Thursday, April 23, 2015


After a jousting competition in which Edmund of Cornwall unseats Roderick, the reigning champ of the rebellious Saxons, King Arthur falls ill with heart troubles and his daughter Katherine suggests that he recuperate away from prying eyes at Edmund's estate. On the way, they have a brief scuffle with the outlaw Robert Marshall, a kind of Robin Hood figure, but Marshall ends up joining them and is sent ahead to prepare the estate for the King's arrival. Marshall finds a mysteriously empty castle and a limping man who knocks him unconscious; when the royal entourage arrives, the strange man wounds Arthur with an arrow to the chest and gets away. Marshall is blamed and run out of the castle, but he hangs around in order to clear his name. Unknown to our entourage, Edmund is in league with the Saxons and is plotting to assassinate the King and take over the throne. A second assassination attempt by a marauding gang of Saxons succeeds and, with Katherine on the run with Marshall, Edmund claims the throne. Will Marshall and Katherine be able to find Merlin to help them oust the wicked pretender?

This film tries something interesting by giving the legends of both King Arthur and Robin Hood twists—I'd certainly never heard of a daughter named Katherine—but when the novelty has worn off, this is just another B-budget swashbuckler. The battle scenes are pulled off fairly well, and the sets are good, but the acting leaves something to be desired. Janette Scott, a B-actress made immortal by being name-checked in the Rocky Horror theme, is adequate as Katherine as is Ronald Howard as the villain. Only Ronald Lewis as the outlaw Marshall (pictured above to the left of Howard) makes much of an impression. The movie is generally fun; I wish there were a more magical air about it; the brief appearance of the enchanted sword Excalibur at the end is the only fantasy element here. [TCM]

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