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Sword of the Valiant: The Legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1984)

The Green Knights challenges King Arthur's knights. But only young Gawain takes it and decapitates him. The knight takes his head and now gives Gawain one year to learn about virtues, knighthood and then face the challenge himself.


Stephen Weeks


Stephen Weeks (screenplay), Howard C. Pen (screenplay) | 3 more credits »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Miles O'Keeffe ... Sir Gawain
Cyrielle Clair ... Linet (as Cyrielle Claire)
Leigh Lawson ... Humphrey
Sean Connery ... The Green Knight
Trevor Howard ... The King
Peter Cushing ... Seneschal - Gaspar
Ronald Lacey ... Oswald
Lila Kedrova ... Lady of Lyonesse
John Rhys-Davies ... Baron Fortinbras
Wilfrid Brambell ... Porter
Bruce Lidington Bruce Lidington ... Sir Bertilak
Douglas Wilmer ... The Black Knight
Brian Coburn Brian Coburn ... Friar Vosper
David Rappaport ... Sage
Emma Burdon-Sutton ... Morgan La Fay (as Emma Sutton)


Gawain was a squire in King Arthur's court when the Green Knight burst in and offered to play a game with a brave knight. No knights stand to defend their king's honor. Except for the valiant Gawain. After being quickly knighted Gawain plays the game, but learns that it's all a trick, and he has lost. But the Green Knight shows mercy, letting Gawain grow a year older before having to face the consequences. Gawain journeys across the land, learning about life, saving damsels, and solving the Green Knight's riddle. Written by Sean Kilby and Jason Parker <gestalt@ix.netcom.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Men of Iron... Blades of Steel.


PG | See all certifications »


Official Sites:






Release Date:

17 August 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Sword of the Valiant See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:



Color (Fujicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Emma Burdon-Sutton, who played Morgan La Fay, appeared as Queen Rowena in another Arthurian movie, Merlin of the Crystal Cave (1991), while this movie's Green Knight, Sir Sean Connery, played King Arthur in First Knight (1995). See more »


When Sir Gawain aims his bow at a unicorn to hunt it, the horn which is strapped to the horse wobbles up and down as the horse moves its head. See more »


Sir Gawain: I forgot to ask one question during my quick initiation into knighthood.
Humphrey: Oh? What's that?
Sir Gawain: How to relieve myself in this tin suit.
See more »

Alternate Versions

There is a much longer version of the film, shot in its original widescreen format. Not seen since its first screening, this was to be released on DVD. This did not materialize and this version will probably not be seen again. See more »


References Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back (1980) See more »

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User Reviews

Cheap market competitor to Excalibur
7 April 2004 | by BlueghostSee all my reviews

What can you say about a film that tries to emulate another film for the sole purpose of capitalizing on its runoff?

Not a whole lot.

"Sword of the Valiant" feels like "Excalibur's" evil twin brother. Boorman used green gels on his lights in his Arthurian film to accentuate the green in the wilderness of the dark ages, and to underscore another theme. "Sword of the Valiant" also lights its characters with green gels clipped over the lights, but probably only because Boorman did it in his film, because there's no real purpose for it here. Boorman's "Excalibur" had fog effects, Maximillian like armor for the knights, pitched fights on a variety of terrains, and bases its tale on the King Arthur legends. "Sword of the Valiant" does this, but with a cheap-budgeted feel.

The acting, for what it is, is hit or miss depending on the actor and/or scene. There's little in the way of high drama here, but the performances are certainly above B-movie quality. Yet even here it depends on the character. A couple of the female supporting cast, notably the antagonists, are horribly directed, as is the case with much of the film's performances. Miles O'Keffe does a pretty good job of portraying a young knight in search of adventure, but his character never really does anything beyond going through the motions of the plot. Sean Connery does a good job, as usual, though the glitter and mini antlers on his head were just too much. I don't know who decided to go with that scheme, but it's pretty silly. Fortunately we know it's Connery underneath all that, and his performance helps to take away the two rediculous facets of his costume. The stunning Cyrielle Claire gives a performance that is much like that of everyone else in this film; good, but somewhat flat due to lack of direction. Everyone gets the job done in the end, but no Oscars will be found here.

And, as has been mentioned, the musical score is one of the worst ever married to a film. It almost sounds like some public domain music I've heard pasted onto cheap 16mm documentaries. It's that bad.

But the worst thing about this movie is the cinematography. It's cheap, bland, uninspired, and just plain worthless. A lot of zooms are used, as are a lot of cheap edits from equally cheap angles. I might blame the cinematographer, but somehow I get the feel he was just doing this gig to get a paycheque. There's no real heart to the look of the film, and that's the real killer for this movie. For if it had been better shot, then some of the other negative qualities might've been mitigated.

The art direction is probably the one real plus for this film. Connery's antlers and glitter aside, the costuming is fairly good, and the locations, though not very well shot, are likeable, and also fit the overall feel of the film.

And for those of you laughing at Mile's O'Keefe's "page boy" haircut you should know that a page-boy was squire in training in a medieval court. Pages were young boys who ran errands and served both lords and ladies of a castle, learning manners and other skills that would serve them should they ever reach knighthood. Their hair was usually cut short with bangs all around. This is where the term "page boy haircut" comes from. The worst that can be said is that poor Miles was given a pretty bad wig. That and the hair was probably too long for the period. Otherwise it's fairly accurate.

For a knock off of a high budgeted production "Sword of the Valiant" does OK. In fact given what's presented the film could've been a lot worse, but a talented cast and good art direction can only take a B-movie so far, particularly one that's poorly shot. I first saw this film back in the 80's on HBO, and picked up a cheap copy of the DVD yesterday. The transfer, as can be expected, isn't all that good, even though it's MGM publishing the title. In fact the only real clean (non-grainy) image is on the trailer that comes as a bonus feature. Go figure.

It's worth a look if you have nothing else better to do, but don't expect too much from it. If you're a die hard fantasy or medieval film fan, then it should entertain. That and the Linet character is fairly easy on the eyes :-)

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