(Review originally written at 3 September 2007)

Of course Fritz Lang was one of the greatest directors in the '20's and '30's, with movie classics such as "Metropolis", "M" and "Dr. Mabuse, der Spieler - Ein Bild der Zeit" but the movies he made later in his career, from let's say the '40's on are hardly on par with his work from his glory days. You see a lot of directors that were great and brilliant in the earliest days of cinema ('10's/'20's/'30's) take a deep nose dive with their later movies. So far the only director that I know of that has remained consistent throughout the decades, from the '10's till the '50's has been King Vidor. Seems like Fritz Lang was stuck somewhere in the '20's or '30's with his directing. The directing and compositions for this movie are very old fashioned, which makes the movie now days feel quite outdated. It's quite static all but perhaps this was also due to the obviously restrained and limited budget of the movie.

Still good to see that the sort of signature dark, uneasy atmosphere by Fritz Lang also is present in this movie. However you can wonder if this type of atmosphere is really suited for a movie like this. At times I even expected the movie to turn into an horror movie, which was purely due to its atmosphere!

Lets face it, the swashbuckling genre was quite death and dried up already in the '50's. There were some attempts to revive the genre at that particular decade but all failed. This movie is no exception, although you can debate about it if this truly is a swashbuckler. It just lacks the much required action, even though by the ending the movie finally starts to take pace and takes some adventurous forms but by that time it's already quite to late to still make this movie an highly entertaining or exciting one. There just isn't enough happening in the movie!

The movie could had gone into some interesting directions (such as with the 'Redbeard'-plotline) but it just doesn't ever does so.

It's always risqué to tell a story almost completely from the view point of a child. It's an approach that rarely ever works out in a movie. Frtiz Lang, perhaps over confident with the success by him from the past, makes an attempt to pull it off with this movie. At first the movie still concentrates on the child but soon he makes room for the Stewart Granger character, who also soon but slowly starts to turn in the true main character of the movie. Good move, since this movie is too dark and fun enough to watch for children and adults won't find it interesting to watch a movie such as this one completely from the view point of a naive young boy.

The movie features some good and fairly well known actors in it but they fail to give the movie a real heart and make the characters come to life, at least not to a point that they're interesting, entertaining or good enough to care about. It doesn't help that the main character played by George Sanders is character that starts off as a bad guy and just nothing becomes really a good guy throughout the movie. He always remains a sort of a betraying and heartless scoundrel. You just never really start to care about him.

Perhaps the only thing that surprised and impressed in this movie was the musical score by Miklós Rózsa. It was really beautiful and perfectly adventurous. The sort of score that really suits the swashbuckling genre. The score only deserved a better movie! It's a soundtrack worth searching out!

In the end its a fairly enjoyable movie, that's however too old fashioned and not exciting enough to consider this a real good- or true adventurous movie.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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