Saturday, June 23, 2012

Swashbuckler (1976)

Two depressing facts emerge when one surveys actor Robert Shaw’s career following his breakout performance in Jaws (1975): Shaw’s days on this earth were numbered, so he only had three years in which to enjoy his newfound fame, and almost every post-Jaws movie in which he starred was terrible. Nonetheless, one gets the impression that Shaw had a blast play-acting in macho leading roles, so, for instance, he exudes contagious joie de vivre in this terrible pirate movie. On some metaphysical level, the possibility that Shaw had fun making Swashbuckler compensates for the lack of enjoyment viewers derive from watching the movie. On the plus side, Swashbuckler is a fairly lavish production about an 18th-century buccaneer battling a crazed tyrant in Jamaica. Additionally, even though director James Goldstone can’t come close to matching the lighthearted approach to swordfighting featured in Richard Lester’s Musketeer movies of the same era, at least Goldstone fills the screen with talented actors. Dressed in a silly costume of red tights and a flowing red blouse, Shaw presents a lusty copy of Errol Flynn’s patented derring-do, and he shares mildly amusing interplay with his cheerful second-in-command, played by James Earl Jones. (The cast also includes Beau Bridges, Geneviève Bujold, Geoffrey Holder, and a young Angelica Huston.) However, the material is so generic that copious screen time is wasted on clichés like peg-legged pirates brandishing their cutlasses and growling. Worse, Peter Boyle’s performance as Lord Durant, the aforementioned tyrant, is atrocious. Woefully miscast, his contemporary American patois seeping through the fruity period jargon he’s forced to spew, Boyle tries to enrich his characterization with perverse qualities, but he seems like he’s in a different movie than everyone else. Unfortunately, the movie he’s in isn’t any better than Swashbuckler.

Swashbuckler: LAME

1 comment:

Guy Callaway said...

Saw this on a double bill with 'My Name Is Nobody'!