The Long Ships (1964) – Episode 23

Sidney Poitier in The Long Ships (1964)

Sidney Poitier in The Long Ships (1964) with Rosanna Schiaffino

If we ever had children, my lady, what princely liars they would be!

The Long Ships (1964)

Welcome to Episode 22 – The Long Ships (1964). We are still following the Lionel Jeffries line. This movie is about Vikings so I love it no matter what. With big stars such as Richard Widmark and

The Long Ships (1964)

The Long Ships (1964)

Sidney Poitier, it’s hard to go wrong. But they did seem to go wrong a great deal. Poitier said, “To say it was disastrous is a compliment.”

Richard Widmark played the role of Viking Rolfe, son of Krok. He was really too old for this role and turned it down a few times. He finally agreed when that cast his good friend Sidney Poitier. Widmark has always fascinated me as an actor. He burst into movies playing angry and psychotic anti-heroes. However, in all of his roles, he seemed like he was cranked off. Is this good acting or was he really a mean guy?

Widmark was born in Minnesota and always had an interest in movies. Like so many, he attended college to become a lawyer but he was derailed by the acting bug. By the late 30s, he was acting in New York. When World War II broke out he tried to enlist but was medically disqualified for an ear problem. Following the war, Widmark went under contract with 20th Century Fox. Darryl F. Zanuck saw Widmark’s screen test for “Tommy Udo” and had him cast in this role for Kiss of Death (1947). After being nominated for Best Supporting Actor in this role, Widmark’s career was a blaze.

Through the 1950s, Widmark covered the major genres: Westerns, military, and the thriller.

He appeared with Marilyn Monroe in Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) and made Pickup on South Street (1953) that same year for director Samuel Fuller. That same year Take the High Ground! (1953) came out where Widmark played the role of a tough combat veteran trying to prepare boys for warfare during 16 weeks of basic training.

A few years later he was in Time Limit (1957) a complex post-Korean Conflict drama that deals with the issue of how much a man should be required to take when in the hands of the enemy.

In 1960, Widmark’s appeared in John Wayne‘s The Alamo (1960) as Jim Bowie. Widmark was the political opposite of Wayne so it must have been fun on the set. I can’t wait to review The Alamo so I can talk about the stuff that Bowie did before he got to Texas.

In 1961, Widmark was the prosecutor in Stanley Kramer’s Judgment at Nuremberg (1961). He appeared alongside Spencer Tracy, Maximilian Schell, Burt Lancaster, Montgomery Clift, and Judy Garland.

A little later, Widmark appeared in two Westerns directed by the great John Ford, with co-star James Stewart in Two Rode Together (1961) and as the top star in Ford’s apology for Native American mistreatment, Cheyenne Autumn (1964).

1965, found Widmark teamed with Sidney Poiter in The Bedford Incident (1965). Widmark was a gung-ho naval captain that pushed his men to the limits and beyond.

In the 1970s he continued in movies but also in television. Although his star power peaked around Judgement at Nuremberg, Widmark would work for 30 more years in movies such as Against All Odds (1984).

The Long Ships (1964)

The Long Ships (1964)

Sidney Poitier played the role of Aly Mansuh the leader of the Moors. Original advertising for this film stated “Sidney Poitier in his first non-negro role.” WOW.

Poitier became a stage actor after moving from Cat Island in the Bahamas and serving time in the Army. By 1949 he was so respected that he was offered a role in No Way Out (1950) directed by Darryl F. Zanuck. In this film, Poitier is playing a black doctor that must treat two white racists, one of which is played by Richard Widmark.

This was the first of the roles he played that showed the conflict between the races. In the Blackboard Jungle (1955) he played a resentful youth that was won over by his teacher played by Glenn Ford. In The Defiant Ones (1958) he played an escaped convict shackled to a white prisoner. In Lilies of the Field (1963), he helped white nuns build a chapel and became the first African-American to win an Oscar for a lead role. In Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (1967) he is engaged to a white girl and has to deal with generational bigotry from both sides. In To Sir, with Love (1967) he played the teacher of inner-city London kids with racial and cultural differences.

