The story is set in Merrie Old England, right after the Third Crusade. It's in Technicolor which means the color is bright and solid, none of this modern arty "fade-the-color-out-to-black&white" stuff. I first saw this flick at age nine in the old Cinema at Shoppers World out on Rt 9 in Framingham Mass. Loved it back then. I'm much older now. I popped a DVD of Ivanhoe into the DVD player last night. It's still a fine movie. It has a very young Elizabeth Taylor as Rebecca of York, ultra cute, forceful, with a serious crush on the leading man. That's Ivanhoe, played by Robert Taylor (no relation) who was a solid, competent, decent looking leading man in a bunch of movies back then. Ivanhoe is one of the best roles Robert Taylor ever had. And we have Rowena of Rotherwood, blonde, beautiful, played by Joan Fontaine, an old childhood sweetheart of Ivanhoe's and bound and determined to wed him, and not let that ultra cute Rebecca make off with him.
Costumes are great, they look extremely medieval. Workers and peasants are dressed in drab browns and grays. Nobility dresses in brighter colors, each actor wears a distinctive costume that makes it easy to tell who is who. Rowena and Rebecca have very nicely tailored medieval gowns which show off their figures to great advantage. The cast all speak clearly and distinctly, every line of dialogue is sharp and understandable. Dialogue has a proper medieval sound to it, a bit of Shakespearean flavor, no jarring twentieth century turns of phrase. For instance Locksley (Robin Hood) cries out to his merry men "Away Arrows", no anachronistic cries of "Fire". You never "fire" arrows, that only works on firearms. You shoot or loose arrows.
The camera man does it right, every scene is properly lit, none of this modern turn off the lights and let the audience struggle to figure out what is happening stuff. And no annoying "shake-the-camera" shots. The sound man places the mikes properly so we can hear everything, and avoids mixing the score or the sound effects over the dialogue.
The movie has a great love interest, lots of medieval politicking, and lots of action. Great scenes of jousting on horseback, with lists, and spectators, lances and shields, solid lance hits hurling the bad guys off their horses and into the dirt. We see Locksley and his archers take Front-de-Beouf's castle by escalade and flights of arrows. Single combat on horseback between Ivanhoe and Brian Bois Gilbert.
All in all, a great flick. You can get it from Netflix.