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Tells the story of Mary Tudor and her troubled path to true love. Henry VIII, for political reasons, determines to wed her to the King of France. She tries to flee to America with her love but is captured when she is "un-hatted" on board ship. In return for her consent to the marriage with France, Henry agrees to let her choose her second husband. When King Louis of France dies, Mary is kidnaped by the Duke of Buckingham. He tries to force her to marry him but she is rescued by her love in an exciting battle on the beach. Written by
James D. Bozarth <email@example.com>
O Mary mine, wert thou a burgher's daughter, and with thy fair self in every other way, I'd take thee with me o'er the perilous water to the New World, where none could say us nay. O Mary mine - fair jewel, star set in the heaven above - thou art a Princess in a world apart... of castles, diadems, and of courtly love beyond my dreams. For kings will give thee gold, and princes bring thee gems from distant lands. The only wealth that I may ever hold are these fair flowers for thy maiden hands - ...
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I really think Disney, when doing period films, did best when sticking to the musical comedy vein, as in "Mary Poppins" or the lesser-known (but hilarious) "Adventures of Bullwhip Griffin." When they tried to play it straight, the results are usually nothing to write home about, such is the case in "The Sword and the Rose." Now, Glynis Johns is beautiful and provides a very fine performance, and James Robertson Justice as Henry VIII, doing his best Falstaff impersonation, is quite amusing. I also enjoyed many of the supporting players, from the pratfalling King of France to his evil Pepe le Pew successor, Francis.
Unfortunately, Richard Todd as Charles Brandon is dull, dull, dull. One thing is for certain, he is no Errol Flynn. I kept thinking- why would Princess Mary want to run off with this guy? Todd is unfortunately typical of many 1950s leading men, like Cornel Wilde and Rory Calhoun, who seemed to substitute square jaws and blank stoicism for actual charm, charisma, and talent. Perhaps I would have enjoyed the film more if there had been more action scenes and swashbuckling, but there were so many scenes of Brandon and the Princess cooing over each other that I found myself getting restless. At times like this, a vaudeville number would be much appreciated.
However, the movie is relatively fast paced enough, so I wasn't too bored. The costuming, for a '50s Disney movie, is okay, although of course no one will be surprised to hear that it actually bears little resemblance to early Tudor fashions circa 1514. Justice is way too old to be playing Henry (Henry would have been in his mid 20s at the time) and all of his clothes look to be taken from the Holbein portraits from the 1530s and 1540s. All the women are wearing farthingales (not introduced until later), and most annoying, is that Catherine of Aragon, who was really a plump, sweet-natured redhead, is portrayed as a dour stick-thin black-haired hag who flounces around in a succession of horrifically gaudy outfits. Well, what else can be expected of a Disney movie, I suppose. It's a reasonably pleasant, inoffensive way of passing the time, and I very much liked Glynis Johns, although I constantly expected her to burst out singing: "Well done, Sister Suffragette!"
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