(1955)3Craig ButlerQuentin Durward is good swashbuckling fun, a popcorn movie that doesn't pretend to be anything else. In other words, creating capital-A Art was not on anyone's mind when Quentin was made, just something that would prove diverting to audiences. The result is flawed, certainly, but fans of medieval tales of romance and swordfights will be nicely entertained, even if the pace occasionally lags and if the story gets too tangled up in its own intrigues and never really gets straightened out. Naturally, modern viewers will wince at some of the stilted dialogue, but they'll also get drawn in by the yummy cinematography, which makes excellent (if spare) use of on-location castles and chateaux. The studio sets are also commendable, and the costumes are as lavish as one expects of an MGM period film. In the title role, Robert Taylor, who tended toward woodenness unless handled just right, is as lively and dashing as one might wish. It goes without saying that he looks the part, even if he is perhaps a bit older than the character's real age. Kay Kendall is also an eyeful, and if she remains a bit remote, she still brings considerable skill to the part. Best of all is Robert Morley, hamming it up and having a fine old time as Louis XI.
Sir Walter Scott's medieval take on the "John Alden" story formed the basis of Quentin Durward. Robert Taylor dons armor in the title role, playing the son of an aging Scottish nobleman. He has been dispatched to propose to a high-born Frenchwoman (Kay Kendall) on his uncle's behalf, but one look at the lady and Quentin Durward falls head over heels. But there are villains to vanquish in several sword fight setpieces, the best of which is the climactic battle in which the hero and the head bad guy (Duncan Lamont) dangle on bell ropes. Quentin Durward was the fifth MGM Robert Taylor picture filmed in whole or in part in England; the others were Conspirator, Quo Vadis, Ivanhoe and Knights of the Round Table.