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In 1858 France, Emperor Louis Napoleon sends Captain Renault of the Royal Dragoons, Minister La Roche and Major Nicolet to Normandy in search of the members of a group of rebels. A Masked Cavalier, the niece, Lady Christianne, of the Marquis De Montableau, announces at a secret meeting of the Normandy underground leaders that the fabled treasure of Monte Cristo was willed to her and she will use it to finance their cause. Her uncle, the only one who can decipher the symbols on the sword of Monte Cristo, the key to the treasure, derides her stand against the Emperor. La Roche takes possession of the sword and has the Marquis put into the dungeon. Christianne, as the Masked Cavalier, regains the sword from La Roche, but Captain Renault apprehends her and returns to sword to La Roche. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
THE SWORD OF MONTE CRISTO (Maurice Geraghty, 1951) **1/2
This is obviously yet another offshoot of Alexandre Dumas's "The Count Of Monte Cristo": however, from those I have watched, this is the one with the most tenuous connection since the famed treasure has been bequeathed to one of the characters involved in the narrative simply because he was the best friend of Edmond Dantes which would imply the latter having had no living relatives, thus negating the wife, son and grandson presented as rightful and, usually, wronged heirs in previous efforts (clearly made by other hands) spun from the original!
In any case, this Edward L. Alperson production, written by the director (whose first and sole venture for the big-screen in the latter capacity this proved to be no wonder his name was unfamiliar to me!), is nothing if not a hodgepodge of ideas borrowed from other films: to begin with, a raid on a coach sees the bandits wearing handkerchiefs over their mouths just like in a Western!; most crucially, we have the presence of a (female) avenger played by Paula Corday referred to as "The Masked Cavalier" but, in reality, a member of the French nobility whose mansion is conveniently outfitted a' la the Batcave with secret passages to facilitate her constant comings and goings which suggests that Geraghty somehow got his wires crossed with a typical Zorro adventure!
Unusually, the male protagonist (played by frequent Western/war movie star George Montgomery here effectively channeling Clark Gable!) shifts allegiances from an antagonist of the heroine to her ally and, predictably, lover (he being a Dragoon captain in the army of Louis Napoleon, not to mention a ladies' man who can never recall the name of his conquests!). Villainy is supplied by reptilian Berry Kroeger (as the ineffectual Emperor's half-brother, who fancies himself the power behind the throne and invariably also covets the Monte Cristo estate!) and burly William Conrad (when falling to his death at the climax, we are gratuitously treated to a shot of him hitting the ground with a loud thud!); others in the cast: Steve Brodie as Montgomery's obligatory sparring sidekick, Robert Warwick as Corday's tradition-bound uncle and the current guardian of the invaluable fortune at stake (whose location is inscribed on the hilt of the titular weapon) and Rhys Williams as the insurgent Mayor all-too-readily given away by his cohorts (amusingly, rather than devising a sensible plan to overthrow the oppressive regime, their underground meetings are replete with enthusiastic but wholly pointless outcries of "Down with Napoleon!"). Another unintentionally amusing moment comes when Corday, wounded in a swordfight with Kroeger, looks askance (in a cutaway to her incredulous face as if to say, "Get on with it!") at Montgomery who engages Kroeger not only in action but in sarcastic banter!
While the film is no classic and a few rungs below the standard of even the recently-viewed THE RETURN OF MONTE CRISTO (1946), there is no denying the sheer entertainment value and appealing pictorial qualities (for what it is worth, this was shot in a process boasting the unwieldy name of Supercinecolor!) to be elicited from this type of unassuming action-oriented fare. Indeed, I am toying with the idea of including in the current Easter epic marathon yet another low-budget variation on the source material concerned namely SWORD OF VENUS (1953), which has just been made available for those able and willing to lay their hands on it...
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