

Check out the stellar sound work in this exciting battle. They’ve got, I think, some genuine clashing swords FX produced on the day of filming by the stunties whacking at each other, and they’ve enhanced it I think with a library record of general purpose aggressive ironmongery. But at a certain point someone’s discovered they need more than just blade striking blade — these are knights in armour, after all (though it’s mostly chainmail). So they’ve got a bunch of pots and pans and are sort of randomly clattering them about, perhaps on a blanket they make a kind of hand-held trampoline out of. Once you notice it, you can’t unnotice it.

Here’s a GREAT bit of slapstick magic from later in the same Donnybrook:

If only the serial had more of this fine stuff.

As a cliffhanger goes, you can’t beat quicksand (well, you can’t beat hanging off an actual cliff, but if the scenery falls short of mountainous, quicksand is a decent fallback option). This might be oatmeal or something rather than quicksand proper, but is that really any more desirable if you’re wearing full armour?

One hour of this muck to go. I WILL finish it soon!