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 BlackKnight 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
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
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 misbegotWarwicks.