Russ Tamblyn was cast as Orm the younger son of Krok and the brother of Rolfe. Tamblyn is one role above all. He played the role of Riff, the switchblade-toting, ballet dancing, ill-tempered leader of the Jets gang in West Side Story (1961). Of course, since this story was a rehash of Shakespeare’s Rome and Juliet he was a modern day Mercutio.

Tamblyn was a dancing and gymnastic talent that has been matched on the stage by few such as Burt Lancaster. Tamblyn also showed a comedic side in his roles which differentiated him from the leading man type. In the late 40s, he began showing up in the background of films and on the LA stage.

He was featured in a few family films such as Father of the Bride (1950), and the sequel Father’s Little Dividend (1951). However, his first big role came as the wisecracking Army recruit in Take the High Ground! (1953). Tamblyn showed his talent as the younger brother in one of the great musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (1954).

His talent in The Young Guns (1956), Peyton Place (1957), and his lead in Tom Thumb (1958), lead to his defining role as Riff in West Side Story (1961). After West Side Story his roles began to diminish. Titles such as The Haunting (1963), The Female Bunch (1971), Satan’s Sadists (1969), Scream Free! (1969), Dracula vs. Frankenstein (1971) and The Bloody Monks (1990) tell the story of decline.

He did a little stage work and some tv. He is the father of actress Amber Tamblyn, most recently known for “Joan of Arcadia” (2003).

Rosanna Schiaffino played Aminah who was Mansuh’s wife. Schiaffino was an Italian beauty but most of her roles were not in English.

Lionel Jeffries was cast in the role of Aziz and he may have been the harem eunuch.

Oskar Homolka played the role of Yarl Krok the father of Rolfh and Orm. Oskar had a broad face and a thick accent. I though he sounded a little like Jackie Mason. Most people thought he was eastern European he was in fact born in Vienna when it was the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was a successful stage actor who after the rise of Hitler and the Nazis moved to America. It is ironic that he had many roles as Commie spies, Soviet-bloc military officers, and scientists.

Clifford Evans played the role of King Harald. Evans was born in1912 in Wales. He was an actor/producer, known for movies that may be of interest to our crowd including The Curse of the Werewolf (1961), The Power Game (1965), and The Kiss of the Vampire (1963).


The prologue and main title were by Maurice Binder, Binder filmed a prologue before the credits that look like a tribute to the Byzantium Hagia Sophia located in what is now Istanbul, Turkey. The beautifully done mosaic tells the story of “The Mother of Voices” a huge golden bell believe to be located near the Pillars of Hercules. The term was used in antiquity to refer to the Straights of Gibraltar.

The premises of the story is riddled with holes. Where to begin. First, the Viking age is roughly the period between A.D. 793–1066. The 1066 date comes from the defeat of northern Viking army in England before Alfred traveled to Hastings to get the crap beat out of his army by William later know as William the Conqueror. William was also a Viking that came from the Normandy region of France. Normandy equals Northman’s land.

It is assumed that bell is on the north side of the straight or character Aly Mansuh would not have needed a boat. The Rock of Gibraltar is on the north side and is much higher that the African side. In reality, the Moors crossed from Africa in A.D. 711 and the final Moors were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in A.D. 1492. Why does that date seem familiar? Oh yeah with the war won Isabella could give three ships to an Italian adventurer to sail to Cafey.

Anyway, the Moors controlled both sides of straight so it wouldn’t be that hard to find the bell. Finally, the mosaic says that the gold was stolen from the Muslims during the Crusades. The first Crusade was called for by Pope Urban II in 1095 (after the Viking age) and ended in 1291 with the fall of Acre.

So other than the fact that the Vikings weren’t raiding anymore, the Crusades hadn’t happened, and the Moors controlled the territory where the bell was we are all good.

Viking, Rolfe (Richard Widmark) is repeating the story of the bell in an Arab market he says he heard the bells, was shipwrecked, cared for by monks, and is now trying to make his way home. Unbeknownst to Rolfe the local Moorish King Aly Mansuh (Sidney Poitier) is also obsessed with the bell. Some of Mansuh’s guards grab Rolfe and take him to the tower for enhanced interrogation. Rolfe insists that the bell is a myth and he is just trying to make a little money. Rolfe breaks free and jumps out the unbarred window and does a dive fit for Viking and escapes.

