England at the end of the 12th century. On his way back from the Third Crusade, Norman King Richard I is held for ransom in Austria. His brother Prince John has no interest in freeing him. Ivanhoe, knight and son of an Anglo-Saxon, is the only one who tries to find the ransom money. He asks the Jewish merchant Isaac for help, and meets the man’s daughter, Rebecca, who tends to his wounds after he is injured in a jousting tournament. Ivanhoe has vanquished the Normans in the tournament, but he has also awakened their interest in Rebecca, who is soon taken captive along with Ivanhoe’s father and his father’s ward, Rowena … The colour scheme reflects the divisions of the era in England – the plainness of the Anglo-Saxons vs. the refinement of the Normans. While Richard’s followers wear mostly monochromatic clothing, and the peasantry led by the Robin Hood figure Locksley wear, to a man, green or brown doublets, the Norman robes are colourful and sport individual adornments. That will to distinction is most prominently on display in the tournament scenes, where the shields, caparisons, and helmet feathers display colourful ornamentation – vanities that the black knight pointedly shuns.
by Richard Thorpe
with Robert Taylor, Elizabeth Taylor, Joan Fontaine