Louis Hayward and Janet Blair in The Black Arrow (1948)

The Off Shoot of Robin Hood

Having been away fighting in the War of the Roses, Sir Richard Shelton (Louis Hayward) returns home to discover that his father has been killed supposedly by Sir John Sedley (Paul Cavanagh) who has taken to living in the woods with a band of outlaws. Not only that but his father's cruel half brother Sir Daniel Brackley (George Macready) has moved into the house and taken over the estate, running it in his mean ways. But as time passes Shelton becomes suspicious of Brackley and that Sedley was his father's murderer especially when he falls for Sedley's daughter Joanna (Janet Blair) although he is not the only one as Brackley also has set her in his sights as his next wife.

The best thing about "The Black Arrow" is its creativity as it obviously takes the story of Robin Hood then having crafted an original spin-off story changes the names to try and separate itself from it further. And so whilst it doesn't take a genius to spot the Robin Hood influences the fact we have a young man returning home from the war to deal with an evil, manipulative uncle who is laying blame to the Robin Hood like character works.

But having said that the creativity to "The Black Arrow" is the best thing about the movie I also have to say that it is pretty obvious and ticks various boxes when it comes to the adventure side of things. You don't need to be a genius to realise right away what is going on and who is behind things and it is made all the more obvious through text book characters and even more text book acting with sadly Louis Hayward making for not the most dashing of lead men whilst Janet Blair is attractive as Joanna she has very little to do.

Unfortunately the problems don't end their and sadly "The Black Arrow" is not the most exciting of movies either with a laborious, dialogue heavy first half which is spiced up by the occasional black arrow being shot from the woods. Part of that lack of excitement comes down to the fact than in this Hayward shows no signs of charisma at all and ends up hiding behind a theatrical style performance and the dull dialogue. Maybe the intention was to make the first half more of a thriller, more of a murder mystery as Shelton becomes suspicious and starts asking the sort of questions which will put him in danger but it is seriously lacking in tension if that was the intention.

What this all boils down to is that "The Black Arrow" has a good look and a nice idea but the end product ends up lacking tension, lacking excitement and in the case of the characters charisma to make them entertaining.