The Scarlet Blade (1963) | Hammer’s English Civil War swashbuckler gets a jolly good polish

the scarlet blade dvd cover

The Bold Avenger…Whose Blade Slashed a Kingdom in Half!
1963’s The Scarlet Blade is a historical swashbuckler set during the English Civil War by Hammer director John Gilling. On the Roundheads side, we have Oliver Reed‘s devilish Captain Sylvester kidnapping King Charles on the orders of Lionel Jeffries‘s nasty Colonel Judd. Over in the Cavaliers camp, Jack Hedley (of Who Pays the Ferryman? fame) plays Edward Beverley – aka The Scarlet Blade. Thrown into the mix is Clare (played by June Thorburn, who would tragically die in a plane crash four years later) – a Royalist sympathiser who just happens to be Judd’s daughter and is going steady with Sylvester.

The Scarlet Blade

Igniting the Flames of Rebellion in a Land of Blood and Betrayal!  
All manner of adventure ensues as Clare helps Beverley (The Scarlet Blade is so much more masculine-sounding) rescue the King and bring Roundheads to heel. This is one of Hammer most memorable historical films, thanks to the BAFTA nominated colour photography of Jack Asher – the cameraman responsible for all of Hammer’s early horrors like Dracula and The Curse of Frankenstein. But my highlight is seeing the one-and-only Michael Ripper playing a gypsy called Pablo in some awful pantomine get-up. What a trooper that man was.

Michael Ripper in The Scarlet Blade

The Scarlet Blade makes for great matinee viewing and is now back on DVD (for the first time in the UK) following a 2012 restoration by StudioCanal Home Entertainment, part of their on-going trawl through the Hammer archives. This golden oldie is worth a revisit.

The Scarlet Blade also screens on Film4 in the UK



About Peter Fuller

Peter Fuller is an award-winning print, radio and television journalist and producer, with over 30 years experience covering film and television, with a special interest in world cinema and popular culture. He is a leading expert on the life and career of Vincent Price and actively promotes the actor's legacy through publications, websites and special events.

Posted on April 25, 2014, in British Film, Classic, Hammer-Amicus-Tigon, Might-See and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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