The Vikings (1958) ***

Sumptuous, glorious tosh, with plenty of blood and thunder and superb location photography. In fact, it is often surprisingly vivid and compelling, at least for as long as its pick and mix assortment cast are not struggling with the dialogue. Then it becomes the Hollywood hokum you expect, but the two halves never drift too far apart, and the whole remains irresistible entertainment - one of the last examples, in fact, of the traditional Hollywood epic working at full blast with neither cynicism nor the itch for reinvention. Kirk Douglas plays a Viking who doesn't want to grow a beard because he didn't want to grow a beard to play a Viking; in perhaps the most famous scene his eye is torn out by a falcon. The climactic funeral is rightly iconic, as is Mario Nascimbene's superb score. Orson Welles narrates.