The scene switches back to Viking town where King Harald’s (Clifford Evans) men are testing a long boat. The boat is a custom order funeral ship for the king built by Rolfe’s father Krok ( Oskar Homolka), his brother Orm (Russ Tamblyn), and their entire village. This part of the movie shows why custom orders must be paid in advance. After the boat is proven to be of superior quality Krok takes King Harald into the great hall for a bit of feasting and negotiating. At one point during the fest, Krok runs out of mead so he has to trade his badge of rank for the booze because the deal is not done. King Harald then tells Krok that his village owes two years of back tribute and gives Krok only two gold coins as the difference the value of the ship and the money owed. Krok is ruined as is his family and village. However about this time Rolfe staggers to shore more-dead-than-alive. His brother Orm who is out winching finds him and tells him the whole sad story of the boat.

Rolfe convinces Orm and Krok to let him take the ship, that has not been properly paid for, to look for the bell. They get King Harald’s men on the ship drunk – Vikings have no willpower. To protect his father they also kidnap the king’s daughter Gerda (Beba Loncar) whom Orm just happens to love.

Harald is super pissed and orders all ships to sea in pursuit. When the hungover crew wakes they are all upset and freaked out because the ship has the black funeral sail. Rolfe pretends to sacrifice Gerda but actually kills a sheep. The crew agrees to go along but they are loyal to King Harald and they know it’s just a matter of time until the king catches Rolfe.

Rolfe and his ship make it to the pillars/straight and hear the pales of the bell but again they are shipwreck by the mixing of the Atlantic and Mediterranean currents. The crew realized that Rolfe tricked them about the girl and before they can get too upset a contingent of Aly Mansuh’s men attack. The Norsemen have no problem handling their attackers and are cheering when they see the main body of the army approaching. Rolfe orders them to surrender and ends up in the same tower he was in before but now with bars on the window. Mansuh begins interrogating the Vikings but he is a little preoccupied with Princesses Gerda and orders her prepared for a night with the king. Although Manush has a full harem his main wife Aminah (Rosanna Schiaffino) does just have a cow, she has a whole herd.

That night the main group of Vikings escape and hope to find Gerda and Rolfe. But Vikings have no self-discipline so when they find the harem they go crazy raiding it. Lionel Jeffries playing the role of Aziz is pretty funny in this scene.

Aminah has Rolfe brought to her room and they immediately see their world view is similar. They work out a plan to repair the Viking ship and help the Moors get the bell. Mansuh goes to Gerda’s room but is interrupted by Orm. The King then finds out about the harem raid and finds Rolfe in the room with his favorite wife. To say he blows a gasket would be a kind portrayal. He orders all of the Vikings executed by riding the “Mare of Steel.”

The next day everyone is outside to see the “Mare of Steel.” It is a giant curved blade that you ride down on your belly and face and the two half land on foot long spikes at the bottom. Somehow I don’t think by the time you hit the spikes it would matter. To demonstrate the loyalty of men Manush has Aminah select one of the Moors to ride the mare. Rolfe tries to talk his way out but one of the other Vikings has agreed to lead the expedition. Then Orm says they won’t travel without Rolfe and Mansuh is forced to cancel the executions.

After fixing the boat the mixed crew rows to the location of the bell. The water is perfectly calm and it is daytime. They should have tried this before. The group ascends the hill and find the building where they heard the bell. Mansuh goes in first and comes out with a shocked look. Rolfe goes in and sees only a tiny bell. In a rage, he slams the bell into the side of the building and for the first time they all hear the “Mother of Voices.” The plaster building is the bell. In reality, gold would make a terrible bell and the plaster of the building would prevent this bell from ringing. Anyway, they set up ropes and chains to lower the bell down the slope to the waiting ship. Mansuh has most of the Vikings clipped into the rope and chains and sure enough, the bell breaks free and drags most of them to their death. Now it gets weird. When the solid gold bell hits the water it floats. They build a raft and tow the bell back to Mansuh’s city. It is moved onto a cart and Mansuh rides at the head with the remaining Vikings chained in tow.

