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Cecil B. De Mille's latest brian child, "The Crusades," has just moved into the Majestic for an indefinite run with all seats reserved. It covers the first crusade from the time Richard of England agrees to fight for the Holy Land up through the fall of Acre and the peace with Saladin. Although Mr. DeMille's fame can hardly be said to rest on his lightness of touch, his brilliant handling of great masses of people and an obvious striving for authenticity more than make up for it.
Henry Wilcoxon plays Richard the Lion Hearted with a sort of mediaeval gusto that seems to get across pretty well. Riding his horse through countless mob scenes bellowing orders and slugging the incompetent, he achieves a good portrait of lusty leadership.
Loretta Young lends her well known charms to the character of Berengaria of Navarre, whom Richard consents to marry, sight unseen, for some boat loads of grain. Taking advantage of his kingly prerogative, Richard sulks in his tent and merely sends his sword to the wedding, but after their first meeting in the flesh things warm up a little. We were sitting on the edge of our seat waiting for that famous mouthful, "Berengaria, I love you!"--but it never came and we were much disappointed.
The Crusades is interesting, but never very moving. Perhaps that is asking too much.
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