Adventures of Sir Galahad (1949) (NTSC)
|Year Of Production||1949|
|Running Time||248:47 (Case: 252)|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||1,2,3,4,5,6||Directed By||Spencer Gordon Bennet|
Don C. Harvey
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Frame||English Linear PCM 48/16 2.0 mono (1536Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||480i (NTSC)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.37:1||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The Adventures of Sir Galahad is a 15 part Columbia Pictures serial from 1949. The long first episode of the serial, Stolen Sword, runs for approximately 25 minutes, the other episodes are each approximately 16 minutes in length, except Episode 11, which is under 12 minutes because it ends abruptly and misses out on, I guess, about 5 minutes. Each episode, in true serial fashion, ends with the hero in grave danger, while the next episode commences with a recap of the previous cliff hanging ending, before resolving it and getting on with the story.
Galahad (George Reeves, TVs Superman for over 100 episodes) travels to the court of King Arthur (Nelson Leigh) at Camelot seeking to become a Knight of the Round Table. As part of his initiation he is required to guard Excalibur, the sword given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake (Lois Hall) that makes the bearer invincible. However, there is a traitor in Camelot: Galahad is drugged and Excalibur stolen. Even worse, the Saxons of King Ulric (John Merton) and his aide Sir Bartog (Don C. Harvey) invade the kingdom and threaten the existence of Camelot itself. To redeem his honour and become a Knight of the Round Table, Galahad sets out on a quest to find Excalibur, return the sword to Arthur, and prove his innocence.
The Adventures of Sir Galahad is good clean fun. Director Spencer Gordon Bennet, in a career spanning over 4 decades in Hollywood, is a deft hand with popular serials, not to mention comic book heroes as his 1949 Batman and Robin or 1948’s Superman (not staring George Reeves) serials testify. He really gets the most out of this serial despite a limited budget. The sets and costumes are not too bad, although the set and extras at the start of Episode 1 are certainly taken from another, bigger budget film as the scale is never repeated. The size of the budget is obvious; sets are small and flimsy looking, armies amount to about 10 men maximum, while the attack on “Camelot” in Episode 4, for example, occurs amid trees and boulders, not on the walls of the city (which only ever appears as a matt painting). In fact the landscape of rocks and trees looks very un-England like, and much more like southern California! The special effects, such as the flame and living tree at the end of Episode 1 (around 24:20) look decidedly quaint, although they were probably state of the art in 1949! The sword fights, on horseback or on foot, are robust and energetic enough although, as noted, the numbers of men in action is always limited.
As is usual in a serial running over 4 hours, the plot is certainly convoluted, and seems to change tack half way through with the introduction of a totally new set of adversaries – the outlaws. In Episode 12, Galahad observes “that puts us right back where we started”; truer words have never been spoken! Yet, the serial for most part remains fast paced and fun while the motivations of many of the characters are in doubt for most of the serial. Galahad is befriended very early by the portly Sir Bors (Charles King), but where does Arthur’s sister Morgan le Fay (Pat Barton) stand and what is Merlin’s (William Fawcett) hidden agenda, obstructing Galahad at every turn? Is the dour Sir Kay (Jim Diehl) a traitor? And who is the traitorous Black Knight (Leonard Penn) - although this is not really in much doubt! Some of the famous knights of legend, such as Sir Lancelot (Hugh Prosser), are seldom seen, while Queen Guinevere (Marjorie Stapp) is pretty much non-existent, even when she gets kidnapped, thus extending the serial by a few episodes. It is also interesting that in such a long, drawn out search for Excalibur, the last Episode of the serial seems in a great rush to get everything concluded.
As Galahad, George Reeves is handsome and athletic with a cheeky grin, while Charles King as the comic sidekick Sir Bors is not overdone. Women get short shift and there is really no love interest; of the two main women, Pat Barton as Morgan le Fay looks beautiful (and is underused) while Lois Hall as the Lady of the Lake looks quite spectral. Some of the dialogue is also quite dry and funny such as when Merlin is welcomed by Ulric and replies “since I am already here, you cannot do otherwise” and there is a wry humour than runs through a lot of the serial that is quite refreshing.
The Adventures of Sir Galahad is a fine example of an entertaining 15 part Columbia Pictures serial. With Camelot in peril, knights in armour, swordfights, traitors, beautiful women, dastardly deeds, magic and George Reeves in fine fettle, what’s not to like in this fast paced and interesting serial.
The Adventures of Sir Galahad is an unrestored NTSC black and white print from 1949 presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, not16x9 enhanced. The original ratio was 1.37:1 and certainly at times the cropping is apparent.
The print shows evidence of damage but is in far better shape than I had expected. Over the 15 episodes, and 4 hours of running time, there are certainly variations. The print is generally soft, with variable brightness and contrast. Detail is poor but gets by. Scratches, hairs and dirt marks are frequent, but most were small and not distracting and I have seen worse in films considerably younger than 60 years old. There are occasional interlacing errors and some ghosting and motion blur, but perhaps a more distracting issue is the blacks, which show as blotches that waver across the frame and shadow detail is indistinct to occasionally impossibly blurry. There are lots of examples; freeze the picture at 6:11 in Episode 2 for instance; in contrast, the blacks and shadow detail in Episode 7 around 7:07 is quite good by comparison. There are some frame jumps, the worst example being Episode 10 at 4:02. And of course there is about 5 minutes missing from Episode 11. However, I think these issues in the main add, not detract, from the experience of viewing this old serial. Pristine, it just would not be the same!
There are no subtitles.
Audio is an English Linear PCM track at 1536 Kbps. The dialogue is occasionally difficult to hear and sometimes crackly, the effects flat but acceptable in something of this vintage. There is a slight recurrent hiss, crackles and a few drop outs but overall the audio is not too bad. There is obviously no surround or sub woofer use.
The musical director was Mischa Bakaleinikoff who uses stock music elements that are stirring in the action scenes and added some effective tension to the escapes.
Lip synchronization varies but I don’t think the problem is the recorded dialogue; rather that the audio and video tracks sometimes get slightly out of sync. In some episodes there are no problems. In others, such as Episode 4, the difference is quite noticeable.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
This Australian version of the Adventures of Galahad is a Region 0 NTSC release. However, I cannot find the serial listed on US or UK sales sites. Our release is great value for money so why bother looking elsewhere.
The Adventures of Sir Galahad is a fine example of an entertaining 15 part Columbia Pictures serial. With Camelot in peril, knights in armour, swordfights, traitors, beautiful women, magic, dastardly deeds and George Reeves in fine fettle, what’s not to like in this fast paced, fun serial.
The video is better than I expected from an unrestored NTSC print from 1949, the audio is adequate. There are no extras, but for a RPI of $19.95, this is good value for fans of 1940s serials or anyone looking for bit of good old fashioned fun and derring-do.
|DVD||Sony BDP-S350, using HDMI output|
|Display||LG 42inch Hi-Def LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.|
|Audio Decoder||NAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.|
|Speakers||Studio Acoustics 5.1|