The Crusades

“Two hours of tempestuous extravaganza.” New York Times, 1935

Following the great success of Cleopatra (1934), Cecil B. DeMille lost no time arranging another thundering epic to confirm his supremacy at Paramount Pictures. On its face, The Crusades, a story of religious factions clashing for control of Jerusalem, might not have seemed salutary to DeMille, who had sustained harsh protests over King Of Kings (1927), but his faith in the story, depicting the victory of England's King Richard “the Lionheart” (portrayed by Henry Wilcoxon), quelled any doubts. The scenario posits a takeover of Jerusalem by Islamic warrior Saladin, and the pan-European response to this supposed offense against Christianity's holiest site. Urged to war by his fellow kings, Richard sees an opportunity to escape an expedient marriage to dour Alice, princess of France (DeMille's daughter, Katherine), but finds it necessary to grudgingly take a bride (Loretta Young as Berengaria). The romance that follows becomes the film's tender heart as Richard storms the cities of Acre and Jerusalem in quest of holy victory. With amazing set pieces and memorable flourishes, this epic is crafted with brio by a master at the height of his powers.

Preserved by UCLA Film and Television Archive and Universal Pictures from 35mm nitrate and acetate materials.

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