In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King ...
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Noble-born cad Denis (Stapley) has been tricked into a forced stay at the eerie manor of the Sire de Maletroit (Laughton), an evil madman who can't get over the death of his beloved, twenty... See full summary »
After World War II, a Highland Regiment's acting Commanding Officer, who rose from the ranks, is replaced by a peace-time Oxford-educated Commanding Officer, leading to a dramatic conflict between the two.
In the 15th century Richard Duke of Gloucester, aided by his club-footed executioner Mord, eliminates those ahead of him in succession to the throne, then occupied by his brother King Edward IV of England. As each murder is accomplished he takes particular delight in removing small figurines, each resembling one of the successors, from a throne-room dollhouse, until he alone remains. After the death of Edward he becomes Richard III, King of England, and need only defeat the exiled Henry Tudor to retain power.Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
All in all, this oddball 90-minutes could be called a noir costume drama. The lighting is either dull gray, shadowy b&w, or plain foggy, all the way through. Of course, this befits a very dour tale based, it seems, on some historical fact. As the scheming Richard of Gloucester, the sharp-featured Rathbone is perfect. And by golly, nothing's going to stand in the way of his becoming a 15th century King of England, even if he has to step on half his family to get there. Of course, he's got reliable old clubfoot Mord (Karloff) to do the dirty work. And do it, he does.
It's impressive how well Rathbone transitions here from the unscrupulous plotter to his later intellectual gumshoe Sherlock Holmes. There's been no one quite so compelling before or since. Then too, as Mord, the great Karloff makes better use of his massive frame than usual. With his bald head (though the skull cap seams sometimes show), he's an incomparable presence. Still, there's that fleeting moment where the murderous Mord contemplates the sleeping bodies of the two doomed princes and the cruelty of his work. It passes quickly but amounts to a telling touch. Then there's that memorable scene where the Duke of Clarence (Price) and Richard compete for most quaffed wine in royal history; that is, before Clarence gets to bathe in the vat permanently. Though I've never again heard of Malmsey kind of wine, that scene's stayed with me for years.
In my little book, director Lee is underrated for his work here and in other costume epics he seems to have specialized in, e.g. Captain Kidd (1945). Nonetheless, the movie is flawed in certain respects, as other reviewers point out. There's a heckuva lot of characters that come and go, so you may need the proverbial scorecard. Plus, the royalty gets their finery to wear, but the bare-bones interiors look like the budget didn't cover set decoration. And I'm still wondering how combatants could tell friend from foe in those fog shrouded battle scenes that come across like cloudy nightmares.
Anyhow, I know nothing about the historical accuracy of what's on screen. Nonetheless, the oddball results have stayed with me for near 6-decades. Thanks, Rathbone and Karloff, and especially a long-gone TV Late Show.
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