HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
Newest Reviews
Pain and Glory
Judgment at Nuremberg
Rambo: Last Blood
Sansho the Bailiff
Iron Fury
Ride in the Whirlwind
Deathstalker II
Cloak and Dagger
Honeyland
Love Ban, The
Western Stars
League of Gentlemen, The
Higher Power
Shinsengumi
IT Chapter Two
Rich Kids
Arena
Glory Guys, The
Serial Killer's Guide to Life, A
Lovers and Other Strangers
Shiny Shrimps, The
Good Woman is Hard to Find, A
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
Doctor at Sea
Spear
Death Cheaters
Wild Rose
Streetwalkin'
Mystify: Michael Hutchence
Devil's Playground, The
Cleanin' Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters
Hustlers
Mega Time Squad
Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker
Souvenir, The
Birds of Passage
Ma
Woman at War
Happy as Lazzaro
Mickey's Christmas Carol
   
 
Newest Articles
Bash Street Kid: Cosh Boy on Blu-ray
Seeing is Believing: Being There on Blu-ray
Top Thirty Best (and Ten Worst) Films of the 2010s by Andrew Pragasam
Top of the Tens: The Best Films of the Decade by Graeme Clark
Terrorvision: A Ghost Story for Christmas in the 1970s
Memories Are Made of This: La Jetee and Sans Soleil on Blu-ray
Step Back in Time: The Amazing Mr. Blunden on Blu-ray
Crazy Cats and Kittens: What's New Pussycat on Blu-ray
No Place Like Home Guard: Dad's Army - The Lost Episodes on Blu-ray
A Real-Life Pixie: A Tribute to Michael J. Pollard in Four Roles
We're All In This Together: The Halfway House on Blu-ray
Please Yourselves: Frankie Howerd and The House in Nightmare Park on Blu-ray
Cleesed Off: Clockwise on Blu-ray
Sorry I Missed You: Les Demoiselles de Rochefort on Blu-ray
Silliest of the Silly: Monty Python's Flying Circus Series 1 on Blu-ray
Protest Songs: Hair on Blu-ray
Peak 80s Schwarzenegger: The Running Man and Red Heat
Rock On: That'll Be the Day and Stardust on Blu-ray
Growing Up in Public: 7-63 Up on Blu-ray
Learn Your Craft: Legend of the Witches and Secret Rites on Blu-ray
70s Psycho-Thrillers! And Soon the Darkness and Fright on Blu-ray
Split: Stephen King and George A. Romero's The Dark Half on Blu-ray
Disney Post-Walt: Three Gamechangers
But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci: Tony Hancock's The Rebel and The Punch and Judy Man on Blu-ray
Once Upon a Time in Deadwood: Interview with Director Rene Perez
   
 
  Flame and the Arrow, The Liberating Lombardy, one arrow at a timeBuy this film here.
Year: 1950
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Stars: Burt Lancaster, Virginia Mayo, Robert Douglas, Aline MacMahon, Frank Allenby, Nick Cravat, Lynn Baggett, Gordon Gebert, Norman Lloyd, Victor Kilian, Francis Pierlot, Robin Hughes
Genre: Historical, Adventure
Rating:  8 (from 2 votes)
Review: Twelfth century Lombardy provides a picturesque backdrop as forest-dwelling free spirit Dardo Bertoli (Burt Lancaster) brings his young son Rudy (Gordon Gebert) to his village home. Five years before, Dardo’s aristocratic wife Francesca (Lynn Baggett), abandoned her family for a life as the pampered spouse of Hessian tyrant Count Ulrich the Hawk (Frank Allenby), leaving the affable acrobat and expert archer cynical and reluctant to interfere in the affairs of others. But when Ulrich abducts Rudy to life with his mother at their castle, Dardo gathers a band of merry men to wage a guerrila war against the invaders. Aided by mute sidekick Piccolo (Nick Cravat), Dardo kidnaps Count Ulrich’s niece, the beautiful and spirited Anne de Hesse (Virginia Mayo), who wins his heart amidst many swashbuckling adventures.

Burt Lancaster began a long association with producer Harold Hecht with this ebullient romp that revived the swashbuckler in Hollywood. The Flame and the Arrow basically transplants the Robin Hood story to Medieval Italy but also draws a fair amount from the legend of William Tell, particularly at the climax with Dardo aiming an arrow at a villain using his son as a human shield. With their stories of brave freedom fighters tweaking the nose of tyranny and oppressive regimes it is little wonder the swashbuckler held such appeal for American audiences both pre and post-World War Two, not to mention the European exiles who often made them. Although every swashbuckler dwells in the long shadow cast by the justly celebrated The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), film noir and horror specialist Jacques Tourneur introduced a compelling psychological dimension that set this apart from the relatively carefree exploits of Errol Flynn.

On the surface Dardo’s psychological weakness appears to be his mistrust of women, though it evidently does not hamper his active libido, but Tourneur deftly sidesteps misogyny by showing this is only a manifestation of a lack of faith in his own judgement. Having seen his wife run off with his mortal enemy, Dardo adopts a cavalier attitude towards life and relationships that is a subtle deconstruction of Errol Flynn’s stock devil-may-care persona. At the start of the film he is a self-reliant superhero too enamoured of his own carefree freedom to take much interest in other people’s problems. Gradually, with the aid of stalwart friends and a courageous love interest in Anne, Dardo grows to realise a man cannot live by himself alone. He needs not only friendship but ideals as well.

If Dardo is the titular arrow then Anne is arguably his guiding flame, a perceptive and forthright young woman who draws out his latent humanity. Burt Lancaster’s gleaming smile is well paired with Virginia Mayo’s luminous beauty which the Sultan of Morocco famously declared to be “tangible proof of the existence of God.” Her potent combination of near-ethereal eroticism and angelic sincerity provides a neat counterbalance for Lancaster’s athletic vigour. The pair re-teamed for South Sea Woman (1953) though in real life Mayo was supposedly less than fond of her co-stars none too gentlemanly behaviour in their love scenes. Aside from Mayo, The Flame and the Arrow also paired Lancaster with his onetime circus partner Nick Cravat. Cast as a mute on account of his thick New York Bronx accent, as he would be again in The Crimson Pirate (1954), Cravat steals more than a few scenes with his gregarious pantomime.

Tourneur ensures the film gallops along at a furious clip (as indeed most Warner Brothers films did back then, regardless of genre) with energetic action sequences and good humour along with some memorable characters. Robert Douglas exudes suave villainy as the Marchese Alessandro de Granazia, an aristocrat who stands as something of a moral counterpoint to Dardo in that he switches sides depending on the situation. Although the action is consistently involving the last fifteen minutes prove especially spectacular as Lancaster and Cravat perform some astounding feats and indulge in a cheeky in-joke: “I always said we should have been acrobats!”

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 2284 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (2)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star is the best at shouting?
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Brian Blessed
Tiffany Haddish
Steve Carell
Olivia Colman
Captain Caveman
Sylvester Stallone
Gerard Butler
Samuel L. Jackson
Bipasha Basu
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
  Rachel Franke
Enoch Sneed
Paul Smith
Paul Shrimpton
  Desbris M
   

 

Last Updated: