The Dark Avenger

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The Dark Avenger
The Dark Avenger - Poster.jpg
1955 British Theatrical Poster
Directed by Henry Levin
Produced by Walter Mirisch
Written by Daniel B. Ullman
Phil Park (uncredited)
Based on story by Daniel B. Ullman
Starring Errol Flynn
Joanne Dru
Peter Finch
Yvonne Furneaux
Music by Cedric Thrope Davie
Cinematography Guy Green
Edited by Edward B. Jarvis
Production
company
Distributed by Allied Artists Picture Corp
20th Century Fox
Release dates
Mid-April 1955 (1955-04) (England)[1]
9 September 1955 (US)[2]
Running time
General release:
85 min.
Language English
Box office 890,587 admissions (France)[3]
United States "The Warrirors" film poster

The Dark Avenger is a 1955 English Adventure film directed by Henry Levin. The screenplay was written by Daniel B. Ullman (and an uncredited Phil Park[1]). The film stars Errol Flynn, Joanne Dru and Peter Finch. The music score is by Cedric Thorpe Davie. It is also known as The Warriors in the United States,[4] and had a working title of The Black Prince in the United Kingdom.[1]

The Dark Avenger follows the adventures of Edward the Black Prince, son of King Edward III and heir to the throne of England, as he tries to liberate the people of Aquitaine from the cruel grasp of France.

The film was the last historical action film Errol Flynn would ever make.[1]

Plot[edit]

Edward, Prince of Wales, son and heir to his father King Edward III of England, leads an English army to the French province of Aquitaine to protect the inhabitant from the ravages of the French. After defeating the French in battle, the defeated French plot to kill the prince. Failing in this, they kidnap his lady, the lovely Lady Joan Holland. Of course Prince Edward has to ride to the rescue, adopting numerous guises to save his paramour, which ultimately end in him leading his men into one final climactic battle against the French.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

The film was originally known as The Black Prince.

It was the prestige production for Allied Artists in 1953-54, a co-production with Associated British Pictures, to be filmed in England, shot in CinemaScope and Technicolor.[5][6] It was personally produced by Walter Mirisch, who was production head of Allied Artists at the time.[7] Mirisch had developed the project with Dan Ullman.

The use of CinemaScope saw 20th Century Fox became involved as partners in production and distribution on the movie, as part of an arrangement between it and Allied Artists. (It was a two-picture arrangement, the other film being The Adventures of Haji Baba). Allied Artists took Western Distribution Rights, Fox took Eastern.[8] This enabled the studios to share costs, and for Allied to take advantage of Fox's superior distribution system in foreign countries when it came to handling CinemaScope films. It also enabled them to afford Errol Flynn in the lead role.[9]

Joanne Dru was also imported to play the female lead; Peter Finch was cast as the main villain. Henry Levin was chosen to direct on the basis of several swashbuckling movies he had made for 20th Century Fox and Columbia.[10] The film was reported to be the biggest undertaking in Allied Artists history.[11]

Filming started on 2 August 1954.[12] It mainly took place at Elstree Studios, using a castle constructed by MGM for Ivanhoe (1952).[13]

Flynn made the film shortly after his proposed movie of William Tell had fallen over and was in bad need of funds.[14] Walter Mirisch wrote in his memoirs that Flynn shaved off his moustache in preproduction to make him look younger; Mirish did not agree and arranged for the script to include Flynn growing his moustache back. The producer said that Flynn's drinking frequently held up the production, with the actor occasionally drinking during takes and being unable to remember his lines.

"He also did not look well in the picture," wrote Mirisch. "His face was puffy and he was clearly too old for the role, but I hoped careful photography might offset that. It didn't. Before we started to shoot, I asked him to diet and hopefully lose some weight, which he didn't do. There were only traces left of the face, physique and charm that he had brought to The Adventures of Robin Hood, Captain Blood, The Sea Hawk and all those other great adventure films of his youth."[15]

Reception[edit]

According to The New York Times, the film is "corn...every step of the way. But this Allied Artists presentation ... holds three assets that render it at least palatable. Number one, photographed (by Guy Green) in color at England's Elstree Studios, with a spanking array of period castles and costumes cluttering the lovely countryside, it all looks quite fetching. Number two, it moves. Finally—perhaps as a consequence—the familiar, history-laden plot unwinds with a surprising lack of pretentiousness for this type of film. Peeled of its vintage trappings, however, the picture would play—indeed, does—like the mouldiest kind of Western, the one about the noble cowboy who routs the greedy land barons (French), saving the land for the settlers and papa (His Majesty, King Edward I)."[4]

The Los Angeles Times called it "an inferior but colorful swashbuckler."[16]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Notes". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  2. ^ Of Local Origin New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 09 Sep 1955: 19.
  3. ^ 1956 French Box office figures at Box Office Story
  4. ^ a b "Screen: The Warriors; Erroll Flynn Tireless in Palace Drama". The New York Times. September 10, 1955. Retrieved 2012-06-20. 
  5. ^ 20 FULL-LENGTH FILMS SET BY ALLIED ARTISTS Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 July 1953: A3.
  6. ^ 36 FILMS PLANNED BY ALLIED ARTISTS: Studio Announces Ambitious Program With Both 3-D and Standard Movies Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 17 July 1953: 13.
  7. ^ 16 WARNER MOVIES ON BIG-SCREEN LIST: ' A Star Is Born' and 'The High and the Mighty' Included in CinemaScope Schedule By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 18 Nov 1953: 41.
  8. ^ Drama: Frank Lloyd Readying 'Texian;' Dana Andrews Gets 'Builder-Upper' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Apr 1954: A13.
  9. ^ FOX JOINS ALLIED TO MAKE 2 FILMS: Companies Will Produce and Distribute Pictures -- Use of CinemaScope Planned By THOMAS M. PRYORSpecial to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 15 Apr 1954: 35.
  10. ^ Walter Mirisch, I Thought We Were Making Movies Not History, Univ of Wisconsin Press, 2008 p 56-58 accessed 4 March 2015
  11. ^ 3 STARS ASSIGNED TO 'BLACK PRINCE': Errol Flynn, Peter Finch and Joanne Dru Will Make Film in England for Allied Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 23 July 1954: 9.
  12. ^ Allied Artists Plans Program of 15 Movies Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 02 July 1954: B6.
  13. ^ Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer & Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 204
  14. ^ Stellar Trio for 'Prince'; Green Signs Selected Johnny New Pact, Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 23 July 1954: B7.
  15. ^ Mirisch p 57
  16. ^ James Dean Sympathetic 'Rebel Without a Cause' Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 10 Nov 1955: B12.

External links[edit]