Ten Best Viking Movie Characters
The Vikings – those lusty, hellraising marauders from the north – have left their indelible mark in a number of Hollywood movies. The Norsemen have even invaded television commercials, appearing in a series of entertaining spots for Capital One.
Here are ten memorable Viking move characters from Hollywood's past. Vikings, ho!
Kirk Douglas as Einar, The Vikings (United Artists, 1958)
Kirk Douglas, whose own Bryna Productions produced The Vikings for $5 million, stars as Einar, the robust son of Ragnar (Ernest Borgnine). Einar has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, having lost an eye to ex-slave/half-brother Eric (Tony Curtis), who had sicked his falcon on him in a pique of anger. That small handicap hasn't slowed Einar down much, though, as he revels in drunken keggers, dances on the oars of a Viking longboat, clips the pigtails of a blonde girl with several well-executed throws of an ax, pursues the fair English maiden Princess Morgana (Janet Leigh) and storms an English castle with his Viking buds in tow.
Kirk Douglas as Einar - United Artists
Richard Widmark as Rolfe, The Long Ships (Columbia, 1964)
Blonde-haired, blue-eyed Richard Widmark appears as Rolfe, a Viking dreamer and adventurer who finds himself shipwrecked in Moorish North Africa. Rolfe's talk of a giant golden bell in the marketplace grabs the attention of Moorish ruler Aly Mansuh (Sidney Poitier), who has the Viking brought to his castle. Rolfe escapes in a spectacular dive from an unbarred window into the ocean below, later returning to the Moorish coast when his ship is once again hit by a violent storm. Rolfe and his crew are enslaved by the evil Aly Mansuh, who forces them to find and retrieve the golden bell and deliver it to the Moorish capital.
Richard Widmark as Rolfe - Columbia Pictures
Ernest Borgnine as Ragnar, The Vikings (United Artists, 1958)
Ernest Borgnine plays Ragnar, the bearded, grungy patriarch of a Viking clan whose pride and joy is his fearsome son Einar (Kirk Douglas). Ragnar is 100% Norseman and something of a braggart, doting on his only son – in wedlock, that is – while telling people, "Look how he glares at me...If he wasn't fathered by the black ram in the full of the moon my name is not Ragnar." When the English king Egbert (James Donald) condemns the captured Ragnar to death, the old Viking embarks gleefully once his request is granted to go down fighting like a good Norseman with sword in hand, jumping into a pit of ravenous wolves who in quick order send him packing to Valhalla.
Ernest Borgnine as Ragnar - United Artists
Russ Tamblyn as Orm, The Long Ships (Columbia, 1964)
Russ Tamblyn appears as Orm, younger brother of Viking adventurer Rolfe (Richard Widmark). With Rolfe as the leader, Orm and other Viking rebels swipe King Harald's (Clifford Evans) funeral ship, setting sail in their quest to find the great golden bell a.k.a. "The Mother of Voices." Orm does have a conscience, confronting his brother after the latter sacrificed a maiden in order to lift the curse on King Harald's death ship. But, alas, Rolfe had only pretended to kill the girl, who is now stowed away below.
Lee Majors as Thorvald, The Norseman (American International, 1978)
Lee Majors of TV's The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-78) fame stars as Thorvald, a Viking explorer who traverses the Atlantic in search of his missing father King Eurich (Mel Ferrer). Thorvald and his boys land in Vineland, where they battle the native Indians. In a shipboard scene, one of Thorvald's fellow Norsemen can be glimpsed sporting a wristwatch! What an ad for Timex, whose slogan was, "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking."
Lee Majors as Thorvald - American International Pictures
Cameron Mitchell as Eron, Erik the Conqueror (American International, 1961)
Cameron Mitchell plays Eron, an ambitious Viking who leads his hordes against England in the ninth century. George Ardisson plays Eron's brother Erik, who was separated at birth and raised by the English. Fans of Viking pillaging, spectacular castle sieges and the joys of Odin and other Norse deity will enjoy this low-budget saga which first hit movie theaters in Italy on December 7, 1961. "In death, I have but one companion: my sword," Eron proclaims, citing the old adage that a good Viking always goes down swinging.
Carita as Queen Salina, The Viking Queen (Twentieth Century-Fox, 1967)
Finnish-born Carita Jarvinen – simply billed as Carita – has the title role of Queen Salina in this movie jointly produced by Hammer Film and Seven Arts. Salina's pop was a Briton and her mother a Viking (maybe), with Salina ascending the throne in Roman-occupied Britain upon her father's death. There are plenty of scantily-clad females prancing around, a few human sacrifices and one scene in which Queen Salina leads her mighty chick warriors into battle on chariots against the despised Romans. Never mind that her resident boy toy Justinian (Don Murray) happens to be a Roman general. Isn't love grand?
One sheet movie poster: Carita as Queen Salina in The Viking Queen (1967) - Heritage Auction Galleries
Sidney Poitier as Aly Mansuh, The Long Ships (Columbia, 1964)
Sidney Poitier – hardly Viking material, given his Bahamian heritage – plays the Moorish ruler Aly Mansuh in this stirring saga pitting Vikings vs. Moors on the latter's home field in North Africa. Poitier forces Viking adventurer Rolfe (Richard Widmark) to retrieve a giant golden bell, threatening him and his fellow Norsemen with a free ride down a death contraption known as the Mare of Steel if he doesn't comply. Vikings romp through a Moorish harem like drunken frat boys in this film, with Aly Mansuh none too happy about the wild Norsemen messing with his women.
Sidney Poitier as Aly Mansuh - Columbia Pictures
Ralf Moeller as Kjartan, The Viking Sagas (Direct to Video, 1995)
German-born Ralf Moeller stars as Kjartan, a mythical Viking who tromps around Iceland after learning the ways of the Norse warrior from teacher Gunnar (Sven-Ole Thorsen). Moeller certainly has the looks and build of a rugged Viking stud, with plenty of blood and gore and beautiful Icelandic scenery filling the screen.
Tony Curtis as Eric, The Vikings (United Artists, 1958)
Bronx-born Tony Curtis plays Eric, the secret half-brother of Einar (Kirk Douglas). Eric has somewhat of a mean streak him in, directing his killer falcon to attack and maul the rude Einar, which it does with great gusto, taking Einar's left eye out. Eric is later lashed to a pole and slated for drowning by the ocean tide, but is saved by an old woman who prays to Odin for divine intervention. Eric and Einar later clash in a fight to the death on the steps of an English castle. Interesting, who will win, Bernard Herschel Schwartz or Issur Danielovitch Demsky – better known as Tony Curtis and Kirk Douglas, respectively?
Tony Curtis as Eric - United Artists
Top Image & Further Reading
- Kirk Douglas as Einar in The Vikings (1958) - United Artists
- Hollywood's Best Viking Movies