Although the nobles are at first inclined to tell the King what he can do with his truce, even at the cost of their lives, the wilier Comte de Ville (Peter Finch) persuades them that the wiser move would be to appear to accept the truce while working on the sly against their English overlords.
So the stage is set for nasty plots and feats of derring-do, as the King leaves his son, Prince Edward (Errol Flynn) to rule the barely-pacified province in his stead, while he returns to England. When Edward's widowed cousin and romantic interest Joan (Joanne Dru) is kidnapped by the Comte de Ville and held hostage, this hands-on monarch embarks on a quest to rescue her and her children.
Flynn the actor doesn't seem to have much zest for this production, no doubt regarding Allied Artists as a B-list outfit (as they generally were) compared with the major studios for whom he'd once worked. The romancing here is decidedly muted, compared to the classic swashbucklers of his early career. But even though his years of high living have obviously told on him, Flynn's still a commanding presence, and this role as a middle-aged warrior prince suits him well.
The story is nothing remarkable, with its share of duels and disguises and battles and hair's-breadth escapes. Although there's an interesting ambiguity to its being set during the Hundred Years' War: Here the conquering English prince is the hero, while the Comte de Ville and his French compatriots are the villains. Yet barely ten years prior to the release of this movie, who would have questioned the morality of resisting an invading army by fair means or foul? At least as regards Europe, and by this time colonialism had mostly fallen out of favor, too. So it seems to me a bit hard to believe that most viewers then or now wouldn't feel at least a little sympathy for the French conspirators, even if Edward's claim to the Aquitaine had some foundation in medieval law and custom.
For an Allied Artists flick, though, this has unusually good production values. (I was lucky enough to catch it on TCM, in letterbox format in a near-pristine print.) Besides Flynn himself, and a brief role for stunningly beautiful Yvonne Furneaux, the best things about this film are the cinematography, the fine British actors, the sets and costuming, and the staging of the battle scenes, especially de Ville's assault on the castle where Edward and Joan take refuge. For once, the armor is appropriate to the era and in a scene that's pretty unique for the genre, a pair of authentically primitive-looking cannon (yes, they had them back then) protected by a kind of giant shield-on-wheels known as a "mantlet" are used to shatter a castle gate.
This is the sort of movie that used to be called a "popcorn cruncher", before the reign of the frenetic, bloated, CGI-saturated summer blockbuster. It makes no pretense at being anything but what it is: A passable way to spend a rainy afternoon.