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  • Saw this in 1963 at our local fleapit. Which specialised in featuring Italian "cheapo" epics, usually starring Steve Reeves or Gordon Scott. This simply featured a load of foreigners and was, as usual, dubbed into English but was filmed in striking colour. At the age of 11 I was unfamiliar with the Dumas "Iron Mask" story, so this was new to me and I thought it a great adventure yarn, even though it covered the familiar kids' TV territory of a baddie trying to cheat the rightful heir out of his inheritance, with local bandits coming to the rescue. However, I was unnerved by the actual iron mask into which our hero's head was jammed. It looked grotesque and its designer casually commented on the fact that the prisoner's beard would eventually suffocate him. I had nightmares for weeks! Later, the prisoner is forced to stand in the hot sun which causes the mask to heat up, tormenting him further. And all the time the tight fit of the mask prevents him from uttering anything but unintelligible yelps. Also, in one scene, an innkeeper's pretty daughter has her face slashed by a rapier-wielding henchman of the wicked Duke. Pretty strong stuff for a universal certificate at the time! My misgivings about the mask caused me to feel a teensy bit sorry for the villain when, inevitably at the end of the film, his aristocratic head is forced into the hideous device. Love to see it again though.
  • Fanciful variation on one of the most famous secrets of French history. The action takes place in 1703 (that's what we are told when the film begins) and Colbert (God preserve him) wants to buy the duchy of Pignerol ,unbeknowst to the old Duke .A sadistic villain ,a count,is slowly poisoning the lord and covets her daughter and is looking forward to raking it.

    Did the screenwriters open a history book?It's dubious:they would have learned that Colbert died in 1683(!),so he was not able to write a letter in 1703! Most of the historians do not think the famous prisoner was wearing an iron mask ;he was imprisoned for more than thirty years and with such a thing,he would have died of blood poisoning ;he probably would wear a (velvet) mask during his transfers and sometimes during the day.

    Alexandre Dumas made him the Sun King's twin brother .That was also Voltaire's opinion.

    Forget history ;the iron mask is here the duke's son ,and the title is thoroughly justified by the rather smart ending.As for the rest ,it's a cross between Robin Hood (André and his men ,complete with priest ;the villain who oppresses the poor ) and Dumas 's "La Tulipe Noire" (the unfortunate prisoner and the hangman's daughter who takes pity on him).There's the obligatory comic relief -here represented by a so called Bavarian, the interrupted wedding,and all the available clichés of the swashbuckler.But the cinematography is impeccable,the movie is not unpleasant ,the kind of stuff you forget just after watching it