The Viking

In the transition from silent pictures to sound, Hollywood studios released mostly silent pictures with synchronized soundtracks and various sound effects.  I recently saw an MGM film from 1929 that employed this hybrid approach, and it also added the glory of “two-strip” Technicolor.  “The Viking,” directed by Roy William Neil, stars Donald Crisp as Leif Ericsson, who provisions his ship to sail to the new world of North America.  It is the first feature-length Technicolor film with sound.

Pauline Starke, right, falls for slave LeRoy Mason in “The Viking.” (Photo courtesy of George Eastman House, Rochester)

The Viking features the lovely Pauline Starke as a princess named Helga who buys a British slave named Alwin.  The slave, played by LeRoy Mason, turns rebellious but gains the respect of the Viking crew.  Soon, the freed slave romances Helga and sets off with the Vikings to conquer anew.

Leif first goes to Greenland, where he runs into the forces of Eric the Red, who tries to prevent him from exploring the regions at the end of the world.  Lief, having converted to Christianity, further enrages Eric the Red, who swears to kill all Christians.  Leif thwarts his father, leaves Greenland and makes it the new world.  According to the movie, he eventually lands in what is now Rhode Island.  The Viking is a fun, rousing, successful picture with good performances and plenty of action.


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