Harold “Hal” Foster’s groundbreaking—each panel possessed a high degree of detail and a notable absence of word balloons—adventure comic strip Prince Valiant debuted 75 years ago today. The ongoing Arthurian epic follows the exploits of Valiant, a young Nordic prince who journeys to Camelot and eventually joins the ranks of the Knights of the Round Table. His adventures across Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and even North America led to encounters with treacherous kings, pirates, Huns, Vikings, and other foes. For a superb overview of the series, check out The Definitive Prince Valiant Companion by Brain M. Kane.
Despite its lenghty run, only two live-action adaptations of the comic have been produced. Twentieth Century Fox released Prince Valiant in Technicolor and Cinemascope on April 5, 1954. Directed by Henry Hathaway, the film features Roger Wagner in the title role along with Janet Leigh, James Mason, Debra Paget, and Sterling Hayden. It’s a fairly straightforward story about a plot to usurp the throne from King Arthur, but certainly worth a viewing.
In 1997, director Anthony Hickox’s Prince Valiant was released in Great Britain. The cast includes Stephen Moyer, Katherine Heigl, Edward Fox, Thomas Kreischmann, Joanna Lumley, Ron Perlman, and Warrick Davis. I’ve yet to see the film in its entirety, but it’s novelty seems to lie more in seeing Moyer and Heigl prior to their breakout television roles on True Blood and Grey’s Anatomy respectively.