As they approach the palace Aminah yells “The long ships came in the night” and is taken down by a Viking spear. Did the Viking generally use spears? King Harald’s men jump out from behind the silent towns folks. A great battle follows with the Norsemen gaining the upper hand. In the middle of the battle, Krok pays for the badge of office and gets it returned. Finally, the bell falls over and rolls over Mansuh. Rolfe reminds the king that he has a share of the bell coming and with his daughter back all is forgiven. Even Krok is out of debt. As the ending trails away Rolfe is heard lobbying the king about an expedition to find the “three crowns of the Saxon kings.” The Saxon’s were around before the Vikings so they got that right.

World-Famous Short Summary – Two men take a sea voyage and it ends badly for one

The Vikings (1958) – Episode 18

The Vikings (1958)

The Vikings (1958)

Look how he glares at me... If he wasn't fathered by the black ram in the full of the moon my name is not Ragnar.

The Vikings (1958)

The Vikings (1958)

Welcome to Episode 18 – The Vikings (1958). We are currently working on the Janet Leigh line. Go to my website at to find all of the twitter, Facebook, and other social media links. If you like what you hear pop on over to iTunes and give me a review.

This movie is a nice little period piece but it’s a little strange in the treatment of the women characters. The story is interesting and has enough twists and turns. The on-location shooting is visibly striking and the actors are some of the top in the business.

The role of Ragnor was played by Ernest Borgnine. Borgnine was the child of Italian immigrants. After graduating from high school in Connecticut Borgnine joined the Navy. He stayed in the service for 10 years leaving at the end of WWII. His mother suggested that he try acting and well, you should always listen to mamma. His first role was as a male nurse in Harvey (1950). He moved to Hollywood and began his career in earnest, pun intended. He hit the big time when he was cast as the sadistic jailer Fatso in From Here to Eternity (1953). In 1955 he played the lead in Marty. This role garnered him the Oscar for Best actor. He took the lead on a comedy television show “McHale’s Navy” from 1962-66. He continued to churn out movies including The Dirty Dozen (1967), Ice Station Zebra (1968), The Wild Bunch (1969), Emperor of the North (1973), and Escape from New York (1981). In 1984, he took a leading role in “Airwolf” with Jan-Michael Vincent. Borgnine continued to work including voice over roles until his death in 2012. His last roles included the voice of Mermaid Man in “SpongeBob SquarePants”.

Kirk Douglas was cast in the role of Einar, warrior son of Ragnar. Douglas was a descendant of Jewish Russian parents from what is now in Belarus and was raised in a tuff area of New York. He went on to be perhaps one of the greatest actors in American history. He performed a little on Broadway until he joined the Navy in 1941. At the end of the war, he returned to acting and was cast in the lead role in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946). This was followed by a roll in I Walk Alone (1948), marking the first of seven times he would work alongside Burt Lancaster. In Champion (1949) he played an untrustworthy boxer. Douglas was cast as painter Vincent van Gogh in Lust for Life (1956). This was followed by the western Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) with Lancaster. In 1957, he played a French Colonel in Stanley Kubrick’s intense anti-war drama Paths of Glory. In 1960, Douglas played the lead in Spartacus a movie that has ties to today’s film. Douglas also insisted that blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo be given on-screen credit. This helped break the blacklisting that rose as a result of Sen. Joe McCarthy’s “Red Scare” hysteria in the early 1950s.

In Lonely are the Brave (1962) he played a rebellious cowboy that didn’t fit in the modern world. This was followed by the John Frankenheimer’s military thriller Seven Days in May (1964), again with Lancaster. He was cast with John Wayne in the WWII drama In Harm’s Way (1965). In Harm’s Way was featured in Episode 4 of this podcast. Although Wayne and Douglas differed politically the were also paired in Cast a Giant Shadow (1966) a film about Israeli’s struggle for independence and the western The War Wagon (1967). I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Final Countdown (1980) about a time traveling aircraft carrier and The Man from Snowy River (1982) where Douglas played a pair of brothers at odds in 19th century Australia.

