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James Robertson Justice gives an Oscar-caliber performance as King Henry VIII, tangling with little sister, Princess Mary Tudor, over her love life: he wants to sell her to France where she would marry elderly King Louis XII, but she is madly in love with adventurer Charles Brandon. Disney film encompasses all of their early strengths as a studio: enchanting romance, sly good humor, sword-fighting action, terrific production values and beautiful background score (which, by the way, if you find on vinyl is worth a pretty penny). Pure fun, with captivating Glynis Johns as Mary, Richard Todd dashing as Brandon, and Justice the best English King I have ever seen on film. A joy! *** from ****
This is not an action picture, but an enchanting historical or pseudo-historical romance taken from a Charles Major novel which was very popular, especially with women, many decades ago. It tells the story of Mary, the sister of Henry VIII who was married to king Louis XII of France. But the movie tells chiefly of his love for a commoner, Brandon, and how it eventually succeeded. An excellent reconstruction of the ambiance and ways of living,of the English Court in the 16th century, a screen play full of humor (incidentally, what became of the scenarist, Lawrence Edward Watkin, whose thirties novel "On Borrowed Time" was such a delight?), magnificent photography, all this contributes to make The Sword and the Rose one of the better Disney films. But what makes it exceptional, is the magnificent performances of Glynis Johns and James Robertson Justice. In Miss Johns' hands, Mary is a woman every man would be proud and satisfied to fall in love with. And the Henry VIII of Mr Justice justifies comparison with Charles Laughton's.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a remake of the great 1922 silent film When Knighthood Was In
Flower that starred Marion Davies as Princess Mary Tudor, sister of
Henry VIII of England. Glynis Johns essays the part here and her verbal
duels with James Robertson Justice as Henry VIII are what gives this
film it's spark. Richard Todd is a fine and dashing Charles Brandon,
object of Mary's affections.
It's a quaint tale for today's audiences which is now used to seeing royalty marry commoners. But back in the 16th century that wasn't done. Just entertaining the thought could get you clapped in irons. But the story of Charles Brandon and Mary Tudor is one of the great romantic tales of English royalty.
Charles Brandon is a soldier of fortune who catches the eye of Princess Mary Tudor while at Henry VIII's court. Henry's idea is to get an alliance going with France by offering up his sister as the second wife of the aged Louis XII. We also have the Duke of Buckingham as the constable of England who's got his own plans concerning Mary.
Mary does go to France and marries Louis XII. But inside of a year she's a royal widow. This being a Disney film and such things are not dealt with there, but it is clearly indicated that the young princess wore the old king out in every conceivable way, as might have been her plan in the first place.
Richard Todd and James Robertson Justice are doing their second film for Disney having both been in the earlier Robin Hood. Todd was at the height of his career and it's a pity he faded out in the sixties. He had the looks and charisma and should have been a lot bigger.
That booming voice of James Robertson Justice is a treat to listen to in every film he's in. It was years later that Henry VIII was busy changing wives and religions and chopping off heads. Here he's a merry king as he was reputed to be in those years of his reign. James Robertson Justice gives a delightful interpretation.
One of Disney's better products and highly recommended.
After reading all of the negative reviews on this movie, I just had to give one on my opinion. This is my all time favorite movie. I love the dynamics between the actors and the chemistry between Charles Brandon and the Princess Mary. I love that I can sit down to watch it and feel the emotion that was meant for the viewer to feel. So what if there are discrepancies in the storyline, the wardrobe, and the actors portrayal of the real people from history? I don't really care. This is a great movie, and it will always be at the very top of my favorites list. If you know what's good for you, you will watch it, you will LOVE it, and you will tell your friends how amazing it is, too!
