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  • I liked it only because I fancy swords and medieval armor. However, you're not going to learn anything factual nor fascinating about medieval combat here unlike in Robert Taylor's Ivanhoe or Knights of the Round Table.

    The character portrayed by Alan Ladd wears an abbreviated armor eschewing the greaves and other gear to protect the legs and arms. Save for the breastplate and chain mail (short sleeved at that!), there is little to suggest that he wears authentic knightly armor. Even his helmet covers only the top of his face (no doubt to display his handsome features.) Robocop is the same way. The reason for the light armor becomes apparent when Ladd performs acrobatics in combat unlikely to have been part of a knight's dueling or battle paces. Robert Wagner in Prince Valiant does similar things.

    The heroic Black Knight is actually a commoner and thus barred from bearing knightly arms and so has to keep his identity secret.

    The villains are a Saracen knight (Peter Cushing) allied with Cornishmen. Why the people of Cornwall who are as British as the English? Beats me.

    Cushing gives a luscious performance as a baddie. His quip after humiliating the blacksmith Alan Ladd before his lady love (Patricia Medina) is memorable. After failing to egg the meek Alan Ladd into fighting him, he turns to Patricia saying: "Please pardon this shameful exhibition."

    The photography and location shots are excellent.
  • Having your wife as your agent can carry some advantages I'm sure, but when Sue Carol Ladd made a deal with Warwick Pictures in the United Kingdom for her husband to star, she did not advance his career. In fact this last one, The Black Knight, might have sunk it.

    The biggest mistake Alan Ladd and his wife made was leaving Paramount before Shane was released to critical and popular success. Who knows what might have happened had he stayed and the Paramount publicity machine cranked up at Oscar time for him.

    The Black Knight was the third film of three that Ladd did for Warwick that were released by Columbia in America. The first one, The Red Beret was a World War II story and Ladd was a Canadian to explain his non-British accent. The second, Hell Below Zero, was a modern story set on a whaling ship and was not bad and he played an American.

    But Ladd had no business in The Black Knight, a tale set in the days of King Arthur. Peter Cushing as Sir Palimedes, a knight who's in the Mordred vein, is plotting with Patrick Troughton playing King Mark of Cornwall to overthrow Arthur and return the isle of Britain to the Druid religion.

    Ladd's a blacksmith, hopelessly in love with Lady Patricia Medina whose father he is in service to. Upward mobility isn't the rule in those days, but it can be done as Ladd's friend and mentor Andre Morrell says. Go into knight training and incidentally find out what's behind all these Viking raids were having.

    Poor Alan Ladd just doesn't have the requisite image for dueling. Twenty years earlier Tyrone Power, Errol Flynn, or Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. could have handled the role with ease. But Alan Ladd was never meant to be buckling swashes. Lines that sounded natural coming from Errol Flynn sound ridiculous from Ladd.

    Director Tay Garnett handles the battle sequences real nice and the rest of the British cast look like they know what they're doing.

    At least this was not the worst film Alan Ladd ever did. That was awaiting him in Duel of the Champions.
  • THE BLACK KNIGHT is a colourful British swashbuckler from 1954, starring the vertically challenged Alan Ladd who plays an impoverished blacksmith. Ladd comes into contact with some nasties involved with a Viking attack, learns swordplay and then becomes the helmeted Black Knight (a la Zorro), dishing out retribution to those responsible.

    On the face of it, this is entertaining enough, a fast-paced adventure packed with swordplay and battle sequences. I have to admit though that half of me was laughing as I watched. Ladd doesn't really make for a very convincing hero and is indeed doubled in all of his action scenes, like an olden-times Steven Seagal. He's given a ridiculously tall helmet to make up for his lack of stature but it just looks, well, ridiculous, plus he's too old and too out of shape to convince as the hero.

    The narrative, sadly, is complete nonsense. The heroes are supposed to be Saxons, fighting off a Viking invasion, which is fair enough. Except the various castles used in the film (none of which match architecturally) are all made of brick or stone, and only the Normans built stone castles some centuries after this film's setting. Plus they bring in the mythical King Arthur for no real reason, along with a ridiculous scene of human sacrifice at Stonehenge. What Celtic druids have to do with all this I don't know...

