The Scarlet Blade (1963) starring Lionel Jeffries, Oliver Reed, Jack Hedley, June Thorburn, Michael Ripper, Harold Goldblatt directed by John Gilling Movie Review

The Scarlet Blade (1963)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Oliver Reed and Lionel Jeffries in The Scarlet Blade (1963)

The Vanilla Blade

The year is 1648 and King Charles I has been captured by the Roundhead's and is being taken to London where he is to be tried and executed. But Col. Judd (Lionel Jeffries - Two Way Stretch) and Capt. Tom Sylvester (Oliver Reed - Sword of Sherwood Forest) of Cromwell's army decide to stop at the Beverley manor, the former home of the royalist Beverly family including Edward Beverley (Jack Hedley) who is the leader of a secret band of Royalists doing what they can to save the Monarchy. As Edward and his men try to rescue the King things become complicated as Col. Judd's daughter Claire (June Thorburn) is a secret Royalist who hopes one day to marry Edward except her father plans for her to marry Sylvester.

Movies like "The Scarlet Blade" simply wouldn't get made now or at least made in the same way because they dumb down something real and then deliver a generic tale on top. In this case we have the English Civil War which is dumbed down to the basic level that Cromwell and his roundheads were the bad guys and the Royalist cavaliers were the good guys. And that basic good guy bad guy set up paves the way for a swashbuckler/ adventure move with Edward Beverly being The Scarlet Blade who leads his band of men to save the King, all very Robin Hood in style but by no means as entertaining as a Robin Hood movie.

So what is wrong with "The Scarlet Blade" then? Well in fairness it is the fact that it ends up little more than a generic Robin Hood clone with Edward being are hero and Claire being are Maid Marian style character. And as a clone it offers up the familiar and purely routine sort of action which dominated these sorts of movies but it is anything but exciting with many of the action scenes feeling staged and unnatural.

Matters are not helped by the fact that Jack Hedley as Edward/ The Scarlet Blade and June Thorburn are incredibly ordinary and lack the charisma to get you behind them. Far better are Lionel Jeffries and Oliver Reed who both bring much more charisma to their roles as the bad guys and serious over shadow the performances from Hedley and Thorburn. In fact the only times when "The Scarlet Blade" is entertaining is when it focuses on them two together.

What this all boils down to is "The Scarlet Blade" is an old fashioned swashbuckler/ adventure movie that due to its generic storyline struggles to be average. If it wasn't for the performances of Lionel Jeffries and Oliver Reed as the movies villains it would be completely devoid of personality and character.