During the 1700s, pirate Captain Vallo seizes a British warship and gets involved in various money-making schemes involving Caribbean rebels led by El Libre, British envoy Baron Jose Gruda, and a beautiful courtesan named Consuelo.
During the Rif War in Morocco, the French Foreign Legion's outpost of Tarfa is threatened by Khalif Hussein's tribes but Sergeant Mike Kincaid devises a plan of survival until the arrival of French reinforcements.
Twelfth-century Lombardy lies under the iron heel of German overlord Count Ulrich 'The Hawk', but in the mountains, guerillas yet resist. Five years before our story, Ulrich stole away the pretty wife of young archer Dardo who, cynical rather than embittered, still has little interest in joining the rebels. But this changes when his son, too, is taken from him. The rest is lighthearted swashbuckling, plus romantic interludes with lovely hostage Anne.Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Veteran stuntman Duke Green was seriously injured doing a stunt in this film. He was supposed to catch his foot in a snare on a forest pathway and be whipped upright off his feet. The rigging from the platform above him broke, and he plunged to the ground, breaking his neck. He eventually recovered to a degree and did some minor stuntwork in the years following, but the injury effectively ended his 25-year career as a stuntman. See more »
When Piccolo is fighting the guardsman in the balcony he flips his sword around and holds the blade with his hand (showing it cannot be sharp) and then whacks the guardsman with the broad side of the blade near the hilt, bending it at least 20-25 degrees. See more »
THE FLAME AND THE ARROW (Jacques Tourneur, 1950) ***
Lively, colorful period romp in the Warners’ style made in the wake of ADVENTURES OF DON JUAN (1948) – featuring the same villain, Robert Douglas, no less – but actually fashioned after their most successful swashbuckler, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938).
Burt Lancaster – with his acrobatic training and cheerful countenance in full bloom – is perfect casting for the heroic role of Dardo, a kind of Italian Robin Hood (even down to displaying similar prowess as an archer); Virginia Mayo, then, makes for an ideal heroine – like Olivia De Havilland’s Maid Marian, playing a noble woman who’s gradually drawn to the outlaw’s cause. Again, like the 1938 Robin Hood film, we have two villains: Frank Allenby as a tyrant known as “The Hawk” and the afore-mentioned Douglas as a Marquis; the latter’s role is interesting in that, banished by the former for tax evasion, he manages to infiltrate Lancaster’s band (along with his smart companion, a troubadour played by Norman Lloyd) and outwardly reform – but, when the opportunity arises, proceeds to reveal their plan of attack to Allenby!
Other twists and quirks to the Robin Hood formula (the sharp script was written by Waldo Salt, later an Oscar winner for MIDNIGHT COWBOY !) are the fact that Lancaster’s wife has left him for Allenby - their spirited son has remained with Lancaster, whom he idolizes, but is eventually captured and thought good manners against his will; when Lancaster imprisons Mayo in exchange for his son’s freedom, he keeps her chained by the neck to a tree!; for no apparent reason other than that he's able to, one of Lancaster’s men uses his feet to write ransom notes, etc.; Lancaster is sent to the gallows but, here, he gives himself up rather than being captured and actually fakes his own death!; and the climactic struggle inside the castle, which the gang penetrate incognito (this time dressed-up as a band of strolling players). The obligatory swordfight between Lancaster and Douglas, then, is given a novel touch by being partly set in the dark – the only evident nod to the noir style director Tourneur is best-known for!
The film itself received a couple of Oscar nominations for Ernest Haller’s gorgeous cinematography and Max Steiner’s marvelous score (it too bears a striking resemblance to Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s unforgettable work on THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD – as do the castle interiors – but this takes nothing away from the quality of THE FLAME AND THE ARROW itself!). Also worth noting in the cast is Nick Cravat as Lancaster’s mute sidekick: in the star’s days as an acrobat, he had been his partner and would often work with him in films – basically reprising his role here in Lancaster’s next swashbuckler, the seafaring THE CRIMSON PIRATE (1952; incidentally, also surprisingly but vigorously helmed by an expert in film noir, Robert Siodmak). Speaking of the latter, a couple of years back I re-acquainted myself with it via a rental of Warner’s bare-bones DVD edition – but its predecessor/companion piece is, mysteriously, still M.I.A. on disc...
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