    Cast-wise, there are some familiar faces in support, including Harry Andrews as the put-upon Earl of Yeonil (a misspelling of Yeovil?). Peter Cushing is the villain, but fails to convince as a blacked-up Saracen, while a youthful Patrick Troughton also enjoys some screen time as the Cornish king. Watch out for Andre Morell, playing a hulking knight. THE BLACK NIGHT is far from a great film, having more in common with B-movie fare like SIEGE OF THE SAXONS than anything else, but it passes the time for fans of '50s cinema.
  • I'd only heard of The Black Knight through looking at a list of Peter Cushing's films before it was shown on Channel 4 one afternoon recently so I set the video and was pleased I did.

    It is an enjoyable adventure set in medieval times and as well as horror legend Peter Cushing (The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula), who has an excellent role as a baddy, it also stars Alan Ladd (Shane) who plays the title role of the movie very well. This movie also stars Harry Andrews and several people who I'm more use to seeing in sci-fi/horror movies: Dr Who actor Patrick Troughton, Andre Morell (The Giant Behemoth, Plague of the Zombies) and Laurence Naismith (The Valley of Gwangi, Village of the Damned). The love interest is played by Patricia Medina (The Beast of Hollow Mountain). All play the parts well.

    This was one of three British Movies Alan Ladd made in the 1950's. It is beautifully shot in colour, despite it being low budget.

    This movie is worth a look at if you get the chance, as it it rather hard to find. It don't seem to available on video or DVD anywhere, so you will have to rely on it coming on telly. A treat.

    Rating: 3 stars out of 5.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    (Possible Spoilers) As a fan of the eye-filling costume spectacle, I don't expect deep thoughts and careful characterization. I can even tolerate minor anachronisms. However, the story and the actions of the characters still need to make some sense, and that is where "The Black Knight" begins to fall apart.

    Several enormous castles are shown in this story, which implies a violent society requiring serious defenses. However, the castle of the hero's amour is invaded by Viking cavalry—horned helmets and all!—who ride in without significant resistance. There do not even appear to be any sentries watching for trouble; everyone is chowing down at the dinner table.

    The Vikings trash the place, and upon their retreat, the hero pursues their leader a few fields distant…to Camelot. In fact, all of the locations seem to be a horse-gallop away from each other, which is convenient, and easy on the horses.

    Returning to the ruined castle (thehero does a lot of to-ing and fro-ing along the same wooded trail. The horses must know the way.) the hero finds his former lord in a demented state, with only his daughter, the hero's would-be amour caring for him. The place is a smoldering pile of smoking debris; does the hero take the surviving pair to Camelot where they at least will have shelter and something to eat? NO!!! He leaves them there amid the ruins! What a guy! There are other lapses like this.

    There are some deeply strange scenes, most notably Stonehenge full of dancing pagans bringing Margaret Murray's theories to life. The hero—who in the course of a week or so learns all the fighting arts of a knight—disguised as The Black Knight, rescues his amour from pagan sacrifice. I must have dozed off, because she was wearing a wig as a would-be sacrifice, and I have no recollection why she was wearing the wig.

    King Arthur is miserably stupid in this movie, and there is no Guinevere. The Bad Guy is Sir Palomides, a Saracen knight who DID appear in some of the Arthur stories, but he wasn't in league with renegade Cornishmen or crazed Stonehenge pagans. Peter Cushing is fun to watch in this role.

    I love secret passages, and this movie has one roomy enough for the hero to run through! Following the passage, he eavesdrops on conspirators. Perhaps he is hard of hearing, because he doesn't just listen; he opens up a secret panel allowing nearly a full-length view of him with the Evildoers five feet away! The movie goes on and on and on—can someone tell me what a bunch of armed horsemen are going to do to attack a castle? And why the castle archers expose themselves to enemy fire? The painting of Camelot is a fantasy medieval castle on steroids. It is enormous, but we never see much of the interior. I would hate to have to pay the heating/air conditioning bills.

