(Review originally written at 18 October 2007)

It isn't until the end that the movie turns into a spectacular and true swashbuckler. In between there are too many long moments in which basically nothing is happening. Also often the action just seems to drop out of nowhere and the movie features some awkward and forced humor, that perhaps even is a bit embarrassing to watch. But hey, everyone knows that the greatest swashbucklers were not made in the '50's.

The story is just a great one. It's an absolutely top-class and solidly constructed story. It had lots of potential in it and interesting characters and motivations. The movie however never really fully uses all this potential You can't help when looking at this movie thinking how much better it all could had been, or at least more entertaining, if it just went that one step further. The movie gets obviously restrained by its low budget but that's no excuses in my opinion. The directing is rather bland and imaging-less. Strange though, since Richard Thorpe is obviously a capable director.

The love-story feels forced, as if it was simply a needed ingredient. It of course always has been a part of the swashbuckler genre but in this particular case they would had been better off skipping it, since it's simply not believable in the story and there is no chemistry between the two lovers, played by Robert Taylor and Kay Kendall.

The end still makes up a lot for the movie, when the main hero and villain are clashing their weapons, while swinging in a bell tower. Great swashbuckling stuff.

The movie has some great characters in it but non of them quite work out, since they are being portrayed too formulaic. You know this is the sort of movie in which the villains all wear black and the good guys are all colorful and stuff. A shame, since it again, showed some real good potential.

Robert Taylor did a good job, although he really ain't no Errol Flynn. He also was perhaps a little bit too old for his role already. He was 44 at the time and he really looked like it. It's also not hard to see why Kay Kendall nothing really had a sparkling career, though her early dead in 1959 also of course contributed to this.

Not a that bad movie but the Sir Walter Scott novel deserved a better treatment.


About Frank Veenstra

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