Two Yankees From Connecticut Walk Into an Arthurian Bar … (#SFWApro)

This post was originally going to include the Will Rogers version, but the VHS tape broke, so … (in case you’re wondering, I focused on TV time travel this week, so not as much as usual to review).
A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT (1949) opens with Bing Crosby’s Hank visiting Pendragon Castle and confounding a tour guide with his knowledge of Arthur’s court. This brings him to the castle’s crotchety owner (Cedric Hardwicke) who listens as Hank tells this amazing tale … Unlike previous adaptations, this unambiguously presents the Yankee’s trip as real, and unlike them, keeps the technological change minor—Crosby’s big accomplishments are building a gun and teaching swing to court musicians (surprising since they emphasize he’s an auto mechanic in the present). The film skips the eclipse twist at the start (it comes into play later) and resolves Crosby’s romance with Alisande (Rhonda Fleming) by having him meet her reincarnation/lookalike in the present day. William Bendix plays a buffoonish Sagramore, who was actually a big name in pre-Malory Arthurian legend but plays the fool in most Twain adaptations (one of my books blames this on Malory having the A-listers such as Lancelot prove their worth by clobbering Sagramore). Blandly amiable but the Technicolor visuals are way prettier than most of the later versions. “Don’t give up too soon/if you stub your toe on the moon.”
Keshia Knight Pulliam becomes A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT (1989) when she falls off a horse and wakes up in the past, where she helps Arthur and Guinevere (Michael Gross and Emma Samms) thwart the schemes of Morgan and Merlin (Jean Marsh [who also plays LeFay in Doctor Who: Battlefield] and Rene Auberjonois). As with Crosby, the tech changes are minimal (mostly cultural stuff, such as teaching martial arts and feminism) and the eclipse is held off for the climax. On the other hand, Paul Zindel’s script throws in details from Twain most adaptations skip, such as Sir Boss getting 1 percent of Camelot’s revenue and returning to the present by Merlin casting her into suspended animation (but the ending shows conclusively that Camelot wasn’t just a dream). Not particularly good, overall. “Flee, flee—she’s a voice witch!”

3 Comments

Filed under Movies, Now and Then We Time Travel

3 responses to “Two Yankees From Connecticut Walk Into an Arthurian Bar … (#SFWApro)

  1. Pingback: Thoughts on Twain’s Yankee (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  2. Pingback: Time-travel reviews: Tomorrow Men and Arthurian Teens (#SFWApro) | Fraser Sherman's Blog

  3. Pingback: You’re a wonder, Lynda Carter: Wonder Woman ’77 in Comics | Fraser Sherman's Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.