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When Knighthood Was In Flower,
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This review is from: The Sword And The Rose (DVD)
After World War II to help get Britain on her feet, Hollywood studios were not allowed to remove profits from that country. They were "encouraged" to spend such earnings making films in the British Empire using the local talent. Rather then set up animation studios over there, Walt Disney opted to spend the cash on live action films. The first of these was "Treasure Island"(1950) which was not only profitable, but well received by the critics. His next three British productions were a swashbuckler trilogy of varying degree of popularity beginning with "The Story Of Robin Hood" (1952), "The Sword And The Rose" (1953) and "Rob Roy The Highland Rogue"(1954). All three starred British actor Richard Todd, and while "Robin Hood" was popular the other two failed to find an audience. Too bad, for "The Sword And The Rose" in particular was a magnificent film, sumptuously mounted, brilliantly acted and beautifully photographed by the legendary Geoffrey Unsworth. Had it been filmed a few years later it would have undoubtedly been done so in the widescreen process, but as is Unsworth fills every frame beautifully including some of the most realistic matte work I've ever seen.
The Sword And The Rose tells the mostly fictional story of King Henry VIII's younger sister Mary and her love affair with commoner Charles Brandon. (Yes, there was a Charles Brandon and he DID marry Mary Tudor.) While seeking passage to the new world Brandon is waylaid at the Kings court and ultimately finds himself unwittingly made Captain of the Guard through the machinations of Mary, who is smitten with the handsome Charles. What follows are a series of adventures and derring do which almost cost Charles his life, however there is much fun along the way including a charming ballroom sequence.
The Sword And The Rose was broadcast on Disney's 1950's Disneyland T.V. series a few years later under its original literary title "When Knighthood Was In Flower" and was a huge success, particularly with young girls who were entranced with Glynis Johns' feisty, liberated portrayal of the Princess Mary. (Yes, liberated not only for those times, but also for the staid '50s). While the rest of the British cast is uniformly excellent (especially James Robertson Justice's marvelous portrayal of Henry) it is Ms. Johns who has the most screen time and makes this little known gem a wonderful historical romance. I'm glad Disney FINALLY released this title on DVD domestically even if it is only a club "exclusive". You can still buy it on Amazon (as of this date) and while the richly textured colors may be a little less so on the big screen it still looks very good, about as good as can be expected for a title unlikely to receive a major restoration. However, stay away from the Asian ALL REGION import as it is inferior.