21 December 2008 | Bunuel1976
THE BLACK TULIP (Christian-Jaque, 1964) **1/2
A lesser-known literary creation of Alexandre Dumas Snr. was this Zorro-type masked avenger at the time of the French Revolution who, unlike the contemporaneous The Scarlet Pimpernel, was on the side of the Revolutionaries despite being truly an aristocrat himself! I've never read the source novel myself but, in any case, I'm familiar with the character via a fondly-remembered Japanese animated series that I used to watch on Italian TV as a kid (where the titular hero was actually a girl!). Having said that, it seems that much of the narrative has also been changed for this handsomely-mounted, energetic but disappointingly bland cinematic adaptation.
Alain Delon who, ironically, would go on to portray Zorro himself in an equally medium-grade Italian production in 1975 plays a dual role here as the jaded aristocrat who dons the black costume and as his naïve, younger brother who is forced to keep up the ruse when the latter is facially scarred during a swordfight with his nemesis (Adolfo Marsillach). No self-respecting swashbuckling hero goes by without a gushing female pining for him and, appropriately enough, we get two here in Virna Lisi and Dawn Addams one for each Delon persona! The fomer ditches her own imminent marriage when she meets cute with the shier Delon and the latter gets it on with the older Delon practically in front of her ageing aristocrat husband, Akim Tamiroff.