Douglas has long been involved in humanitarian causes and in 1981 he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He suffered a stroke in the 1990s but remains active. He is the father of actor Michael Douglas and father in law of actress Catherine Zeta-Jones

Tony Curtis was cast as Eric another son of Ragnar but though circumstances wound up being a slave. Curtis was the son of Jewish Hungarian immigrants. He grew up in a rough part of New York. He was only close to his younger brother strengthen by a stint in an orphanage until his parents reclaimed them. In 1938, Curtis’ brother was killed in an accident. His parents wanted Curtis to get a formal education so he could avoid the poverty that the family had suffered. Curtis, however, wanted an education from the school of hard knocks. In 1942, he joined the Navy and remained in service until 1945.

He began his acting education on the GI Bill but was soon noticed by Joyce Selznick who pointed him out to her uncle. Shortly thereafter he was given a seven-year contract with Universal Studios.

His first role of was in Criss Cross (1949), where he made Burt Lancaster‘s character jealous by dancing with Yvonne De Carlo. Following this, he was cast as a heavy for a time.

His roles became larger over time with such vehicles as Sierra (1950) and Winchester ’73 also in (1950). He began to get leading roles, including a few that he co-starred with Janet Leigh whom he married. These include Houdini (1953) and The Black Shield of Falworth (1954).

By the late 1950s and early 1960s, Curtis’ career was on fire. His films from this period include Sweet Smell of Success (1957) where he played an evil hustler opposite Burt Lancaster, The Defiant Ones (1958) where he played an escaped prisoner chained to Sydney Poitier, Operation Petticoat (1959) about a pink submarine, Some Like It Hot (1959) where he was in drag with Marilyn Monroe, Spartacus (1960) where he was a devotee of the escaped leader, and The Great Impostor (1961).

Janet Leigh, Tony Curtis’ wife was cast as Morgana, a Welch princess. She was discussed in more detail in Episode 16 of this podcast Night of the Lepus (1972).

James Donald was cast in the role of Egbert, an Englishman that was helping the Vikings by making maps of his home. Donald was a Scottish actor that worked on stage and screen in England. He was cast in a few roles with American actors but in 1956 his role as Vincent Van Gogh’s brother in Lust for Life got him noticed. He was cast as a British soldier in The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), The Great Escape (1963), King Rat (1965), and Cast a Giant Shadow (1966), and as a doctor in the cheesy Five Million Years to Earth (1967). His last acting credit was in 1978.

Frank Thring was cast in the role of Aella. Thring was born in Australia. He was a fantastic actor and had a career in movies, stage, and television. He was cast as two biblical bad guys: Pontius Pilate in Ben-Hur (1959) and as Herod in King of Kings (1961). He was also in El Cid (1961) with Charlton Heston (1959). He played the role of the Collector in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). He had bouts of alcoholism and illness during his lifetime. In 1982, he was elected “The King of Moomba” a Melbourne festival. The name of the festival may or may not mean “Up Your Butt Hole” in many Aboriginal languages. Thring died in 1994.

Orson Welles was uncredited as the narrator. I will not attempt to summarize his career at this time because I would go very long if I did.


The movie begins with Orson Welles telling how and why the Vikings were raiding into Europe and how their greatest goal was to die in battle with a sword in their hand. This part of the movie is

The Vikings (1958)

The Vikings (1958)

illustrated in Bayeux tapestry style and is quite nice. This sequence ends with the English prayer “Protect us Oh Lord from the wrath of the Northmen.”

Like I said before, this movie had a strange treatment of women even for the time. Following the intro of Ragnar (Ernest Borgnine) who kills the Northumbrian king and then rapes the queen (Maxine Audley). In a short time, her cousin Aella (Frank Thring) takes over the throne. When the queen gives birth to a son she sends the baby away to Italy for protection. She ties the pummel stone from the royal sword into a necklace and sends it with the child.