    The helmets of Arthur's knights are strange…possibly inspired by the helmets of the Teutonic Knights in "Alexander Nevsky." Just like Zorro, our hero sheds his Simple Blacksmith Clothes for the (unique) short-sleeved armor et alia of The Black Knight—more aptly The Big Black Bird Knight. He stashes his horse somewhere out of sight, too. Unlike Zorro, he does not have a plausible hidey hole for his changing room and horsekeeping headquarters. He just appears and rides for the next castle.

    Except for the crowns, which look like the paper crowns Burger King gives away, none of this looks cheap, but the writing and acting sink any chance this movie had. The Faux Old Timey English grates on the brain. Alan Ladd doesn't help.

    It is all exhausting, watching all the going back and forth between various castles and other hangouts. I think I would have found this one annoying when I was ten years old.
  • Awful but entertainingly so. To begin with, Alan Ladd was too old (or at least looked too old) to pull off the role of a dashing young knight. He was out of shape, pudgy, and his doughy face looks even worse when framed by his jousting helmet, which he wears in nearly every scene. He was not a physically graceful or athletic man, yet we have to see him running and leaping around endlessly, awkwardly. And as for that helmet, Ladd's and all the knights' helmets in the movie are apparently the result of a deranged costume designer out of control, with ridiculous appendages and raging birds, etc. No self-respecting knight would have appeared in one of those things, except maybe Sir Liberace.

    Then there's the issue of Stonehenge. In one scene, a group of knights and soldiers are shown completely demolishing the famous monument. Every stone is toppled. The main reason I kept watching this stinker to the end was out of curiosity about how they were going to explain how Stonehenge came down to us with most of its components still standing. Would some other, more responsible knights go back and restore it, or what? Amazingly, the film never shows or mentions it again!

    For a good knight movie from this period, give "The Black Knight" a pass and see "Ivanhoe", "Prince Valiant", or "The Court Jester" instead.
  • If you are looking for the epitome of "it's so awful, I cannot look away" movies, then this has got to be it! Everything is just dire, (except Peter Cushing as the baddie, (although he must have spent many an hour focusing on his coming fee rather than trying to think of his role - as a Saracen knight at the court of King Arhur (?????))). Alan Ladd's 'acting' is on a par with the 'plot', (if you can find it), and both are upstaged by the costumes, (especially the knights' or 'Vikings'' helmets, adorned with more horns, heraldic beasts and other appendages than a Victorian coat-stand). The real things not to miss, (in between either collapsing in hopeless fits of giggling or nodding off entirely, (and I could only watch my recording from the television in something like six (short) takes)), are the 'set pieces', especially the 'Virgin Sacrifice' scene at 'Stonehenge' - a good 25 years before Monty Python, but indescribably funnier than anything Cleese and his chaps could ever have thought up. Words can only go so far in describing a turkey of this magnitude, so if you are a fan of Mel Brooks-type spoofs and want a taste of something way beyond spoofing, set the VCR to record this one the next time it is on television, (as I cannot imagine any VHS or DVD distributor in their right mind ever putting this one up for sale), grab a bucket of popcorn, a box of tissues, (for when you collapse in laughter at frequent points), and go for it when you need a lift.
  • s_o_n_i_c7 October 2006
    What a movie. Ignore other users' comments. Pure ignorance. With catch phrases such as "find that bowman" "bah" and "I tripped" you would be insane not to be taken with this cinematic masterpiece. I was perched on the edge of my seat throughout the whole of this action packed thriller with such unexpected twists turning up at the least anticipated moments, this movie makes for a real success for any movie-genre fan. For those into action blockbusters like Schwartznegger or Al Pachino, this movie is a must see. I have placed several orders for this timeless classic on DVD, so that I can watch this perfect example of what a movie should be, any time I want.

