Entertainment Magazine

Sword Play and Noir on a Monday Night

Posted on the 28 January 2013 by Lady Eve @TheLaydeeEve
I wasn’t sure, exactly, what the word meant and was curious, so I went to the Internet in search of an answer. There I found the verb swashbuckle defined as “to engage in daring and romantic adventures with ostentatious bravado or flamboyance.” According to Merriam Webster, the word is a “back-formation” from the noun swashbuckler that came into use in around 1897. The Online Etymology Dictionary revealed more on the history of swashbuckler:
1550’s “fighting, swaggering fighting man” (earlier simply swash, 1540s), from swash “fall of a blow”…plus buckler “shield.” The original sense seems to have been “one who makes menacing noises by striking his or an opponent’s shield.”
Fascinating. Well, it is if you love words as I do.
On Monday, January 28, Turner Classic Movies treats viewers to many hours of swashbuckling with an evening devoted to “Sword Play.” Two of the genre’s great stars, Tyrone Power and Errol Flynn, will be in the spotlight, along with Oscar winner Jose Ferrer and a pair of 20th Century Fox’s lesser leading men, John Payne and Cornel Wilde.
SWORD PLAY AND NOIR ON A MONDAY NIGHTThe first film in the line-up (8pm Eastern/5pm Pacific) is the best of the night’s offerings. It is 20th Century Fox’s rollicking remake of a 1920 Douglas Fairbanks  classic, The Mark of Zorro (1940) starring Tyrone Power in the title role, with Linda Darnell, Basil Rathbone, Gale Sondergaard and Eugene Pallette. Directed by Rouben Mamoulian, who would re-team with Power again for 1941’s Blood and Sand, the film was a blockbuster in its time that set the standard for the multitude of big and small screen remakes and sequels to come. Power’s performance as the fey-by-day/heroic-by-night Don Diego/Zorro is one of his signature roles - and The Mark of Zorro contains one of the all-time great swordfights on film. New York Times critic Bosley Crowther cited the “jim-dandy duel between Mr. Power and the villainous Basil Rathbone, which ends about as juicily as anyone could wish.” Rathbone, a skilled fencer, would recall, “Power was the most agile man with a sword I’ve ever faced before a camera. Tyrone could have fenced Errol Flynn into a cocked hat.” Rathbone, who dueled with both men onscreen, would surely have known. Alfred Newman’s memorable score was nominated for an Oscar and, more recently - in 2009, The Mark of Zorro was selected by the National Film Preservation Board to be added to the National Film Registry’s list of “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” films.
Next up on TCM’s Monday night schedule (10pm Eastern/7pm Pacific) is Adventures of Don Juan from Warner Bros. in 1948 starring the credibly cast Errol Flynn in one of his later swashbuckling efforts. John Barrymore had starred with Mary Astor in a silent 1927 rendering of the infamous lover’s legend. In the Warner’s production, directed by Vincent Sherman, the great ‘swordsman’ is compelled to provide assistance to his queen (Viveca Lindfors) and country. With this film Flynn was returning to a familiar genre following the so-so reception of his most recent post-war films. Though Adventures of Don Juan was not a great box office success, it won an Oscar for costume design and a nomination for art and set design.


Jose Ferrer won an Oscar for his portrayal of Cyrano

Cyrano de Bergerac (1950)from Stanley Kramer Productions, is set to air at midnight Eastern/9pm Pacific. Jose Ferrer won a Best Actor Oscar for his colorful portrayal of the poetic swordsman with the preposterous proboscis. Mala Powers co-stars as the beloved Roxane.
Later (2am Eastern/11am Pacific), John Payne rides the waves in Raiders of the Seven Seas (1953) and finally (3:45am Eastern/12:45am Pacific), Cornel Wilde stars in At Sword’s Point (1951) as the offspring of one of the Three Musketeers. Maureen O’Hara co-stars. 
The Mark of Zorro is a favorite of mine and I barely remember Adventures of Don Juan so, because I'm going to be out Monday night, I'll be recording both. Monday marks my first sojourn this year to San Francisco’s Noir City festival. The night's program is a “Pre-Code Proto-Noir Triple Bill” – William Wyler’s A House Divided (1931) starring Walter Huston, The Kiss Before the Mirror (1933) directed by James Whale starring Nancy Carroll, Frank Morgan and Gloria Stuart, and Laughter in Hell (1933), a film thought to be lost but recently rediscovered, starring Pat O’Brien. I’ll be back to the noir fest on Wednesday night for “San Francisco Noir,” a double-bill we couldn’t resist featuring Edward Dmytryk’s The Sniper (1952) and Experiment in Terror (1962), directed by Blake Edwards and starring Glenn Ford and Lee Remick.
It seems, when it comes to movie-watching, my life has becomethe definition of the adjective busy...

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