My Favourite Swashbucklers Part II

The continuation of my post on my favourite classic swashbuckler movies. The first part can be found here.  There may be spoilers contained below, so if you haven’t seen the movies, you might want to check them out first!

3. The Mark of Zorro, 1940. Starring Tyrone Power, Basil Rathbone.

Tyrone Power was often said to be the best on screen sword fighter of his day. Here he takes on the role of the hero, Don Diego Vega against Basil Rathbone’s villain, Captain Pasquale. I should probably be putting this one in joint second, it’s that good, but, well, I didn’t!

I think pretty much everyone is familiar with the story of Zorro; nobleman takes up the cause of the oppressed common folk, wins them their freedom from tyranny, everybody rejoices. Even after all this time it makes for a great story.

The real high point of this film is the sword fight between Power and Rathbone and it’s as fine an example of on screen swashbuckling that you will find, possibly the best.

Having this film all the way down in third place really doesn’t do it justice, and any of my top five or six are more than worthy of the top spot.

4. The Adventures of Robin Hood, 1938. Starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone.

This is Errol Flynn at his peak, and is perhaps the movie he is most famous for, taking on the role of the film’s hero, Robin Hood. Basil Rathbone appears once again putting in a superb performance as the baddy, Guy of Gisbourne.

This is another one that needs little explanation. Robin Hood’s been done so many times over the years that there can’t be too many people who don’t know what it’s about!

The sword fight between Flynn and Rathbone is arguably the most exciting ever filmed. Thinking about it again, and having just taken another quick look at it I really find it hard to put it down here in fourth spot. It’s iconic and has everything you could want in a great sword fight including a shot of the duellist’s shadows on the wall as they fight. The only reason I can think of leaving it here at number four is that I really love all the movies that have come before it for reasons other than just sword play, and for some reason I’ve never been all that fond of the Robin Hood story, despite the fact that I really enjoy watching this movie every time I see it.

Again, any of the movies I’ve mentioned so far are deserving of the top spot and this one is no exception. Really worth a look just for that last fight if nothing else.

5.  Scaramouche, 1952. Starring Stewart Granger, Janet Leigh, Mel Ferrer.

The writing of Rafael Sabatini makes another appearance on the list, and it’s no coincidence that he is one of my favourite authors. Stewart Granger arriving on the scene means that we’ve now got pretty much all the greats of Hollywood swashbuckling (yes, I know there is one more!) present and accounted for. On an entirely individual level, he’s probably my favourite of the swashbuckling film stars and this is again a movie that could be in the top spot on a different day.

Somewhat more complicated storyline this time. Granger plays André Moreau, a French gentleman who does not know who his father is. The revolution comes which sees him becoming the champion of the people in opposition to the noble faction at the post revolutionary National Assembly, after a brief spell on the stage playing the character Scaramouche. Intrigue, twists and sword fights abound as he seeks revenge and also his true identity.

It’s a little difficult to pick out my favourite sword fight in this one; there are several, all of which are highly entertaining. As I write, I’m beginning to think this one should be bumped up the list a bit too. Having 5 joint number 1’s would be ridiculous though, wouldn’t it?

More to follow in Part III!

My Favourite Swashbucklers Part I

I spent quite a bit of time over the Christmas break watching classic movies. I’ve always been a big fan of the old swashbuckling Hollywood epics, and I got through quite a few of them in the past few weeks. For the next few blog posts I thought I’d go through my favourite swashbuckling classics.

The first warning is a spoiler alert. I’ll put one in at the start of each post, as I know how upset people can get when someone gives away the good bits. They’re all old movies so the chances are you’ll have come across the plots before, but if you haven’t seen them and want to, it might be an idea to watch it before reading the posts! Suffice to say, if you like classic swashbuckling type movies, all of the movies I mention will be worth a look!

My approach to this is to give a few specifics about the film, a one or two  line synopsis (if I can manage to condense it!) and a comment on the swashbuckling aspect.

Coming in at number one is my current personal favourite, and perhaps not what would be considered an obvious choice.

1. Adventures of Don Juan, 1948. Starring Errol Flynn and Viveca Lindfors.

Much of the commentary on this movie seems to be of the opinion that Errol Flynn was past his prime when he made this film. However, as a chap now on the wrong side of thirty myself, I think he did a pretty bang up job.

The title sums it up really; it’s about the adventures of the famous lady’s man Don Juan as he is punished for his general misbehaviour and gets caught up in a political intrigue at the Spanish court in the 17th century.

This film gets my number one spot not only because the whole movie is good fun, but because the stairway duel at the end is my all-time favourite film sword fight.

While picking my number one was not difficult, the next few were tough to choose between, and on another day the order might be different!

2. Captain Blood, 1935. Starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone.

Flynn’s first big Hollywood role and the one that made him a star. It’s based on the eponymous book by Rafael Sabatini and is the first mention of an actor that will feature frequently on this list (2nd only to Flynn off the top of my head) whose name you’ve probably not heard before, Basil Rathbone. This one got the edge over number 3 as the book is also one of my all-time favourites.

Captain Peter Blood gets caught up in the Monmouth Rebellion in 17th Century England and is unjustly punished by being  shipped off to Jamaica as a slave. While there he escapes and becomes captain of a pirate ship; derring-do, swashbuckling and romance ensues.

The swashbuckling peak in this movie is the duel on the beach between Captain Blood and the villainous Captain Levasseur, brilliantly played by Rathbone.

Captain Blood is a solid claimant for the number two spot, but not without stiff competition and what could easily be argued as an equally strong claim by the film in 3rd place, which will appear in my next post!

Part II can be found here.