With Yet Another …
… iteration of “The Three Musketeers” set to hit the big screen (my favorite is still the 1948 version starring Gene Kelly), The Guardian’s Anne Billson explains why there’s still nothing more thrilling than a good sword fight on screen — preferably one without jump-cut special effects.
Personally, I blame “The Matrix” for making action scenes intolerable. A little bit of that slo-mo, look-at-me I’m bending out of the way stuff goes a long way.
Here’s the nut graf:
“The best duels are like games of chess with extra sadism – why dispatch opponents quickly when you can humiliate them with your footwork, or inflict death by a thousand cuts? Duelling can be a substitute for sex – and not just the seductive fence-off between Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones in The Mask of Zorro; check out Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone, smiling at each other during their duel on the beach in Captain Blood. It’s enough to make you sorry for Olivia de Havilland.
No one cries “Ha haa!” during a sword-fight quite like Rathbone, reportedly the best fencer in Hollywood, though owing to story demands, he won only one of his on-screen duels. But he provided brilliant opposition for Flynn (The Adventures of Robin Hood), Tyrone Power (The Mark of Zorro) and Danny Kaye (The Court Jester). The other man all these fights had in common was fencing master Fred Cavens, also responsible for the seven-minute thriller in Scaramouche in which Stewart Granger (wearing slightly distracting stripy tights) and Mel Ferrer swipe at each other all over a theatre.”
Read the full story here.
What’s your vote for best sword fight movie?
“The Mark of Zorro,” with Tyrone Power is right up there for me. Though I have to admit, Errol Flynn as either Robin Hood or Captain Blood was pretty flipping impressive. And don’t even get me started on “The Seven Samurai,” or any of the Kurosawa films.
Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
Here’s a duel scene from Richard Lester’s version of “The Three Musketeers” with Michael York and Christopher Lee.