    Highly recommended to all movie fans.
  • 1954's "The Black Knight" marked the coming out for Peter Cushing's screen career, his top villain Sir Palamides outshining Alan Ladd's miscast hero John, serving King Mark of Cornwall (Patrick Troughton) as they perform their pagan misdeeds disguised as Vikings in trying to overthrow King Arthur (Anthony Bushell) and Christianity. In just his second feature, Harry Andrews appears all too briefly as the Earl of Yeonil, but Andre Morell shines as Sir Ontzlake, who teaches John the skills he needs to win, but to wait until they can confirm the treachery of the sly Palamides (actors Bryan Forbes and Dennis O'Keefe are credited with 'additional dialogue'). Wearing earrings, hair carefully curled, bearing a faintly Arabian accent that makes each line a cherished treasure, the bearded Cushing is a menacing, awesome sight, his blue eyes accentuated by his dark skin, certainly a match for his idol Basil Rathbone in either "The Adventures of Robin Hood" or "The Mark of Zorro." For an actor who loved Westerns and derring do, this would remain a cherished role that Christopher Lee would get to play far more often. This was only the first of six times that Cushing would be paired with Andre Morell, most memorably as Holmes and Watson in 1958's "The Hound of the Baskervilles." Like Cushing a future Dr. Who, Patrick Troughton was so prolific on television that he rarely strayed from horror on screen, working again opposite his evil cohort in both "The Gorgon" and "Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell." Though best remembered as an actor (appearing with Boris Karloff in both "Five Star Final" and "The Ghoul"), Anthony Bushell later directed Christopher Lee in 1960's "The Terror of the Tongs" (previously appearing with Lee in 1957's "Bitter Victory").
  • Ah the swords and shields movie, a once thriving genre of film from yore where big bucks was thrown at the productions, and spectacle was unleashed. There were one or two exceptions, mind...

    Directed by Tay Garnett, produced by Irving Allen and Albert R. Broccoli and starring Alan Ladd, Peter Cushing and a whole host of British thespians lining up for some costume shenanigans. Story is a reworking of Arthurian England, with Ladd as a brave blacksmith who reinvents himself as the Black Knight to foil a dastard plan to overthrow King Arthur, and of course to impress the Lady Linet (Patricia Medina) who he has the major hots for. Sword play, fights, swinging about, jousts and Royal machinations do follow.

    In the context of its budget it's hardly the awful stinker some have lined up to proclaim it as. Oh it definitely has problems, not the least that Ladd is badly miscast and Medina just isn't good enough, but there's a great sense of fun about the whole thing. One only has to look at Cushing's performance as the villainous Sir Palamides, he's having a great old time of it prancing about in tights and smothered in so much make-up he looks like a Satsuma! If you can get into Cushing's mindset then there's fun to be had here, intentionally or otherwise!

