22 August 2003 | django-1
Lex Barker in above-average Italian swashbuckler
SON OF THE RED CORSAIR (the English language title of this film) was made in 1958 (but not shown in the US until 1963), so this film predates Lex Barker's ascension into German stardom via the Dr. Mabuse films and eventually the series of westerns based on Karl May novels. During the 58-61 period he made a number of costume historical dramas in Italy, most of which are worth watching if you can find them. This exciting entry casts Barker as a Spanish count who is the son of the Red Corsair, a legendary pirate. He is simultaneously avenging his father's death, looking for his long-lost sister, romancing a lovely Marquise, and fighting off various enemies. You name it, this film has it--swordfights, romance, mystery, music and dance, comedy sequences, etc. It all works well and moves quickly,and the film packs a lot into 80 minutes. Barker is tough yet charming, elegant yet earthy. And he manages to keep a straight face while wearing various powdered wigs and/or ponytails! The dubbing is acceptable by the standards of the day. Director Primo Zeglio directed many costume historical dramas in the 50s and early 60s--including Morgan the Pirate with Steve Reeves and Seven Seas to Calais with Rod Taylor as Sir Francis Drake (a film often shown on TCM in the USA). In the mid-60s he directed four westerns (two under psuedonyms), including the excellent Cursed Valley with Ty Hardin. He also directed the cult favorite sci-fi Perry Rhodan epic MISSION STARDUST starring Lang Jeffries (which, if you think about it, is just another kind of costume historical drama in a different time/setting!). Unfortunately, the SWV video of SON OF THE RED CORSAIR, the film reviewed here, is a pan-and-scan black and white TV print of a film shot and released in color and widescreen. The film will surely be an awesome experience on DVD someday... Until then, even this b&w version is entertaining enough to be worth your finding a copy if you are a Barker fan or a fan of Italian swashbucklers of the era. They don't make them like this anymore and there will never be another Lex Barker.