The tale jumps 20 years into the future and Aella is still having trouble with the Vikings. The king of Wales pledges his daughter, Morgana (Vivian Leigh) to King Aella. The king accuses Lord Egbert (James Donald) of treason by being in league with the Vikings. The king wants him killed but he escapes to his friends the Vikings and goes to Norway with Ragnar.

When the group returns home they meet Ragnar’s son Einar (Kirk Douglas). Einar is a brave warrior but is a man-whore tends to take instead of ask. Einar takes an immediate dislike to Egbert but he is ordered by Ragnar to teach him the Viking ways. Einar tries to show off his hunting birds but is embarrassed by another hunter’s bird. This bird turns out to be the property of the slave named Eric (Tony Curtis), who was captured by the Vikings as an infant.

Eric uses his hawk to attack the vain Einar which results in the loss of Einar’s eye. They bring Eric to the great hall for judgment.

Look how he glares at me. “If he wasn’t fathered by the black ram in the full of the moon my name is not Ragnar.” When Ragnar asks Egbert what they would do in England and Egbert foreshadows Ragnar’s death. Egbert sees the pummel stone from the English sword and knows Eric is the prince of Northumbria.

While Ragner and Einar are deciding how to kill Eric an old witch pops up and tells them that whomever kills Eric will be cursed by Odin. So Ragner decides to have him tied in a tidal pool where the rising surf will kill him. Egbert, a black slave, and the witch watch over Eric and a favorable wind save him from the tide. Eric now belongs to Egbert because Ragner said if he lives anyone can claim him.

Egbert comes up with a plan to snatch the Welch princess Morgana. He plans on leading the expedition and taking Eric with him. Einar is still pissed and glares at Eric with his milky eye. Einar decides to lead the kidnapping expedition. Einar comments to Egbert that maps are no good in the fog. Later the old witch shows Eric a magnetized amulet that points north. This makes Eric the only one that can directly navigate the open ocean and sail through the fog.

Love and hate are horns on the same goat

Einar captures the princess and this is where it gets a little rapey. He takes her back to Norway unharmed. When they get back Einar/Douglas runs along the oars of the boat. The stuntmen had been practicing the stunt for weeks. Douglas did it with no practice. When he fell into the cold fjord water he swam to the camera boat and ask how it looked before swimming back to the Viking ship.

Back to the story. Stop shouting you sound like a moose giving birth to a hedgehog

They anchor the boat with the princess in the harbor. Kill themselves if you don’t.

They get into the whole thing about wanting women to fight and bite. Ragnar gives Morgana to Einar. He goes and tries to get her to fight back but she won’t. Eric knocks out Einar and with the witch and the black slave they head for England. Einar and Ragner pursue the escapes into the fog. Ragnar’s boat hits a rock and Eric pulls him from the water. The escapees make it to England. During their travels, Morgana and Eric fall in love. Eric gives her the sword pummel.

Eric turns Ragnar over to Aella and asks for Morgana. Aella orders Ragnar to be feed to the wolves. Ragnar asks for a sword so he can die like a Viking. Eric gives him the sword and allows Ragner to die fighting. Father Godwin finds out that Eric is the prince.

Morgana pledges to Aella in return for Eric’s life. Before he lets him go Aella chops Eric’s hand off. They cast them adrift in his boat. Before the mourning period is over Eric returns Norway and ask Einar for help. Eric tells the story of the wolf pit. The group decides to attack Aella and England.

The Vikings arrive with a giant battering ram that they roll down and crush the gate to the outer works of the castle. Aella is at a window making cowardly lion faces. When they get to the inner gates Eric provides suppressive arrow fire while Einar’s group throws axes at the gate. It is not clear what they are up to until Einar runs to the gate and climbs the axes. Once he is at the top he lowers the gate for the others. Aella is at a window still making cowardly lion faces. As the fighting continues Einar makes straight for the chapel and Morgana while Eric heads for Aella and revenge. Eric runs down Aella and during the tussle Aella falls into the wolf pit.

Einar finds Morgana with the priest in the chapel and delivers a great line when the priest crosses himself. Take your magic elsewhere holy man.