    It's very colourful, costuming is impressive and with Garnett the wise old pro not wasting any chance for an action scene - or to encourage his male cast members into macho posturing - it's never dull. True, the editing is shoddy, the script (Alec Coppel) poor and some of the choreography is amateurish, but this is medieval malarkey 101. A film for the forgiving genre fan whose after a simple hour and half of robust swordery and chastity belt tamperings. 6/10
  • The legend of King Arthur has him first appearing in the year 412, Others have him magically working around the year 1204 A.D. Whenever; the additional time, the legend of Merlin had yet to become clear for the two. Indeed, such is the period problem for both men and that further allows script writers to use one or the other in movies, such as this one called " The Black Knight. " Regardless, the story of a King Arthur serves to place the story around the 12th century and that means whatever you've learned about King Arthur is probably confusing enough, so the less said the better. Here in with all it's inaccuracies is the tale of a young man, who works as a Blacksmith, though throughout the movie he is seen doing very little in that trade. However, Alan Ladd plays John a lowly smith making swords and in love with Linet (Patricia Medina) a Nobel man's daughter when he learns of treachery in the royal court. The heavy is interestingly enough the late great Peter Cushing, who's ambition is to kill the king, usurp the throne and take over England. The thought behind the film is exciting enough, but don't expect Ladd to be as swashbuckling as Errol Flynn or Tyrone Power. He is alright, but lacks masterly resolve and despite his ornate helmet, does little to improve his stature. The movie is theater quality and one could be entertained readily enough, But don't expect too much, so enjoy the movie, after all, that what counts. ****.
  • I do not think The Black Knight is a terrible film. Mediocre yes, terrible no. It does have its problems I agree, the script is clunky and lacking in wit apart from Cushing's amusing and memorable "please pardon this shameful exhibition" and also suffers from excessive cheesiness, the story is on the misconceived side, the pace sags in the middle I feel and I didn't think much of Alan Ladd who I found too old and perhaps a little unkempt too. However, the costumes and location work are absolutely splendid, John Addsion's score is likable enough, the action is witty and energetic, the direction is passable, and Peter Cushing and Harry Andrews are a joy to behold. All in all, I wasn't wowed over but I did find it watchable thanks to the production values and the supporting cast. 5/10 Bethany Cox
  • I 1st saw this movie when I was a kid when it came on TV. I also saw it's contemporary "The Black Shield of Falworth" around the same time, and enjoyed them both. Both take some liberties with history I'm sure but they do something more important than being completely historically accurate. They entertain the viewer. It's the classic tale of the underdog who has to fight against the odds in order to have a chance of achieving what he wants set against the backdrop of the middle ages. The colors and pageantry of the film and it's musical score add to the excitement of watching to see if the hero will triumph or not. Some will claim that Alan Ladd was too short or too old for the part or some such, and I grant he's not a big action hero type like Errol Flynn for example but I think those facts add to rather than take away from his portrayal of the hero. His character of John the Blacksmith is the "everyman" who may not be the likely winner but is willing to fight for what he wants against a world that doesn't say yes easily.
  • In my opinion, the finest cinematic renditions of the Arthurian legends have all been revisionist in nature – Robert Bresson’s ascetic LANCELOT DU LAC (1974), the uproarious MONTY PYTHON AND THE HOLY GRAIL (1974) and John Boorman’s visceral Excalibur (1981) – but, for an entire generation of youngsters during the 1950s and 1960s (that to which my father belongs to be exact), the idealized, heroic Hollywood version of Camelot, its sovereign and inhabitants was the only one there was. In fact, they were spoilt for choice when it comes to depictions of pageantry in those days with Mel Ferrer, Brian Aherne (twice) and Richard Harris being among those who assuming on film the role of King Arthur.

    In this modest, fairly routine but equally enjoyable British production, it is Anthony Bushell who gets to play the ruler of Camelot but the actor’s relative anonymity implies (correctly as it turns out) that his role in the narrative is merely a peripheral one. In fact, the leading man here is diminutive Hollywood star Alan Ladd: curiously cast as a taciturn English blacksmith with ideas above his station (generally directed towards aristocratic Patricia Medina), he is wrongly accused of both treason (by duplicitous Saracen knight Peter Cushing) and of cowardice (by Medina herself, after a Viking attack on her castle leaves her mother dead and father, played by Harry Andrews, half-crazed with grief)! However, with the help of a prescient knight (Andre' Morell) and after adopting the titular disguise, our commoner hero saves the day by routing the villains (who also include a dastardly Scottish royal – portrayed by yet another future Hammer horror stalwart Patrick Troughton, as well as Cushing’s laughing, would-be deaf-mute giant stooge), earning himself an official knighthood and, it goes without saying, Medina’s hand in marriage. Incidentally, the tale is set off by a ballad sung in a brief prologue by a minstrel (Elton Hayes) approaching a castle but, unexpectedly enough, rather than featuring in the upcoming narrative (as a singing squire or something), he quickly vanishes never to be seen or heard from again!

