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The Black Knight (1954)

Approved | | Adventure, History | 26 August 1954 (UK)
During King Arthur's time, a sword maker wishes to win Lady Linet's heart but first he must become a noble knight.


Tay Garnett


Alec Coppel (original screenplay), Dennis O'Keefe (additional dialogue) | 1 more credit »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Alan Ladd ... John
Patricia Medina ... Linet
André Morell ... Sir Ontzlake (as Andre Morell)
Harry Andrews ... Earl Of Yeonil
Peter Cushing ... Sir Palamides
Anthony Bushell ... King Arthur
Laurence Naismith ... Major Domo
Patrick Troughton ... King Mark
Bill Brandon Bill Brandon ... Bernard
Ronald Adam ... The Abbot
Basil Appleby Basil Appleby ... Sir Hal
Thomas Moore Thomas Moore ... The Apprentice
Jean Lodge Jean Lodge ... Queen Guenevere
Pauline Jameson ... Lady Yeonil
John Kelly ... The Woodchopper


As a blacksmith John can't hope to win the hand of Linet, daughter of the Earl of Yeonil. Off he goes to prove himself a noble knight. He makes himself a suit of armor with a winged chicken helmet and runs around fighting for King Arthur as the Black Knight. Evil doings include plots by visiting kings and a Druid sacrificial ceremony at Stonehenge. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Alan Ladd's greatest ! Bigger than ever ! Better than ever ! Bolder than ever ! See more »


Adventure | History


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Alan Ladd's character is the Black Knight. Throughout the film no-one seems to notice his armour is, in fact, white. See more »


At a jousting tournament Sir Gwain is injured. his steward, Valiant (Alan Ladd) on his own strips him of his armour and puts it on (It would normally take at least 2 to do this) He's then lifted by block and tackle and lowered onto a horse. Later in full armour while escorting a princess he mounts a horse twice without any assistance. See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: The Earl of Yeonil's Castle. See more »


Remade as Siege of the Saxons (1963) See more »


The Whistling Gypsy
Written by Leo Maguire
Performed by Elton Hayes
See more »

User Reviews

THE BLACK KNIGHT (Tay Garnett, 1954) **1/2
30 March 2008 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

In my opinion, the finest cinematic renditions of the Arthurian legends have all been revisionist in nature – Robert Bresson’s ascetic LANCELOT DU LAC (1974), the uproarious MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1974) and John Boorman’s visceral Excalibur (1981) – but, for an entire generation of youngsters during the 1950s and 1960s (that to which my father belongs to be exact), the idealized, heroic Hollywood version of Camelot, its sovereign and inhabitants was the only one there was. In fact, they were spoilt for choice when it comes to depictions of pageantry in those days with Mel Ferrer, Brian Aherne (twice) and Richard Harris being among those who assuming on film the role of King Arthur.

In this modest, fairly routine but equally enjoyable British production, it is Anthony Bushell who gets to play the ruler of Camelot but the actor’s relative anonymity implies (correctly as it turns out) that his role in the narrative is merely a peripheral one. In fact, the leading man here is diminutive Hollywood star Alan Ladd: curiously cast as a taciturn English blacksmith with ideas above his station (generally directed towards aristocratic Patricia Medina), he is wrongly accused of both treason (by duplicitous Saracen knight Peter Cushing) and of cowardice (by Medina herself, after a Viking attack on her castle leaves her mother dead and father, played by Harry Andrews, half-crazed with grief)! However, with the help of a prescient knight (Andre' Morell) and after adopting the titular disguise, our commoner hero saves the day by routing the villains (who also include a dastardly Scottish royal – portrayed by yet another future Hammer horror stalwart Patrick Troughton, as well as Cushing’s laughing, would-be deaf-mute giant stooge), earning himself an official knighthood and, it goes without saying, Medina’s hand in marriage. Incidentally, the tale is set off by a ballad sung in a brief prologue by a minstrel (Elton Hayes) approaching a castle but, unexpectedly enough, rather than featuring in the upcoming narrative (as a singing squire or something), he quickly vanishes never to be seen or heard from again!

Apart from the film’s unsurprising reliance on cliché, it also contains elements of camp (particularly a Pagan rite being performed at Stonehenge and the cumbersome insignias worn on their helmets by the various knights) and leads up to a curiously clumsy climax (with an ostensibly unnoticed Ladd conspicuously overhearing the scheming Troughton and Cushing from a secret passage leading right behind the former’s throne; Ladd seemingly taken aback by the aforementioned giant falling to his death in spite of himself from the castle rooftop, not to mention Cushing apparently tripping in his own armor when turning up for the final showdown with the hero)! Actually, this only increases the film’s fun factor and, over fifty years later, one can still understand how this stuff was eagerly lapped up by thrill-seeking schoolboys during their weekly matinees. Incidentally, given Cushing’s reputation as a horror star, it may come as a surprise to some that he appeared in numerous costumers over the years – including THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (1939), Alexander THE GREAT (1956), JOHN PAUL JONES (1959), SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST (1960), THE HELLFIRE CLUB (1961), FURY AT SMUGGLER’S BAY (1961), CAPTAIN CLEGG (1963) and SWORD OF THE VALIANT (1984)!

For what it’s worth, the screenplay involves some notable names – Alec Coppel, future director Bryan Forbes and film noir star Dennis O’Keefe(!) – and its plot of King Arthur vs. The Vikings would come in handy once more that same year in the equally inauthentic but even more popular PRINCE VALIANT. Other distinguished crew members include composer John Addison, cinematographer John Wilcox, art director Vetchinsky and producers Irving Allen and Albert R. Broccoli(!) – this was actually the latter’s third and last picture with Ladd following THE RED BERET (1953) and HELL BELOW ZERO (1954). By the way, THE BLACK KNIGHT itself eventually got remade by Nathan Juran as SIEGE OF THE SAXONS (1963)!

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Release Date:

26 August 1954 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Le serment du chevalier noir See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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