At first, it seems like Einar is intent on finishing the rape. But instead, he tells her he loves her and wants her to be his queen. She doesn’t even try to let him down easy. Morgana declares her love for Eric.

Einar sees red. He takes Morgana to the top of the tower and she tells Einar that they are brothers and that Ragnar is the father of both men. Einar reacts in a similar vein as Luke Skywalker, another cutoff hand but that is a different story.

Eric climbs the tower and he and Einar begin a sword fight. Einar breaks Eric’s sword and had the high ground. At the decisive moment, Einar pauses because he realizes Eric is the son of Ragnar as he sees Ragnar’s face in the man he is fighting. Eric stabs and kills Einar with the broken sword but wonders why Einar paused. Eric gives him a sword so he can die with it in his hand as a Viking should. Einar shouts Odin and dies.

They do a nice Viking ship burial. So Eric and Morgana live happily ever after as King and queen having united the Vikings, the Northumbrian’s, and the Welch.


Ernest Borgnine who was 45 days younger that Kirk Douglas played father to the older man. Douglas was in his 40s and was playing a man that should have been around 20. Following the attack by the hawk Douglas was required to wear an opaque contact lens. This was extremely painful and he could only wear it for a minute or two at a time.
Both Douglas and Curtis were big stars at the time. Since Curtis killed Douglas they agreed that in the next movie Spartacus (1960) Douglas would kill Curtis.

During the Viking funeral one flaming arrow was fired early by a stunt man. The director liked the single arrow shot and kept it in the movie.

This movie had firm norse ground. It was filmed on location in Norway and many of the people in the movie were locals. The scenes of the Viking boats moving through the fjord was breathtaking. The houses in the village were correctly styled as well.

The story is roughly based in history where two Viking brothers fought with King Aella of Northumbria. In real life Aella had a snake pit.

The semi-historic Ragnar Lodbrok, who this movie appears to be based on had several famous sons and spent his time raiding England and France. It is believed that he was captured by the historical King Aella and thrown into the snake pit. You can currently see a fictionalized version of Ragnar on the History Channel.

This movie also touched on Norse mythology. Odin and Týr are the gods of war. Odin is said to have one eye and Týr had one hand. The final fight sequence in this movie appears to be a tribute to these two.

World-Famous Short Summary – Family travels to England. Things turn out bad.

I hope you enjoyed today’s podcast. Remember you can find all of the links at and I appreciate those reviews at iTunes.

NMM 3 – The Vikings

Viking Fest Helmet logo

Viking Fest Helmet logo

NMM 3 - The Vikings

Nantan Movie Minute 3 – The Vikings. A couple of classic Viking movies – The Long Ships (1964) and The Vikings (1959).

Vikings – A word that sets off a sense of wonderment in the imagination of any true American. They were possibly the first Europeans to visit North America. Vikings are resurging in popular culture with the success of the History Channel’s Vikings. This TV shows follows Ragner Lothbrook on his adventures.

However, there are a couple of classic movies that cover the same subject with interesting twists. The first of these is The Long Ships (1964). The Long Ships cast Richard Widmark as hard charging Viking Rolfe in an epic struggle with Sidney Poitier as a Moor. Both men want to obtain the Mother of All Voices, a solid golden bell that is located in the Pillars of Hercules, today known as the Straits of Gibraltar. They go on their quest with Russ Tamblyn along as Orm. Russ adds excitement with his acrobatic moves. You may remember Russ from Westside Story and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I won’t spoil the ending but the scene with the bell is not to be missed.

The other film is The Vikings (1959) which cast Ernest Borgnine as Ragnor. His sons who are half-brothers were played by Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis. The two sons, one a warrior and the other a slave, are vying for the affection of an English princess played by Janet Leigh of Psycho fame and of course Night of the Lepus. James Donald does a credible job as a disloyal duke that lives with the Vikings. Frank Thring who you may know as Pontius Pilate or King Herrod did a fine job as the sleazy usurper of the English throne.

So you don’t need to go to the History Channel for your Viking lore. It’s out there waiting for you in classic movies.