The Black Knight (film)
|The Black Knight|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Tay Garnett|
|Produced by||Irving Allen
Albert R. Broccoli
|Written by||Alec Coppel
Bryan Forbes (uncredited)
|Music by||John Addison|
|Edited by||Gordon Pilkington|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|28 October 1954|
|Box office||$1.3 million (US rentals)|
The Black Knight is a 1954 film starring Alan Ladd as the title character and Peter Cushing and Patrick Troughton as two conspirators attempting to overthrow King Arthur. It is the last of Ladd's trilogy with Warwick Films, the others being The Red Beret and Hell Below Zero based on Hammond Innes' book The White South.
John (Alan Ladd), a blacksmith and swordsmith, is tutored at Camelot. As a commoner, he can't hope to win the hand of Lady Linet (Patricia Medina), daughter of the Earl of Yeoniland (Harry Andrews), so he creates a secret alternative identity as the Black Knight. In this new role, he is now able to help King Arthur when Saracens and Cornishmen—disguised as Vikings—plot to take over the country. However, his thoughts are not only on the protection of England when the good Lady Linet becomes threatened. When conspirators within Camelot plan to use the "Vikings" to overthrow King Arthur, the Black Knight is branded a traitor.
- Alan Ladd as John
- Patricia Medina as Linet
- André Morell as Sir Ontzlake
- Harry Andrews as the Earl Of Yeonil
- Peter Cushing as Sir Palamides
- Patrick Troughton as King Mark
- Anthony Bushell as King Arthur
- Bill Brandon as Bernard
- Ronald Adam as the Abbott
- Jean Lodge as Queen Guinevere
- John Laurie as John
- Elton Hayes as the Minstrel
- Laurence Naismith as Major Domo
Shooting took place at Pinewood Studios. Half-way through production, Bryan Forbes was called in to do some rewriting of the script (he is credited as "additional dialogue by..."). According to Forbes's memoirs, Alan Ladd's wife, Sue, had script approval and objected to a scene where her husband's character stole a horse. 'During a script conference she repeated "Alan Ladd does not steal a horse, period. I'm telling you. He steals a horse, we lose the Boy Scouts Association and the Daughters of the American Revolution, to say nothing of his fan club." Irving [Allen], the senior producer was equal to the occasion and replied "He's not stealing a horse, Sue, he's borrowing a horse. You know like a Hertz car." "So, show me the difference" said Mrs Ladd, "You keep the stolen horse in and you start looking for another star because we're gonna be on the next plane home." "How would it be" I said, "if we kept all the action up to the point where Mr Ladd disposes single-handedly of the attacking Vikings, then he runs to a sentry and says "Is that the horse I ordered?" The sentry nods in agreement and Mr Ladd jumps on the horse and rides over the drawbridge?" "Yeah, I'll buy that" said Mrs Ladd and that is what we shot.' She also instructed Forbes when writing dialogue for Ladd to "keep him monosyllabic".
Donald Sinden, then a contract star for the Rank Organisation at Pinewood Studios, had a permanent dressing room in the same block as Ladd's. He said "(Ladd) brought in his entourage a double-cum-stunt man who bore an uncanny resemblance to him. The double did all the long shots, most of the medium shots and even appeared in two-shots when the hero had his back to the camera. The 'star' only did eleven days work in the entire film. He was extremely short in stature and unless he was alone, the camera could never show his feet, because if he was stationary he was standing on a box; if walking, the other actors were in specially dug troughs or ditches and for anything between, all other actors were required to stand with their legs apart and their knees bent."
One critic thought Ladd badly miscast, "playing the part like a tired American businessman prevailed upon to take the lead in a revival of Merrie England". By contrast Andrews and Bushell "played their parts for all and more than they were worth, giving every one of the pseudo-archaic line (e.g., 'Away with him, his presence doth offend our sense of honour') the full treatment: resonant Shakespearean delivery and Lyceum flourishes".
A lot of footage from this film was re-used in the low-budget, 1963 matinée film Siege of the Saxons, which is also set in Arthurian times. Even the outrageous signature armour of the Black Knight reappears for continuity's sake.
- 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, 25 January 1956
- "The Black Knight (1954)". Rotten tomatoes. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
- "The Black Knight (1954)". The New York Times.
- "These Are the Facts", Kinematograph Weekly, 31 May 1956 p 14
- Bryan Forbes, A Divided Life, Mandarin, 1993 p3-4
- A Touch Of The Memoirs Donald Sinden. Hodder & Stoughton 1982. page 238
- Richards, Heffrey (1977). Swordsmen of the Screen: From Douglas Fairbanks to Michael York. Rourledge. p. 87. Retrieved 16 April 2015.