Hank Martin (Bing Crosby) is in Britain taking a tour of a castle. Upon meeting the current Lord of the manor, Lord Pendragon (Sir Cedric Hardwicke), he relates to him an unusual tale that happened to him years ago in America.
In the early 1900's Hank was a blacksmith and automobile repairman in Hartford Connecticut. While delivering a horse to a customer a storm comes up. Lightning causes the horse to bolt. Hank hits his head on a tree branch and falls unconscious. When he awakens he is in the presence of a knight on a horse. The knight, named Sir Sagramore (William Bendix) calls him a monster and a dragon. At the point of a lance Sagramore takes Hank to Pendragon Castle. Hank finds out that he is now in the year 528 and is in the kingdom of Camelot in Britain.
At the castle he is taken before Lord Pendragon (Sir Cedric Hardwicke). In the great hall is the Lord’s niece Alisande La Carteloise (Rhonda Fleming). Hank and Alisande are both smitten with each other at first sight. The evil sorcerer Merlin (Murvyn Vye) convinces Pendragon that Hank is an evil demon from the depths of the ocean and should be destroyed. Pendragon orders that, in the morning, Hank be burned at the stake.
Sir Sagramore is feeling bad that he got Hank sentenced to death by exaggerating his tale. Hank’s not too happy about it either. Sagramore says that it was Merlin’s idea to put him to death and that if he could do something to prove he was a better sorcerer than Merlin he might be able to impress Lord Pendragon. Being a regular guy Hank is all out of miracles.
Hank gets a brain storm. If he can use 20th century knowledge in 6th century Britain he may be able to save his own life. Using the crystal from his pocket watch as a magnifying glass he creates fire. Everyone believes he is a great wizard. He is freed and given a blacksmith shop. He is knighted as Sir Boss and is given Sagramore to be his squire.
Given the free reign of the castle, his first order of business is to woo the beautiful Alisande even though she is betrothed to Sir Lancelot (Henry Wilcoxon). Lancelot is currently away on a quest, but not for long. Unfortunately Hank has made an enemy of Merlin who devises a devious plan to deal with Hank and in the process take the throne from Lord Pendragon.
“A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court” was released in 1948 and was directed by Tay Garnett. It is an American fantasy comedy and, of course, with Bing Crosby in it, a musical. It is loosely based on the 1889 novel by Mark Twain.
Reportedly Twain got his idea for Hank to use the eclipse for his benefit from Christopher Columbus. When Columbus was stranded in Jamaica in 1503 he and his crew were becoming annoying to the natives. Columbus used an upcoming eclipse as a ploy to keep the natives in line. Columbus "predicted" the Moon's disappearance which scared the natives who begged him to bring it back.
Twain uses Camelot’s feudalism and monarchy as a metaphor for capitalism and the industrial revolution. Although Twain’s story is actually a satire Paramount makes no apologies for turning it into a light hearted musical extravaganza. It’s silly and slightly campy family fun.
The film is your basic Paramount Pictures musical of the forties. A basically fluffy story interspersed with some music and song. Crosby makes a rather laid back Yankee with a small smile and an amusing attitude as he saunters his way through the 6th century. Fleming is stunning as the demure Alisande.
The movie is taken from the stage play; however, the filmmakers were unable to use the original Rogers and Hart songs due to copyright issues so new music was written for the movie.