The Swordsman (1948)
I happened to pick up this title about a year ago and on my shelf it sat. Just another film from yesteryear that I thought might fit into my collection somewhere. Kind of forgot about it till just recently when it caught my eye as I was looking for something rare and in my viewing world, kind of unknown.
Not sure why I waited so long as this proved to be a technicolor gem from the Errol Flynn school of adventure.
It’s a tale of Scottish clans at war in the late 17th century with a dash of Robin Hood and Romeo & Juliet sprinkled in to the script that features Larry Parks in the lead role of a young man returning to the family estate after ten years. He left as a child and returns a man. Romance and flirtations are in the air when he crashes a stagecoach for the final leg of the journey. Attractive Ellen Drew is aboard.
She’s the daughter of Holmes Herbert, head of the Glowan clan while Sparks is the son of Ray Collins, patriarch of the MacArdens. Their obvious attraction to one another is not likely to sit well with the families leading to plenty of swordplay and evil doings by none other than George Macready.
Macready is the supposed husband to be for Miss Drew. Naturally she can’t stand him and would much rather be courted by the new man who at this point hasn’t told her his true identity. When Parks hears of a day of fun and games at the Glowan clan’s castle, he shows up much the way Errol Flynn did in Robin Hood. In the end he’ll compete and win a spear competition leading to Macready and his brothers plotting to remove Parks from the countryside for good.
Parks will tangle with Macready and his evil brothers except one who is honest and true. When the one who is willing to set aside the family quarrels attempts to help Parks escape certain death, he is killed by his own brothers hand. The blame is of course cast towards Parks prompting his capture and subsequent falling out with Miss Drew whom he believes to have set the trap that led to his capture.
Plenty of sword fights will commence between the warring clans before the final curtain is drawn down upon the Scottish lands. While we know how it’s sure to end, it’s the fun in getting there that counts. In luscious technicolor no less! The cast includes the steady and reliable Edgar Buchanan in what I would call the Alan Hale role of Parks sidekick and sometime protector. Buchanan is one of those faces or perhaps I should say voices that populated the studio era turning so-so films into better ones when it came to the “B” unit productions.
I have to plead ignorance on the career of Parks but after a bit of research, find he was a victim of the communist witch hunts after beginning to achieve a certain amount of success on screen in films like The Jolson story. I must confess though that I would much rather have seen a Cornel Wilde take the cutlass here. With hardly a film to his name in the fifties and none post 1962, Parks remained married to Betty Garrett from 1944 up until his death in ’75.
On George Macready and his nasty ways, why not have a look at an overview of his criminal activities on screen as presented by “portraits by jenni.”
This Columbia feature was directed by Joseph H. Lewis of The Big Combo fame and is available as part of the made on demand titles put forth by the studio for the DVD crowd.