Saturday, December 23, 2017


I'm a big fan of swashbuckling movies. I don't get to see nearly enough of them, mainly because every time I sit down to watch one I'm judging it against a pair of almost impossible to match films. The first film is The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938) with Errol Flynn. When I first caught that movie I had no idea that it was setting such a high bar for adventure movies that almost everything I saw after that would seem a limp copy in comparison. The second film is similar but a little different - Richard Lester's 1973 film version of The Three Musketeers. Along with its continuation the Four Musketeers released in 1974 I consider this to be not just the best version on film of this amazing story but easily all together one of the best and most entertaining swashbuckling films ever made. I have watched both The Adventures of Robin Hood and the Three and Four Musketeers so many times that I feel I could quote them backwards and forwards. So when I say I love swashbuckling movies understand that, for me, those are the unassailable classics and everything else is just trying to match those amazing cinematic adventures.

Over the years I've watched a number of other Three Musketeer adaptations and films that are 3 Musketeers related in some way or another and I've always come away disappointed. Even the best of these films just seem to be missing a little something. It might be an odd bit of casting that doesn't work (usually an American in a role) making me feel as if they're not quite what they're supposed to be. Or something the sour note is as silly as just aiming the dialogue a little too young, as if the film were only supposed to be viewed as a kiddie Saturday afternoon feature. I also try to catch just about every Robin Hood movie that I can see and I have the same problem with most of them as well. Although I've enjoyed a number of alternate takes on the Robin Hood story most of them are only somewhere in the mid-range of entertaining and none of them come even remotely close to giving me that thrill of adventurous joy as that Errol Flynn classic.

I had the DVR capture AT SWORD'S POINT because it's a tale about the children of the Musketeers who are called into service decades after their original tale ended. These young, untried adventurers are needed to help the ailing queen put her sickly child on the throne. This is made much more difficult by a noble born villain desperately trying to marry his way to the throne even if that means doing away with the young boy King.

This film shares most of the faults I've already enumerated for these types of movies but it's a pretty fun time, mostly because of the cast. Cornel Wilde throws himself into the main hero role with real energy giving several of the swordfight scenes some zest. Also, the supporting cast of familiar faces (including regular Errol Flynn co-star Alan Hale) are strong doing what they can with underwritten characters. But the true standout is the always impressive Maureen O'Hara as the daughter of a Musketeer who is just as formidable with a sword as her companions. She is a joy to see running around with the guys alternately lusting after her and backing her up in a fight. I joked with my girlfriend that the film could be re-titled The Hot Redhead Kicks Ass All Over France but I doubt that would have set well with the parents dropping their kids off to see a Musketeer tale!

Long story short - AT SWORD'S POINT is another mid-range swashbuckler but it's points of interest make it worth a look. 

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