    Apart from the film’s unsurprising reliance on cliché, it also contains elements of camp (particularly a Pagan rite being performed at Stonehenge and the cumbersome insignias worn on their helmets by the various knights) and leads up to a curiously clumsy climax (with an ostensibly unnoticed Ladd conspicuously overhearing the scheming Troughton and Cushing from a secret passage leading right behind the former’s throne; Ladd seemingly taken aback by the aforementioned giant falling to his death in spite of himself from the castle rooftop, not to mention Cushing apparently tripping in his own armor when turning up for the final showdown with the hero)! Actually, this only increases the film’s fun factor and, over fifty years later, one can still understand how this stuff was eagerly lapped up by thrill-seeking schoolboys during their weekly matinees. Incidentally, given Cushing’s reputation as a horror star, it may come as a surprise to some that he appeared in numerous costumers over the years – including THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (1939), Alexander THE GREAT (1956), JOHN PAUL JONES (1959), SWORD OF SHERWOOD FOREST (1960), THE HELLFIRE CLUB (1961), FURY AT SMUGGLER’S BAY (1961), CAPTAIN CLEGG (1963) and SWORD OF THE VALIANT (1984)!

    For what it’s worth, the screenplay involves some notable names – Alec Coppel, future director Bryan Forbes and film noir star Dennis O’Keefe(!) – and its plot of King Arthur vs. The Vikings would come in handy once more that same year in the equally inauthentic but even more popular PRINCE VALIANT. Other distinguished crew members include composer John Addison, cinematographer John Wilcox, art director Vetchinsky and producers Irving Allen and Albert R. Broccoli(!) – this was actually the latter’s third and last picture with Ladd following THE RED BERET (1953) and HELL BELOW ZERO (1954). By the way, THE BLACK KNIGHT itself eventually got remade by Nathan Juran as SIEGE OF THE SAXONS (1963)!
  • Someone actually said this, in an outburst of sophomoric exuberance during the Trial By Movie called "The Black Knight". This picture is shot through with banal dialogue and is typical of what you can purchase on the cheap in Hollywood. The alternative is to hire a screenwriter.

    It is a comic book movie about coming of age to win a fair lady's heart, but suppose you are pretty old to start with? Alan Ladd, who was so handsome and vital in "Shane", looks lined and puffy here as a blacksmith trying to woo Patricia Medina, who is above his station. But he is undeterred, and sets out to 'prove himself'. The movie is riddled with two-dimensional characters and situations full of contrivances, and if you are older than 14 this picture is probably not for you.

    The star rating is in the heading. The website no longer prints mine.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I saw most of Alan Ladd's 1950's movies in a theatre (or drive-in) as a kid and most of his 1940's movies were being shown on TV by that time. I thought he was the handsomest man I had ever seen in my life. Just caught this one on TCM -- didn't plan to watch, but couldn't stop because it was so very awful in so many ways as many other reviewers have explained. I agree, Ladd looks rough in this one (boozing)? He didn't look as bad in many of the other movies made around this time.

    He was totally miscast here -- like John Wayne as Ghengis Khan in The Conqueror --- and I thought he knew it and looked embarrassed to be there. It was so obvious that all the action was stuntmen, especially when his mentor was teaching him swordsmanship. The other actor had his faceplate up exposing his face (I assume because he could handle a sword) while the stuntman playing Ladd's part had his faceplate down.

    I was surprised at the end to realize it had been made in England. It looked very "Hollywoodized" -- really over the top costumes and historically inaccurate. I guess I thought the Brits usually do a much better job at being historically accurate.

