The Flame and the Arrow

Director: Jacques Tourneur
Year Released: 1950
Rating: 3.5

Lithe Friend of the Underprivileged (Burt Lancaster) has both his wife and son stolen from him by the malevolent Ruler of the Land (Frank Allenby) and must reclaim his son (his wife can stay for all he cares): it's about the desire to regain masculinity, of restoring one's "manhood." This is a shining example of taking a standard genre picture and using the basic framework for outstanding creative touches: the freshness and 'knowing' script are courtesy of the immensely clever Waldo Salt. Lancaster is every bit as charismatic as Errol Flynn, and though there is an intriguing sword fight in this, it's Lancaster's Circus Skills that really dazzle, and they're written into the action: Burt does flips at the end, he embraces his son and he kisses the girl (heterosexuality restored!). It might be heresy - something I'm used to - but this is inarguably my favorite Tourneur movie (and oddly, I'm more of a horror fan than anything).