Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5
USA, 1948. Warner Bros.. Story by Herbert Dalmas, Screenplay by George Oppenheimer, Harry Kurnitz. Cinematography by Elwood Bredell. Produced by Jerry Wald. Music by Max Steiner. Production Design by Edward Carrere. Costume Design by Marjorie Best. Film Editing by Alan Crosland Jr..
Warner Bros. was looking to take advantage of Errol Flynn’s fame as the king of swashbucklers in the thirties and forties, little knowing the production problems that would plague this film. The project was conceived in 1939 (to capitalize on his success in films like Robin Hood and Captain Blood), restarted in 1945 and finally released in 1949. By the time of its release, unfortunately, Flynn’s wild ways were showing on his face, his usual co-star Olivia de Havilland was beyond playing the token girl in male fantasies, and the genre itself was past its prime.
Flynn plays the famous Spanish lover who breaks hearts all across Spain and England with just the mention of his name, sent back to his native country for punishment but, instead, put in charge of training the royal army. Once he realizes that the evil Duke de Lorca (Robert Douglas) is trying to wrest control of the throne from King Philip III (Romney Brent) and Queen Margaret (Viveca Lindfors), he makes it his mission to keep the country in the right hands. This has something to do with his sense of honour but much more to do with his adoration of the queen who, because she doesn’t lay down for him the minute she meets him, is his idea of perfection.
The sumptuous cinematography and gorgeous, Oscar-winning costumes should make it a delight to watch, but Lindfors is no de Havilland and the two have zero chemistry, while everything else just feels like a tired retread of better films (not to mention that footage from The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex is liberally reused).
Academy Award: Best Costume Design-Colour
Nomination: Best Art Direction-Colour