The Iron Swordsman (1949)

  |  Drama


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10 December 2003 | copycat1025
Powerful tale from director Riccardo Freda.
This is one of Riccardo Freda's most powerful films, and yet it remains largely unknown outside of Italy. Having never read Dante, I can't say whether this is a faithful rendering of the Count Ugolino story. However, I will say that this film is an excellent example of how Freda excels at the gradual building of suspense. The atmosphere throughout this film is thick and menacing, and the ending grim and pessimistic. It was probably this reason that caused the film to receive negative reviews in Italy. Gianna Maria Canale plays her role well, but the main characters, Carlo Ninchi and Peter Trent, steal the screen. Trent is perfect in his role as the villainous archbishop, who betrays the hapless Ugolino (Ninchi) after professing to be his friend. Ninchi is clearly taken aback by the treachery, and displays his acting talents with natural ability. In this film, Freda does not pay as much attention to visual effects as he does in his other films. The concentration here is on story and dialog. But there are some scenes in which Freda plays out his artistic sense. From the lavishly furnished chambers, to the thrilling outdoor photography, Freda makes careful use of light and shade effects, to create a film that is highly professional from a visual standpoint. Altogether, a very nice film, which may be watched more than once.

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