Amazingly, although this film is 62 years old, having come out when I was a teenager, and stars a load of some of my favorite English actors (Glynis Johns, James Robertson Justice and Michael Gough, to name only three), I had never seen it until tonight. I was absolutely amazed at how delightful it was, how great and authentic every scene in it looked, how seriously the actors took their very excellent dialogue - it's a bit more of a comedy than anything else, but it has its dramatic moments - and just the general air of intelligence that permeated what was, of course, a Disney film primarily intended for young audiences. Yet much in the screenplay was quite adult, perhaps most especially Mary Tudor's idea of getting the old French King (and her new husband) to imbibe liberally of the wine at their wedding festivities in order to incapacitate him and not have to consummate their marriage that night. That may not be very much in 2015, but in 1953 it was nearly licentious and quite a great deal to put into a Disney film meant primarily for kids. Of course, the trick here is that if one accepts the overly romantic nature of the film, it is one that will appeal to most intelligent adults, too, if only due to the excellence of the dialogue in the hands of Johns and Justice. And at the start I actually thought Michael Gough was going to play somebody truly noble - Michael Gough, noble? - but by the middle of the film he was deep into his usual villainy; one should never trust Michael Gough any more than one might have trusted Victor Jory a decade or two earlier! Anyway, the wrestling scene, the Mary Tudor ball and the dance introduced into it, the hunting scene, etc. looked totally authentic to me, whether they really were or not, and remember folks, this is all make-believe and made to be enjoyed rather than examined too closely. All in all, I think this has immediately become my favorite Disney live-action film (certainly of the "costume-variety" ones) thanks to the wonderful give-and-take of the dialogue. I think it achieves 100% of what was intended by its makers, and it's hard to find fault with that!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For its age, this one isn't doing too badly. As a Disney production it
was never going to be serious stuff like 'The Lion In Winter', neither
was it going to be a sword 'n' sandals epic. Still; there's a lot
James Robertson-Justice plays Henry 8th with bags of regal - if rather tongue-in-cheek - gusto. He's out to marry-off his obstinate sister Mary to the King of France. She, of course, has her own ideas. Glynis Johns convincingly plays the sister with her usual sultry charm. Enter a new champion in the guise of rather wooden-looking Richard Todd. Unfortunately, he's a commoner. But this is Disney, so love must triumph. Though it must also contend with plenty of shenanigans and betrayals first. There's a variety of courtly courtiers with recognisable faces, and more important - recognisable accents. Not a single Yank did I hear. It's filmed in colour which is quite sumptuous. Set pieces are decent, costumes look 'fit-for purpose' as they say, and the script is a lot cleverer than some.
It's hokey, as you'd expect from a Disney interpretation of English history, but if you catch it as a matinée, it's good for a laugh. I think our late Lord-Liege got pretty good press in this one compared with the evidence of history. At times, I couldn't help thinking of 'Carry On Henry'.
This movie just seemed to miss its mark. There were moments when it offered to develop into a much more subtle and intelligent work. But each time things were stymied by a joke or some shallow dramatic turn. Still, I guess it was made with kids in mind.
Out of Walt Disney productions, The Sword and the Rose (AKA: When
Knighthood Was in Flower) is directed by Ken Annakin and adapted to
screenplay by Lawrence Edward Watkin from the novel "When Knighthood
Was In Flower" written by Charles Major. Story is based around Mary
Tudor (Glynis Johns), a younger sister of Henry VIII (James Robertson
Justice), who falls in love with a new arrival at court, Charles
Brandon (Richard Todd). This severely upsets The Duke Of Buckingham
(Michael Gough) and it sets in motion the wheels of jealousy and
The source material had already inspired two films to be made in 1908 and 1922, suggesting that as a story it has much to offer. But although it's undeniably colourful, with great costuming, and good acting performances, it's a dull affair all told. It doesn't even have historical accuracy to fall back on as an excuse for how lacklustre it is. The romance is lukewarm and there's never any exciting pay off as regards the battle for Mary's love between Buckingham and Brandon. There's fun value in Justice's take on Henry VIII, while the sets are exemplary, but even allowing for it being a Disney family effort, it's a film that can bore both adults and children alike. 4/10
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!"
Disney was,of course,the best one for family entertainment.He really did create the market for films and television programs designed specifically for children.My only observation that can be seen as at all less than glowing is that,while violence per se is never eschewed,moral ambiguities are.Evil,for example,is portrayed in a relatively straightforward fashion,but bias,bigotry,and viciousness usually aren't.Consequently, the characterizations seen in his films are often less than 3 dimensional.His good characters,consequently,lack the flaws and failings that would round them out.
It's my understanding that Disney himself came from an emotionally and physically abusive background,characterized by alcoholism and a lack of love.I think,therefore,that his OWN search for nurturing figures,safety,and security show up in many of his films,reflected in the struggles and psychological journies of his protagonists.Not at all unusual,and indeed,perhaps inevitable.Nonetheless,as a result,his films need to be interpreted with this in mind.
This splendid,well-done,and highly enjoyable romance gives a delightful performance by Mr. Justice,which is historically less than accurate.Justice's portrayal of King Henry is that of a hearty,virile,good-natured and larger than life figure,who possess not only a sense of humor,but one of fun.He's both lovable and loving.This is the monarch that we wish Henry HAD been!And,sad to say,he wasn't.The really Henry VIII was a selfish,lustful,bloodthirsty,and boorish tyrant and monster,who crushed anyone who stood in his way.So,enjoy Justice's performance,based on the lusty,witty,drunken Falstaff.
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