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Monday, September 23, 2013

The Black Knight (1954)

A blacksmith (Alan Ladd) in the service of the Earl of Yeonil (Harry Andrews) is in love with the Earl's daughter (Patricia Medina). When Cornish men disguised as Vikings attack and burn the Earl's castle, the blacksmith adopts the identity of The Black Knight and attempts to foil a plan by a traitorous pagan (Patrick Troughton) and a Saracen (Peter Cushing) to usurp King Arthur's (Anthony Bushell) throne. This rather stodgy tale of knights in shining armor and damsels in distress can't stand on its own and when placed against a superior example of the genre like IVANHOE or even the lesser BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH, its inadequacies are glaring. Poor Alan Ladd is not only too old but he looks terrible, tired and pudgy, and he isn't helped by a disfiguring wig (at least I hope it's a wig!). As the only American in the all British cast, he's terribly out of place as a medieval knight. The only moment of real fun is a kitschy Hammeresque sequence with pagan maidens bumping and grinding around stone phallic symbols during a virgin sacrifice while friars are burned in baskets. Other than that respite, it's a rather plodding affair. Directed by Tay Garnett. With Andre Morell, Laurence Naismith and Ronald Adam.

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