Flame and the Arrow, The (1950)

Flame and the Arrow, The (1950)

“A man who knows what he’s dying for only seems to die.”

In medieval Hessian-occupied Italy, an archer named Dardo (Burt Lancaster) loses his son (Gordon Gebert) to his estranged wife (Lynn Baggett), who is cohabitating with Count Ulrich “The Hawk” (Frank Allenby). With the help of his loyal sidekick (Nick Cravat), Dardo kidnaps The Hawk’s niece (Virginia Mayo) for ransom, and attempts to bargain for his son.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Burt Lancaster Films
  • Historical Dramas
  • Jacques Tourneur Films
  • Kidnapping
  • Revolutionaries
  • Royalty and Nobility
  • Virginia Mayo Films

Jacques Tourneur directed this Waldo Salt-scripted historical adventure flick, co-starring Burt Lancaster and his former circus partner Nick Cravat (the duo would go on to co-star in The Crimson Pirate two years later).

The Flame and the Arrow — the top-grossing film of its year — is prime escapist fare, filmed in Technicolor and featuring both swashbuckling fights and daring acrobatic feats performed by Lancaster and Cravat themselves.

Indeed, it’s easy to see how audiences of the time would appreciate its colorful sense of fun, daring, and rebellion, with beautiful and feisty Virginia Mayo included as well.

With that said, it’s not must-see viewing for all film fanatics, but rather recommended for those who enjoy well-told tales of this time period and genre.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Colorful sets and fight sequences

  • Ernest Haller’s cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s worthy viewing for fans of swashbucklers.


One thought on “Flame and the Arrow, The (1950)

  1. First viewing. Agreed – not must-see, but well done all the same and an absorbing flick for those who enjoy films of this type.

    As per my post in ‘The ’40s-’50s in Film’ (fb):

    “People get you into things. Things get you into trouble. Trouble gets you mixed up with people. Then it starts all over again.”

    ‘The Flame and the Arrow’ (1950) I hadn’t seen this Burt Lancaster flick before. The ad campaign kind of cracks me up. It’s not that it’s wrong… exactly… but it’s misleading and deceptive, anyway. We’re led to believe ‘the love of his life’ is Virginia Mayo. Well, yes, that’s kind of true but Lancaster’s character’s real ‘love’ in the pic is his young son, who is abducted. The whole feel of this film – with Lancaster in Robin Hood mode – kind of reminds me of Danny Kaye’s ‘The Court Jester’… except this one is a drama. If it’s not wildly memorable (certainly not as memorable as the wacky ‘Court Jester’), it does have a solid, intelligent script by Waldo Salt (I did not know his career went back this far) and is deftly directed by the usually dependable Jacques Tourneur. Lancaster and his bud Nick Cravat engage in some slightly hair-raising acrobatics. A diverting piece of entertainment.

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