24 February 2013 | LobotomousMonk
Like the Saracen Blade, Castle always just bounces back
Like other films in this era of Katzman-Castle production, The Saracen Blade puts an emphasis on tableau (symmetrical composition of mise-en-scene within the framing of a static camera positioned with frontality as the dominant). Castle outdoes himself this time as he adds a new element to his beleaguered stylistic system - suture! The shot-reverse-shot editing system is not only naively constructed and overt, but poorly employed with relation to the plot progression. As a result, there is a stagnant pace. I pity that a talented director such as William Castle found himself compulsively alternating between two stylistic systems for different films. The Saracen Blade is a 1954 release - and one of eight Castle films released that year! If the authorial voice seems mute perhaps it was a result of the man being overworked. The script doesn't help as the narrative is relayed with tweenish 'dear-diary' precision and crossing-guard intuition. If only this film wore a bright reflective 'X' it might become self-aware and develop a set of compensatory unique qualities. As it stands, the film hunches and then limps. Despite each sequence taken individually having the flavor of a bad porno, there is no passion infused into character relationships. All the characters seem sickeningly smug about the conflicts that befall them. But fear not, for Castle would soon break free from a bunk system of mechanical and mass reproduction in the guise of historical action-drama storytelling in order to forge the better parts of a stylistic system that he had been struggling to express for most of his career (When Stranger Marry had established most of the elements).