Quentin Durward (The Adventures of Quentin Durward) (1955)

 

 

 

 

Director:     Richard Thorpe.

Starring:     Robert Taylor (Quentin Durward),  Kay Kendall (Isabelle, Countess of Marcroy),  Robert Morley (King Louis XI),  George Cole (Hayraddin),  Alec Clunes (Charles, Duke of Burgundy),  Duncan Lamont (Count William De la Marck),  Laya Raki (Gypsy Dancer),  Marius Goring (Count Philip De Creville),  Wilfrid Hyde-White (Master Oliver),  Eric Pohlmann (Gluckmeister),  Harcourt Williams (Bishop of Liége),  Michael Goodliffe Count De Dunois),  John Carson (Duke of Orléans),  Nicholas Hannen (John - Cardinal Balue),  Moultrie Kelsall (Lord Malcolm).

 in 1465 Quentin Durward travels to France for an arranged marriage to suit King Louis XI

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film.

"Our story begins in Scotland in 1465 -- when Knighthood was a drooping blossom, but the Scot, as usual, was poor in naught but cash."

Quentin Durward wants to see his elderly Uncle Lord Crawford. Uncle has a job for Quentin. He wants Quentin to take his portrait to the French court. He will go to the court of Charles The Bold, Duke of Burgundy. He, in turn, will give the portrait to a young woman in who Uncle is interested. He hopes to marry this woman Isabelle, Countess of Marcroy. Uncle shows Quentin the woman's portrait and Quentin says she is a very pretty lady.

Uncle says Quentin must get a good look at this woman to make sure her portrait matches the real Isabelle. If it does, then Quentin is to find out if this woman would make a good wife.

What Quentin can't figure out is why would this Isabelle want to marry Uncle? Uncle says she is marrying him for political reasons.

France. The Chateau of the Duke of Burgundy at Peronne. Northeast France.

The Duke of Burgundy tells Isabelle that the Scottish ambassador is waiting to see Isabelle. She doesn't wish to marry Lord Crawford. It's her ward, the Duke of Burgundy, who wants her to marry Uncle. He says he needs an alliance with Scotland.

Quentin meets with the Scottish ambassador. He gives a letter to the ambassador and then the portrait of his uncle. Quentin says he would like to meet the lady and see if she is worthy enough for his uncle. The ambassador says she is probably the wealthiest woman in Europe and one of the most beautiful. Quentin can meet her tonight at the banquet being held in honor of the ambassador.

The quests file into the dining hall. A man comes running to Charles the Bold to tell him that Isabelle has vanished. Quentin immediately goes and gets on a horse. He rides to the gate and asks if a coach passed through here recently? Yes. Quentin rides on after the coach.

The coach stops for awhile at a station. Isabelle gets out for awhile and then gets back in. The coach heads out.

From the station a young man rides out to a group of bandits to tell them of the jewel box that Isabelle carries with her on her journey. The bandits get up and start to move out. The young man wants at least some money for his service. Instead, he gets slapped across the face. When he walks away from the bandits he is struck in the back with the dart from a cross-bow.

Quentin arrives at the station. He asks if a coach passed by the station? Yes. Quentin gets back on his horse and continues the chase.

The coach man stops to ask a tinker which road to take. At this rate, Quentin is sure to catch up with the coach. Quentin does catch up with the coach and he warns the guards that bandits are headed for them. Quentin climbs up upon the roof of a bridge.

When the bandits try to ride over the bridge, the two guards fire their guns at the blackguards. Then the guards take off. Quentin jumps on a couple of the bandits and starts whacking them around. The other bandits come to the rescue of their comrades.

The tinker's wagon filled with hay catches on fire when the lantern falls off its position and lands in the hay. The bandits see the wagon headed for the bridge and they all run out the other side of the bridge. The wagon crashes into the side of the bridge.  Quentin climbs back up the roof.

Seeing Quentin on top of the roof, the bandits start shooting at him. Quentin jumps off the roof and into the river. He gets away.

Quentin has to hitch rides back to see the ambassador. The ambassador is shocked when Quentin says he prevented Count William De la Marck from catching Isabelle. He tells Quentin that De la Marck is the terror of Flanders. They call him the beast of Ardennes. The ambassador asks where all this took place? All Quentin can say is that it was on the way to Beauvais.

The ambassador says that Quentin may end up matching wits with the King of France, Louis XI. The king despises the code of chivalry as being too feudalistic and non-modern. He is both ruthless and unscrupulous. Quentin asks what does he have to do with the king? Plenty because probably Isabelle is on her way to the king to seek his protection. And if Burgundy finds out that Isabelle has gone over to the king, there may be civil war.

