I spent quite a bit of time over the Christmas break watching classic movies. I’ve always been a big fan of the old swashbuckling Hollywood epics, and I got through quite a few of them in the past few weeks. For the next few blog posts I thought I’d go through my favourite swashbuckling classics.

The first warning is a spoiler alert. I’ll put one in at the start of each post, as I know how upset people can get when someone gives away the good bits. They’re all old movies so the chances are you’ll have come across the plots before, but if you haven’t seen them and want to, it might be an idea to watch it before reading the posts! Suffice to say, if you like classic swashbuckling type movies, all of the movies I mention will be worth a look!

My approach to this is to give a few specifics about the film, a one or two  line synopsis (if I can manage to condense it!) and a comment on the swashbuckling aspect.

Coming in at number one is my current personal favourite, and perhaps not what would be considered an obvious choice.

1. Adventures of Don Juan, 1948. Starring Errol Flynn and Viveca Lindfors.

Much of the commentary on this movie seems to be of the opinion that Errol Flynn was past his prime when he made this film. However, as a chap now on the wrong side of thirty myself, I think he did a pretty bang up job.

The title sums it up really; it’s about the adventures of the famous lady’s man Don Juan as he is punished for his general misbehaviour and gets caught up in a political intrigue at the Spanish court in the 17th century.

This film gets my number one spot not only because the whole movie is good fun, but because the stairway duel at the end is my all-time favourite film sword fight.

While picking my number one was not difficult, the next few were tough to choose between, and on another day the order might be different!

2. Captain Blood, 1935. Starring Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Basil Rathbone.

Flynn’s first big Hollywood role and the one that made him a star. It’s based on the eponymous book by Rafael Sabatini and is the first mention of an actor that will feature frequently on this list (2nd only to Flynn off the top of my head) whose name you’ve probably not heard before, Basil Rathbone. This one got the edge over number 3 as the book is also one of my all-time favourites.

Captain Peter Blood gets caught up in the Monmouth Rebellion in 17th Century England and is unjustly punished by being  shipped off to Jamaica as a slave. While there he escapes and becomes captain of a pirate ship; derring-do, swashbuckling and romance ensues.

The swashbuckling peak in this movie is the duel on the beach between Captain Blood and the villainous Captain Levasseur, brilliantly played by Rathbone.

Captain Blood is a solid claimant for the number two spot, but not without stiff competition and what could easily be argued as an equally strong claim by the film in 3rd place, which will appear in my next post!

Part II can be found here.

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