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Finally got to see this one and really liked it. All I'd ever heard about it was that it was just 'ok' but nothing that special; well if you like Errol in a swashbuckling mode you've got to have this one, take my word! It's very reminiscent of his DON JUAN film and all the better for it. He's slightly jaded and world-weary and is able to laugh at the world's follies (and his own). And you can talk all you want to about his failing looks/health due to alcohol/drug/tobacco/whatever use (He was only five years from death while filming this)- the son of a gun moves in this thing. Swinging his sword, running, jumping in and out of windows. Plus the darned thing is filmed in Italy- real palaces and castles. The print I own is not that great but it's way better than nothing. A cinematic masterpiece? No. Errol doing what Errol does best? Yes Yes YES
Almost the Holy Grail for Flynn fans, this movie's virtually impossible to find. A routine costumer in most respects, it is notable to Flynn enthusiasts because, for once, he seems to be having a good time, with occasional flashes of the famous Flynn charm shining through, a rarity in his later pictures. Dubbed, sometimes badly, but good costumes and sets, and Gina and several other ladies are lovely to look at.
Crossed Swords was an independent 1953 Italian production undertaken by
Errol Flynn right after the termination of his contract with Warner
Brothers. Released by United Artists the following year, the costume
adventure received poor reviews and distribution in the United States,
and has since become the most difficult of all Flynn's adventure films
to find. There has been a print in circulation for some years but,
looking almost like a fifth generation video tape, it is quite hard to
Recently, however, a new pristine copy of the film has surfaced. While it only runs 78 minutes (as opposed to the originally listed 86 minute running time) it is quite sharp with lovely color photography. Curiously, while Flynn's voice can be heard on the English version soundtrack, co-star Gina Lollobrigida is dubbed, even though lip readers can clearly see that the actress was speaking English.
As for the film itself, it is a light-hearted attempt to rekindle the spirit of Flynn's Adventures of Don Juan from five years before. Once again Errol is a dashing adventurer/lothario making love to costumed ladies, this time in a 16th Century Italian boudoir, always ready to make a hasty window exit should their husbands return home. Alas, the film, by comparison, largely serves to remind one of just how clever and exciting the previous film had been.
Crossed Swords' screenplay is quite feeble and Milton Krim's direction often inept, frequently failing to realize scene potential. At one point the film features Flynn and co-star Cesare Danova both duelling opponents side by side, but with Danova in the foreground closest to the camera, largely blocking out the film's star! The film also seems at times crudely edited, though this may, in fairness, be more of a comment on the new truncated version than of the original production. I suspect it's a bit of both.
On the positive side, Crossed Swords is beautifully photographed by legendary cinematographer Jack Cardiff. Flynn leaps about and beams throughout the production. The actor seems to be having a good time, a marked contrast to the often grim presence that he had become in most of his post-Don Juan films. A fight sequence breaking out in a tavern is quite energetic, leading the actors to a moment of marvelous potential in which they duel on top of large wine casks. One wishes the director had made more of this moment than he did. The final duel, though, is well choreographed and surprisingly vigorous. Flynn, though doubled a bit, does most of the fencing. He has the "eye of the tiger" in some closeups in this highlight of the production and puts on a good show.
In summary, Crossed Swords is a film for Flynn fans, many of whom will enjoy watching their favorite deliver an impressive athletic demonstration for the last time in his career. As a movie, though, this often lame production only serves to remind one of what a high-water mark of excellence Adventures of Don Juan had been a few years before.
In the Citadel Films book The Films Of Errol Flynn, Errol was quoted as
saying he felt that the distribution of Crossed Swords in America was
not handled properly as the reason the film flopped. After finally
viewing the film, I think he may have had a point up to a degree.
Certainly he's not moving with same grace as he did in Captain Blood or The Sea Hawk, but his interpretation of Don Juan is of a more mature swashbuckler who's getting kind of weary of his life of romantic adventures. Not unlike The Adventures Of Don Juan which he did for Warner Brothers a few years earlier or of the real Flynn himself.
Crossed Swords has the older Don Juan taking on a pupil in Cesare Danova who is the heir to the duchy of Sidonia. Cesare is wanting to some wild oats and Flynn is certainly the best guy to show him how. When they return the first minister to Cesare's father, Roldano Lupi is proposing a new law outlawing bachelorhood among the male population. It's felt that it's the man's patriotic duty to get married and start sowing some seed for the population to grow.
Now that's something that will definitely cramp Flynn's style and he isn't having any of it. Neither is his pupil Danova who has a duty to provide an heir, but not just now. But Lupi has far more sinister schemes afoot and these two have to stop him.
Gina Lollobrigida is Danova's sister who Flynn interests up to a point, but not if it involves matrimony where Flynn is concerned. And Danova has a certain protective attitude toward his sister not unfounded where Flynn is concerned. For some reason her voice is dubbed in Crossed Swords and that was a surprise since so many American viewers had heard her real voice in later films. That year she also did Beat The Devil in her natural accented speaking voice so familiar to us.
I'm inclined to believe Flynn might have something of a case. The film which is done on location in Italy photographed beautifully by Jack Cardiff might have been better handled had it's more comedic elements been showcased in the advertising campaign. It certainly isn't up to the standards of his Warner Brothers years, but Crossed Swords is all that a fan of Errol Flynn would wish and considerably more.
Errol Flynn has Gina Lollabrigida as his costar in Crossed Swords, with Cesare Danova costarring, as the heir to the duchy of Sidonia. The movie opens with Errol and Cesare on their way back to the castle, but are constantly finding temptation, especially Errol. And, when husbands come home, the wives scream and Errol jumps out of the window. The movie right away sets up the tone of the film with the viewer. When they do arrive at the castle, they find that a new law is being proposed to outlaw bachelorhood among the male population. That's outrageous, Errol says. But many feel that it's the man's duty to get married and set a good example. Gina is Danova's sister who Flynn is interested in up to a point, but he does not want to get married and is quite adamant about it. Young Danova has his own oats to sow for now, too. Despite the bad copy I had of this on DVD, I enjoyed the campy and over-the-top quality of this film. It seems to give just what Flynn fans expect of him, a grand old time. The title Crossed Swords is a little confusing to me, as it centers more on comedic situations than duels and action. But I'm sure they were trying to get Flynn fans to the movies. While no grade-A film, I enjoy its efforts to entertain. So what happens to Errol? Does Gina ensnare him? Does the law trap him? Does Errol get the better of them? You tell me.
Was it really that long before this that Errol Flynn was young,
good-looking and healthy? Think of him and you conjure up a dashing,
athletic Robin Hood or Captain Blood. Fast forward 15 years and the
dissolute Flynn appears soft and dissipated from living in the fast
lane. Here he not only stars in but wastes his money on a crummy period
piece with a laughable plot.
"Crossed Swords" is a flop movie masquerading as a swashbuckling action picture but contains precious little action. It opens as he jumps out a damsel's bedroom window just ahead of her husband, which is just the way he might like to be remembered. The film then bogs down for the next 80 minutes or so, as he slogs through some poor acting and a very poor music score. There is nothing to recommend it except for the color. I saw it on a 16 mm print which was in remarkable condition, better than Flynn himself, I imagine.
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