    Nonetheless, I would have loved this movie when it first came out in 1954 and I was 7 years old. I has no gore -- I only remember seeing blood when the heroine slashed the bare arm of her attacker -- very tame by today's standards. A fun family movie if you have young children.
  • This film is absolutely brilliant, especially the part where the blacksmiths apprentice jumps in the barrel, I think there has only ever been one actor who could pull this off to such a high standard (Thomas Moore), you could almost be in Camelot. Thomas Moore is definitely the star of this film, although Allan Ladd is a good supporting actor and Thomas uses him well as a foil in the scenes they share together. I would also say that Thomas is particularly good at shifting from foot to foot in an 'Uncle Albert' fashion and the way he uses this to add emphasis to the fact that the castle is under siege is a joy to behold, it is a wonder he was never nominated for an Oscar. Well done Dad, Laurence Olivier eat your heart out.
  • OK this is supposed to be a kiddie matinée flick but its appallingly bad, even for medieval sword movies. Apart from the obvious anachronisms which one can probably accept in a fantasy (a saracen at king arthur's court and a viking/druid/saracen alliance) we have two things that lift it to the very highest of bad movie standards: (a) an awful lot of the action scenes appear to be stock footage from another film, possibly a Spanish one given that the backgrounds don't look like England at all. It looks as if the plot was fitted around this hence the whole druid sacrifice scene which makes no sense at all in the film's context. All of the shoddy action staging commented upon by other reviewers seems to result from trying to fit new footage to this stock footage. As a result, much of the action makes no sense at all and there are continuity errors galore. The brunette Medina gets fitted with a blonde wig in her druid sacrifice scene so that she'll match with the long shots of the stock footage (obviously a male stunt man in drag)!! (b) Alan Ladd's performance is simply abysmal. He can't act at all and for many scenes he is obviously doubled and you see his double's face several times. Ladd can't even convincingly cut a presence here and just looks awkward - the pint sized star just doesn't have the physical presence that the likes of Errols Flynn (or even Tony Curtis) could give to a role like this.
  • The Black Knight 1954 staring Alan Ladd is a perfect movie for young boys and girls who are interested in Knights and castles. This movie is not filled with kissing and lewd scenes as most of todays movies are. The Black Knight has lots of riding, jousting, sword fighting and castles. Today's youth do not know of Alan Ladd, his hair or height are not important to them. In this movie he looks like a knight of old may well have looked like. Who cares if he doesn't sound British? Young children building block castles and playing dress up care not for language accents, they just want to see a 'Knight of Old' action movie. So many other medieval type movies have too much sex, talking and political intrigue to interest children. To see a sword being made, rivers crossed and non-tournament jousting is like a slice of medieval life. If I could find this movie I would buy it for my grandchildren. This movie should be released with the youth market in mind and Alan Ladd would have a new generation of fans.
  • I agree with other posters that Black Knight would prove generally harmless and generically virtuous for home-schooled kids and their retro ilk. For grown-ups who were children in the era when the film was made, Black Knight offers a range of minor pleasures. The most universally appealing quality may be the color processing and the castles' airy-pastel set design (best when John visits his future father-in-law at the latter's castle, sacked by Vikings). Plus the cathedral and banquets bankrolled by Arthur show a surprising lavishness in production values.

    Beyond those visuals, most of the film's aesthetics are campy or eery. Alan Ladd gets my benefit of the doubt as a haunting screen presence, but as other posters comment, his casting as a swashbuckler exposes his limits. His stunt-double seems to have more screen time than Ladd himself--much of the time the Black Knight fights with his visor down.

    An over-the-top bonus reason to see the film is the Stonehenge scene. Set right after the all-boy cathedral scene, this 50s romp begs for an analyst's couch. Nubile babes in lingerie writhe around phallic stones while horned Vikes look complacently on. Let's sacrifice the brunette heroine Livey to Stonehenge's sun god! But said god insists that sacrificial chicks must be blonde, so an on-site witch pulls a wig from a skull at Stonehenge's gift shop. Uh, what might our sun god think of this deception. As a finale to this hectic scene, Stonehenge is pulled to the ground, raising questions how it came down to us upright, but the film's quickly over after that.

    The eery element is Cushing's Palimedes as a medieval Osama bin Laden. Those salaams he performs at every leave-taking are a reminder even George W. Bush might cop to: this evildoer sure does act like a Muslim! Just goes to show how history--from the actual Middle Ages to our Hollywood adaptations--conditions such images and our reactions.
  • This film is just plain godawful and most amusement value comes directly from the clash of the bad script with the even worse direction and acting. That and speculating what concatenation of groovy drugs produced this horrorshow. I'm sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that Alan Ladd couldn't act. But since he was there to look heroic, I suppose that doesn't matter much. As it is, I had a good laugh at the way his blond mop never seemed to move, even at the most strenuous gallop on a horse or the most violent sword fight. The only part of his body less mobile than his hair was his face.