[Google reports: "Philip the Good was keen to start a Crusade and Louis gave him money in exchange for a number of territories including Picardy and Amiens. But Philip's son, Charles, was angry, feeling that he was being deprived of his inheritance. He joined a rebellion called the League of the Public Weal, led by Louis's brother Charles. Although the rebels were largely unsuccessful in battle, Louis was forced to grant an unfavorable peace as a matter of political expediency."  A little later he broke the peace.]

The ambassador says there may be civil war in France and that is not in the interests of Scotland. Quentin says that it's a piece of cake to attach himself to the court and get to talk to Isabelle.

The age of feudalism and chivalry is ending. The ambassador warns Quentin that, with his high integrity, he is a bit obsolete in this modern age that is ruled by guns and not lances. And Louie is the very symbol of this new modern world. Quentin will be up against ruthless and duplicitous men and they might get the better of him if he is not careful.

The Chateau of King Louis XI at Plessis les Tours. [The Château de Plessis-lez-Tours is a Renaissance château located in the town of La Riche in the Indre-et-Loire department, in the Loire Valley of France. The Loire Valley is located in the middle stretch of the Loire River in central France.]

On Quentin's arrival the guards throw him down a hill. So now Quentin has to find a different way into the castle.

While looking at the castle from different perspectives, two gypsy women come in to beg him to help them. One of the gypsy men has been strung up and is dying. Quentin climbs up the tree and cuts the man down. The gypsies are all around him when suddenly a group of men come and the gypsies run away. The man who was hanging from a rope is the last one to start running and he is shot by one of the police men in the group.

The men thought the gypsy man would have already died and the group of men blame the two hangmen for this. One of the hangmen looks up into the tree and sees Quentin up there. Quentin comes down from the tree but now the men are blaming Quentin. He defends himself by saying that he is a Scotsman who is a stranger in this land. He was only trying to save a man's life. He gets very frustrated with the hard time he is being given. He says he is an honest man, but if these are the king's men, the king must not be too bright.

It turns out that one of the men is King Louis XI. He tells his men to let the man go, but if he is still around at night the men can do what they wish to the fellow. The king says he doesn't want to deal with honest men.   He only trusts men who he can buy.

At night Quentin is still casing out the joint. The brother of the man Quentin tried to save, Hayridden, comes up to him to tell him not to be so brave or he will come to a bad ending. The man says he is a spy. In fact, both he and his brother had been working sometimes with Burgundy and sometimes with the king. His brother was recently working for Burgundy and he found out that the Countess of MarCroy is at the king's castle. That's why they wanted his brother dead.

Despite the gypsy's attempts to stop him, Quentin starts swimming across the river to get to the castle. He gets to the other side and then climbs up some vines. He keeps climbing until he makes it into the castle. With a distraction from the gypsy on the other side of the river, Quentin pushes a guard over the ramparts.

He gets into the king's room and holds a dagger to his throat. He wakes the king up and says that the king does need his help because he got into the king's chambers and yet where are all the king's men? He repeats that he is a an honest man and to prove it, he gives the dagger to the king. The king quickly picks up the dagger, hops out of bed and acts a bit aggressive for a little while, then he throws the dagger onto the bed and asks Quentin if he wants to have a drink with him? Yes.

Isabelle and Lady Hameline talk about the old days of chivalry. All of a sudden, Quentin comes bursting through the door. He apologizes profusely for the interruption and says he opened the wrong door. He excuses himself and backs out of the room.

Isabelle liked the look of the man and she asks Lady Hameline if she knows anything about the fellow? No.

The envoy for the Duke of Burgundy arrives at the king's castle. The king tells Quentin to go into the next room and tell the lady there that she is not to come out of her room until the kings comes to talk with her. Durward goes next door.

Quentin goes into the room and locks the door behind him. Isabelle protests his presence, so he has to tell her that it's the kings orders that she not make her presence known to the Burgundians. She starts to bang on the door and yell for help and Quentin has to cover her mouth with one of his hands. Now she calms down.

The envoy from the Duke of Burgundy, named Count Philip De Creville, enters to speak with the king on his throne. The envoy says Burgundy has a couple of demands. The king should stop trying to encourage revolts in the Burgundian towns of Ghent [a city and a municipality located in the Flemish region of Belgium] and Liège [a major city and municipality of Belgium located in the province of Liège]. And the king must immediately return the Countess of MarCroy.

The king says he will come to Peronne and speak with the Duke of Burgundy to work out a joint settlement with him.

Meanwhile, Isabelle and Quentin have gotten to know each other a bit. They even play a game of chess. Quentin keeps getting up to look out a window to see what's going on.

When the king's barber comes in the king says that he has no intention of going alone to Peronne. Instead, he is going to contact the bandits led by Count William De la Marck to do some dirty work for them. He tells the barber to send for Hayraddin. He will go talk with the bandits.

