The Black Shield of Falworth (1954)

Tony Curtis and Craig Hill in The Black Shield of Falworth (1954)

Arise Sir Tony of Curtis

Peasants Meg (Barbara Rush) and Myles (Tony Curtis) have been raised with no idea of who their father was, it is something which Myles desperately wants to know. But having been sent to Macworth castle where Myles is to be trained as an esquire whilst Meg as lady in waiting to Lady Anne (Janet Leigh) things take a dramatic turn as not only does Myles fall in love with Anne but the truth about who their father was comes out. And when it comes out Myles finds himself with some surprising allies as he sets about regaining his birthright.

Ignoring the hilarity of Tony Curtis playing an English peasant with a Bronx accent and "The Black Shield of Falworth" is not a bad movie. It is a typical costume swashbuckler as Curtis plays a peasant who after discovering who his father was has a battle on his hands to reclaim his birthright leading to plenty of leaping, bounding, climbing and so on and so fourth. But "The Black Shield of Falworth" is entertaining, the swashbuckling action is exciting, Tony Curtis delivers a few wise cracks in between heroics and both Janet Leigh and Barbara Rush add the requisite touch of beauty typical of 1950s action movies. Oh and the story, well whilst not overly memorable is enough of a vehicle to not only keep you interested but also set up all the action.

Barbara Rush and Janet Leigh in The Black Shield of Falworth (1954)

In terms of cinematic history "The Black Shield of Falworth" probably deserves to be better known not just because it is a more than competent swashbuckler, as well as being the 2nd movie which Curtis & Leigh starred in together, but because it was also Universal-International's first movie in CinemaScope. And because it was Universal-International's first movie in CinemaScope it certainly doesn't look like some quickly put together production. The sets look great as do the costumes and whilst the story is fictitious the look, the weapons and so much else looks authentic, well if you ignore Tony Curtis's out of place Brooklyn accent.

But even beyond the look "The Black Shield of Falworth" has a reasonably decent storyline, not epic by any means but with the story of Meg and Myles discovering who their father was and then trying to regain their birthright it has a bit going on. There is treachery, deception, romance and even a touch of comedy thanks to Tony Curtis's trademark wise cracks but it all combines for an enjoyable storyline as Myles unknowingly is trained in preparation for when the truth comes out and gets the opportunity to clear the family name. Some of it is typical, the romance or actually romances are text book and whilst entertaining the fights are just as typical but it all knits together nicely to deliver plenty of energy and enthusiasm.

And at the heart of this is Tony Curtis who leaps, bounds and wise cracks his way through "The Black Shield of Falworth" with such light feet there are times his swashbuckling looks like he is in a ballet. It is a wonderful performance from Curtis which immediately makes Myles likeable and even his Brooklyn accent ends up adding some humour to the movie even though it is wrong on so many levels. In fact whilst both Janet Leigh and Barbara Rush add a touch of beauty and Craig Hill is solid as Myles's friend Francis "The Black Shield of Falworth" is really Tony Curtis's movie.

What this all boils down to is that "The Black Shield of Falworth" is an entertaining swashbuckler which whilst not epic certainly deserves to be better known because it is pure swashbuckling entertainment. And it is thanks to Tony Curtis and his enthusiasm as he bounds around the screen that it never becomes dull.