    But my favourite part, just for sheer awfulness, is the sacrificial maiden sequence set at a foam-and-clapboard version of Stonehenge. While a bunch of solemn, talentless starlets sway in a ceremonial dance, drunken Vikings lounge under the standing stones, sniggering into their mead. I kid thee not. I could see either the maidens or the Vikings as background to the main action, but both? What the heck was the director thinking?!

    Unfortunately, the rest of the flick is very dull. This little trainwreck-that-couldn't just goes to prove that the Brit film industry of the 50s was as capable of producing bad, frothy, costume tosh as Hollywood.
  • whpratt116 August 2007
    It is quite obvious when you see this film that Alan Ladd had dark demon's he was facing in real life, his fight with alcohol which was showing in his face, even though he was getting older and his career was starting to diminish in Hollywood.

    Alan Ladd plays the role of John, a blacksmith who makes excellent swords and also becomes the Black Knight who fights against threats against King Arthur and his Court. John is in love with Linet, (Patricia Medina) who is the daughter of the Earl of Yeonil, (Peter Cushing), but is impossible for her to marry a Commoner and so John learns the skills of a knight and seeks to become a Knight in King Arthur Court. There is plenty of swords flashing all around and lots of arrows flying through the air. This is an entertaining 1954 film but rather disappointing.
  • This may be Alan Ladd's worst film, I have not seen them all, heck, I was named after the guy and he starred in at least two great films and supported others, so you can't call me biased against him. Of course, one could argue that it was just bad casting as his "type" did not match the film, but the film is so terrible on so many levels that it is almost as if it was done for a purpose other than making a film, just thrown together in haste, perhaps to fulfill a contractual obligation but done so in order to perhaps kill a contractual relationship. Obviously money was put into the film, not "Hollywood" money, but where a decent film might have been made with normal across the board talent. Incredibly amateurish, and one wonders the dynamics involved with Tay Garnett, who had done much better in the past. There is no redeeming quality to this bizarrely bad film. It does have some so-bad it can't be serious funny moments, perhaps these moments are "statements" of protest or perhaps deliberate attempts to make this film as badly as possible, perhaps a real inspiration for "The Producers". The film is so badly done on ALL levels which makes it hard to criticize the parts. I've seen low-budget British films that scrimp on props and special effects to the point of absurdity and feature little talented supporting acting, but still deliver fine lead acting performances and scripts that overcome the obvious deficiencies. In this case, it would have taken a masterful over the top enthusiastic lead to overcome the so many flaws in the film (even with the at least three supporting actors in the film with talent), but Alan Ladd's performance wasn't even "dialed in". He apparently just did the"minimum" he was directed to do (or maybe he was ill), or perhaps just horrible casting. Peter Cushing at least tried to be the nefarious bad guy despite the total ridiculousness of his role. I try to find good in films, but it just isn't here. This is not a film that deserves preservation.
  • dalegore12 August 2007
    Arthur, if he ruled at all was about 475 AD. Saracens (Muslims), came after Muhommed (7th century AD). The armor and heraldry was of the high medieval period (10th - 12th centuries AD). The timing is all jacked up. Were people so stupid in the fifties to fall for anything, or is this just a case of reckless writers throwing ideas together over 500 years of history? This would be equal to a movie in which Christopher Columbus mans a PBR in Vietnam, and fights the Confederate navy. Saaad. So, if you have nothing else to do, like watching your toenails grow, or seeing if you can stare at the minute hand until you actually see it move, then by all means watch this movie. The only thing that could make it better, would be if it were a silent picture, and speed up the film speed by 10 percent.
  • Wish it was on video. I really enjoyed this movie. Alan Ladd was one of my favorites. This kind of action sword fighting action flick was good for the time it was made. I only saw it once but feel it was worth remembering and seeing again. Hope that it will come to video someday.
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