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SWORD AND THE ROSE, THE (director: Kenneth Annakin; screenwriters: Lawrence E. Watkins/based on the novel “When Knighthood Was in Flower” by Charles Major; cinematographer: Geoffrey Unsworth; editor: Gerald Thomas; music: Clifton Parker; cast: Glynis Johns (Princess Mary Tudor), Richard Todd (Charles Brandon), James Robertson Justice (King Henry VIII), Michael Gough (Duke of Buckingham), Jane Barrett (Lady Margaret), Peter Copley (Sir Edwin Caskoden); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Perce Pearce; a Walt Disney production released by R.K.O; 1953)
“A dullish historical romantic period film that’s not very historical or romantic.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A dullish historical romantic period film that’s not very historical or romantic, but the Disney people do a beautiful job with the photography. The characters never rise above being two-dimensional figures. Kenneth Annakin (“Trio”/”Quartet”/”Hotel Sahara”) directs by ignoring historical accuracy in favor of a colorful adventure story and some yummy pageantry. It’s based on the novel “When Knighthood Was in Flower” by Charles Major and written by Lawrence E. Watkins. It was filmed before as a silent in 1923 with Marion Davies.

It’s set at Windsor Castle in the court of King Henry VIII (James Robertson Justice), whose headstrong sister Mary Tudor (Glynis Johns) has fallen in love with dashing lower-class soldier of fortune Charles Brandon (Richard Todd). The commoner defeats her noble suitor, the Duke of Buckingham (Michael Gough), in a wrestling match. Mary gets hot over the victor and dumps the Duke for Brandon, who in pronto time is made Captain of the Guards. The problem is that the Duke, the King’s councilor and Lord High Constable, is a crafty schemer and makes for a dangerous foe.

England’s fun-loving roguish King Henry and France’s elderly King Louis XII agree to a peace pact in exchange for Mary’s hand in marriage. Mary decides to marry Louis on the promise by her brother that she may wed the gent of her choice as soon as the sickly French sovereign meets his Maker. Brandon, through the efforts of the villainous Duke, ends up in the Tower of London. It all leads to a climactic battle between Brandon and the duplicitous Duke. By the final act, the wily Mary has secretly wed Brandon and returned to England, where she tells her brother to name her hubby the Duke of Suffolk.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”