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Monday, March 09, 2015

Ladd A Tarnished Knight For Columbia


The Black Knight (1954) Enters a 50's Costumer Contest

Watching this makes you appreciate how good the Errol Flynns were at WB, or ones done by Metro with R.Taylor/S. Granger. There was art to swordplaying, more elusive perhaps than with any other genre. But aesthetic rules did apply: to start with, the armor must fit. When it doesn't, as here with Alan Ladd all but swallowed up by his, the effect is ruinous. Ladd had no business with lance and shields, his a modern persona that might get by in westerns, but beware taking him further back. There's British cast in support, The Black Knight a Warwick Production done by Ladd to dodge US tax. Cheapness came of major bite from budget to pay the star; Knight beside competing Knights Of The Round Table (from MGM) must have been embarrassment for distributing Columbia. They'd feel pinch of gap between Black Knight rentals and money Metro took ... paltry $1.2 million domestic for the first to a whopping $4.5 from the second.


Chief heavy is Peter Cushing, young, eager, athletic; we'd actually prefer his besting a listless Ladd. There's also Andre Morrell as a helpful knight, completing a Hammer troupe before that company came to call. Action is lackluster, and that's surprising from director Tay Garnett. Did limited resource waylay his best effort? Ladd regretted the job before arrival at location; he'd already done two for Warwick and judged both as duds. What follow-ups to triumph of Shane --- and on arrival back home, he still got tax-crunched, according to Eric Hoyt's excellent research on Hollywood and The Income Tax, 1929-1955 that appeared in Film History, Volume 22, Number 1 (2010). Stars using Euro shoots as IRS dodge amounted to career gamble, as Ladd found to erosion of following that began with these misbegot Warwicks.

3 Comments:

Blogger MikeD said...

I watched 'Siege of the Saxons' recently and found the climactic battle seemed pretty familiar. Checked IMDB which stated that it was pinched from 'The Black Knight' and star Ronald Lewis, who starts the movie as a quasi Robin Hood, wore the same armor as Alan Ladd. I remember when I first watched 'the Black Knight' that I was pretty sure its scene with the pagans and Stonehedge was copped from another movie. What did you think?

8:20 AM  
Blogger John McElwee said...

Did not suspect stock footage in "The Black Knight," but that certainly doesn't mean it wasn't there.

Have not seen "Siege Of The Saxons," though it sounds interesting ...

8:26 AM  
Blogger Kevin K. said...

I like how Ladd's hair in that newspaper ad looks nothing it does in the movie.

Oh, and his costume looks absolutely silly.

2:48 PM  

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