Saturday, July 19, 2014

Tonight's Movie: The Warriors (1955) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

THE WARRIOR (1955), also known as THE DARK AVENGER, was a nice surprise from the Warner Archive -- a late career Errol Flynn swashbuckler with Flynn in fine form as Prince Edward of Wales.

It's 1359 and Prince Edward is made Duke of Aquitaine by his father, King Edward (Michael Hordern), and charged with defending the territory for England. It's not an easy task when there are French noblemen, led by the Comte De Ville (Peter Finch), in open revolt against England.

Prince Edward's job grows even more difficult when the lovely widow Lady Joan Holland (Joanne Dru) and her little brothers are imprisoned by De Ville. Prince Edward must find a way to rescue Lady Joan and then meet the French in a climactic battle for Aquitaine.

This was my second Errol Flynn film of the week, following the Western MONTANA (1950), and I enjoyed it quite well. I must have read about the film years ago, but anything I read then didn't make an impression -- in fact I discovered tonight that one '70s book in my library which reviewed the film negatively didn't even get the plot right! (A love triangle with Flynn, Dru, and Finch?!) I'm afraid like so many reviews in books of that era, the writer didn't have access to the film and was relying on memory or even rumors and reputation.

This Allied Artists film made in England was thus a pleasant discovery. There's nothing particularly unique about the film, but it's a solid entry in the medieval swashbuckler genre.

Flynn is compelling as the fearless Prince Edward, and his somewhat older appearance lends the role a certain gravitas. Edward and his father are weary of war and would like to live in peace, but if he must saddle up and go off to fight the French and rescue Lady Joan, then he won't hesitate.

Dru's role is relatively small, but she's lovely and appropriately feisty. There's also an eye-catching role for Yvonne Furneaux as a tavern wench who aids Edward.

The story and screenplay of this 85-minute film were by Daniel B. Ullman, who wrote a number of good Westerns in this era including WICHITA (1955), CANYON RIVER (1956), and THE OKLAHOMAN (1957).

THE WARRIORS was directed by Henry Levin and filmed in CinemaScope and Eastmancolor by Guy Green (ROB ROY: THE HIGHLAND ROGUE).

The supporting cast includes Patrick Holt and Rupert Davies. Be on the lookout for Patrick McGoohan as an English soldier and Christopher Lee battling on the French side.

Some fun trivia: Michael Hordern, who plays the king, was actually younger than his movie "son"! It seems as though Hordern played elderly men for decades.

This widescreen DVD is a bit dark and grainy in spots but otherwise looks good, and it's certainly wonderful having this relatively little-known Flynn film available on DVD. There are no extras.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered at the Warner Archive website.


Blogger john knight said...

Hi Laura,

I was glad to see this one suddenly appear from The Archive
as it's been one of the most requested on their Facebook
I think that your review has been very fair regarding
the film and I more or less agree with all the points that
you make.
All in all a "fun romp" and a film that I am very glad
to finally own.

5:55 AM  

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