411. The Magic Sword (1962)

At a Star Trek convention in El Paso I got to meet Gary Lockwood. We were able to talk for about 15 minutes. He had some fascinating stories! (Being strapped upside down in that huge ferris wheel set from 2001 was something else!) But when I brought up The Magic Sword and it being on MST3K, he got kind of annoyed (“We worked awful hard on that.”). I quickly changed the subject and asked another question about working with Stanley Kubrick. Everything was cool again.

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The Magic Sword (1962). Full Movie.

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Well, George is kind of creeping on his future bride when we meet him. But that’s standard behavior for fairy tale heroes, so… :person_shrugging:

This is my second-favorite Joel episode: parked just a step or two from Secret Agent Super-Dragon.

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I hadn’t thought of it that way. The movie was actually intended to be a version of St. George and the Dragon, but it does have a very Disney feel to it.

It’s a fun movie, and well made (especially for the notorious B.I.G.). Basil and Estelle are clearly having a ball hamming it up, and it’s great. Effects are petty good for the era, too. I think this episode is a great example of how Joel describes riffing as working with the movie and building out from it rather than tearing it apart. My favorite episodes are usually the ones like this, where I could almost enjoy the movie unriffed and yet the SOL crew is clearly having fun with it.

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“MUSIC MADE UNDER STRICT RABBINICAL SUPERVISION.”

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"DRAGON TRAINER? THEY’RE KIDDING US, RIGHT?

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“THIS ISN’T A MOVIE. IT’S AN EMPLOYMENT PROGRAM!”

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“NICK, PAUL, AND JON BON TEMPI.”

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Like others have said, this is probably B.I.G.'s best movie, and it’s a great episode on top of that. I’m not a big fan of knightly fantasy, so it’s never been a huge favorite of mine, but I enjoy it more every time I see it. Estelle and Basil are just too much fun to resist.

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“UH-OH, WE’RE IN BIG TROUBLE GUYS.” “HMM-HMM.” “WE ARE IN REALLY BIG TROUBLE.” “YEP, YEP.” “WE ARE IN DEEP DEEP TROUBLE GUYS.”

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Basil Rathbone goes back to being a sneering villain. Only this time, his heroic rival is portrayed not by Errol Flynn but a pre-2001 Gary Lockwood. It also features Estelle Winwood as a witch, which naturally recalls her appearance on Bewitched as Aunt Enchantra.

The story is a very loose interpretation of the St. George and the Dragon legend as done by our old pal Bert I. Gordon. Despite that, it’s actually watchable. Even the special effects are a cut above his usual efforts. Normally when a good-ish movie is screened, the riffing winds up being tepid as they end up not having much to latch onto. But thanks to plenty of goofy moments, Joel and the Bots are in top form.

One troubling aspect of the film is how our hero George’s infatuation with the princess is such that he uses a scrying pool to watch her go skinny-dipping. Not exactly the basis for a healthy relationship. Though to his credit, George is suspicious upon first encountering the fake princess when she refers to him by his name, even though the two had never met. This is not the sort of detail your typical deluded stalker would pick up on.

Fun Fact: One of the princess prisoners is Playboy Playmate (November 57) Marlene Callahan.

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I was big into Danny Kaye as a teen and The Court Jester was one of my favorite movies. It’s no surprise that a showing of The Magic Sword on the Mystery Science Theater Hour was what it would take for the show to sink its claws deep into my psyche. This was one of my first episodes and I have a very nostalgic feeling about it. It’s a stop-drop-and-watch episode for me.

For the longest time, I only had the first half of the movie, so I can quote the heck out of that but I still catch things I’ve missed in the second half. I love that about a good episode - it makes it more rewatchable.

And like @TheLurker I also own this one unriffed - as a bonus feature with a Danny Kaye movie.

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I could definitely see doing this as a marathon with those flicks! This is one I hadn’t seen until it was a Vault Pick (S4 was before MST3K aired where I lived), and I absolutely loved it! I already tend to have a soft spot for the cheesy sword-and-sorcery movies (Delta Knights, Wizards, etc.), so this was right up my alley.

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The Magic Sword was Merritt Stone’s last film credit, per IMDb.

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“ANSWER UNCLEAR. ASK AGAIN LATER.”

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:notes:IT’S THE UNDERSEA KINGDOM!!! FOR YOU AND FOR ME!!!:notes:

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“CALGON. TAKE ME AWAY!!!”

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I absolutely love The Court Jester! One of my favorite classic movies!

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Definitely a contender! Even in the theater segments do you get a sense of that, with the gang conceding that it’s “pretty good for a Bert I. Gordon film.”

It’s certainly a higher quality movie than we’re used to for this show, and especially for the same season that would later give us Fire Maidens from Outer Space, Monster a-Go-Go, Bride of the Monster, and Manos: The Hands of Fate.

The Russo-Finnish movies (with one of them, The Day the Earth Froze, also appearing in this season) take a fast track towards respectability by wrapping gorgeous cinematography around entertaining stories. It feels like THIS movie’s fantasy setting helps it to sit alongside those movies, and the craftsmanship is undeniably front and center with how great this all looks, if not to the sheer beauty of the Russo-Finnish movies. But there’s even more going on with a gang of fun characters, ESPECIALLY Basil Rathbone as the villain and Estelle Winwood as the hero’s mother. They both took this assignment seriously, with Rathbone in particular having a scenery-chewing ball as the Big Bad. He carves out a position as one of MST3K’s most charismatic baddies, and that helps to give this movie additional credibility.

Yes, Bert I. Gordon hasn’t fully gotten away from his usual tricks, whether the knights are squaring off with a giant monster or our hero is being rescued by some Rice Krispies-esque elves. Even with Mister B.I.G. deploying his amazing colossal gimmickry, it all still feels like the spectacle factor is very much in service of the story rather than merely serving as a “HEY, LOOK HOW COOL THIS ALL IS” special effects showcase. I respect that.

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Years down the road, the RiffTrax gang would take on solid and respectable movies to great effect, and it feels like this episode here kinda sorta somewhat lays down the foundation for that.

But what’s important to keep in mind here is that even though the movie is of a better quality than we’re used to with this show, the gang doesn’t ride the pine or take it easy on the onscreen action. Not at all.

I love all the great riff opportunities that the movie serves up to the voracious riffers, whether it’s the band of all-over-the-place magic knights that are called to help the hero (Joel: “Terry, the sensitive knight”), the threats and monsters facing our intrepid adventurers (Servo on the giant fuzzy monster: “He’s kinda got Conway Twitty hair…”, Joel on the same monster: “Teddy Ruxpin, NO!”), and permutations of past MST3K gems (Crow: “By that time, my lungs were burnt to a crisp!”).

A personal favorite scene? The part where all the tiny folks free our hero George from captivity. Lots of great stuff happens there, like Crow saying that he loves “those little guys” in the same scene where he chides the ridiculousness of these pint-sized characters looking around the room for George: “Like they CAN’T find him…” Joel has a real winner here in: “Hi, George, we’re a part of this complete breakfast!”

MST3K is at its best when the movies throw a wealth of material at the SOL crew, and there’s always something here to keep the party moving as our hero and company move against the Seven Curses of Lodac.

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