Isabelle begs Quentin to tell her why is he here, a Scotsman in the court of the French King? He doesn't really tell her the entire story. The king comes into the room and Quentin goes out. He tells Isabelle that in a few days she has to leave because he lied and said in public that Isabelle was not here in the castle.

Isabelle says she will go to the Bishop of Liege, who is her godfather. He loves her and won't forbid her sanctuary. The king will send her through the forest of Ardennes and thereby avoid Peronne.

Hayridden is the gypsy that helped Quentin get into the castle. The king gives the barber two big bags of coins for De la Marck and a small one for Hayridden. The king also tells the barber that he is sending Quentin Durward to be the main guard, since Isabelle is in love with him and Quentin is an honest man.

Hayridden rides out on a horse. The king watches as he goes.

Hayridden gives the bags of coins to Count William De la Marck.

In the morning the king tells Quentin not to go off the routes chosen for him to take. Quentin asks who will be the passenger? Isabelle. The two people are glad to see each other.

The coach rides through the countryside.

They stop for the night at a coach station. During dinner Isabelle asks Quentin if he knows Lord Crawford? Quentin chokes a little on his food. She explains her situation and wonders if Quentin thinks she is doing the right thing. She doesn't want to marry Lord Crawford. Does Quentin think she should surrender and return to Burgundy? Quentin says he cannot speak against a fellow Scotsman.

Isabelle starts getting suspicious of Quentin and asks if he works for the Duke of Burgundy? Quentin scoffs at this. How did he know her name when not even the king told him her name? "What are you doing in France?" He tells her he took an oath, sworn of secrecy on the matter.

Quentin tells her he will be next door. She is to cry out if there is any problem in her room and he will hear her. Isabelle is a bit perplexed at what to think about this.

The next day the coach is on the move again. One of the wheels of the coach falls off. They have to stop. Hayridden shows up and Quentin talks to him for awhile. Hayridden is to be their guide the rest of the way.

Meanwhile, Isabelle grabs her jewelry box and starts running away. After awhile Quentin discovers she is gone and runs after her. He catches up with her in a big field. She tells him not to touch her because she cannot trust him. Quentin tells her that he loves her. That changes her attitude. He says she can't run away. She won't make it to Liege. So come along with him to Liege at least. They kiss and then walk back to the coach.

They stop again at another coach station. Quentin tells Hayridden to go get a blacksmith and two strong men to fix the wheel permanently.

Hayridden has been begging Quentin to come with him to his gypsy camp. And now we know why. The bandit leader and his men are here. Hayridden begs the chief to spare his friend Quentin. The chief is not interested in sparing anyone.

Isabelle tells Quentin she is scared of those evil-looking men working for the station. She wants Quentin to stay in her room. He says the king chose the station so things should be alright.

Hayridden looks out the window and sees the bandits start taking their positions. Hayridden finally confesses to Quentin that the bandits are going to kill him tonight.

A bandit starts coming through the window. Isabelle grabs a pitch fork and forcse him backwards. The man falls off the roof to the ground.

Now Quentin has to fight off a hell of a lot of bandits. He gets a little help from the guards, but not much.

Isabelle crawls along the roof until she finds Hayridden and he helps her down into Quentin's room.

Quentin fights on with the bandits. Isabelle tells Hayridden to help Quentin, but Hayridden says: "Impossible, I am a coward." So Isabelle finds some type of furniture and throws it onto one of the bandits.

But now here comes the chief bandit himself to kill Quentin. Luckily, Quentin jumps up on a wagon, finds a horse whip and starts whipping the chief. He pushes the chief back until the whip wraps around a beam.

And here comes more bandits. Hayridden and Isabelle get on a couple of horses. They start riding out of the stable. Quentin jumps on the back of Hayridden's horse, but all three of them are about to be caught by the bandits. So Isabelle throws her jewelry box down on the ground and the bandits all jump on each other trying to get to the jewelry. The three on horseback are getting away. One of the bandit arrives late and fires his gun and wounds Quentin.

Count William arrives and starts kicking his greedy men. He then goes after the temporary leader of the gang and smacks him around.

Hayridden takes the team to his gypsy camp. Isabelle realizes that Quentin has been wounded when she grabs his hand and gets blood on herself. Quentin collapses and Isabelle yells for help.

A gypsy woman works on Quentin's wound. When he is stabilized, Hayridden takes his two passengers on a gypsy wagon and leaves the camp so Count William and his bandits won't hurt the gypsies at the camp.

Count William has to split his forces to take the two branches going right and left. Hayridden takes the wagon off the main path and hides so the bandits race by them without noticing them.

Hayridden paddles a boat down stream while Isabelle holds Quentin. The next morning they reach the cathedral of the Bishop of Liege. Isabelle runs inside the cathedral.

News reaches Burgundy that Isabelle has been granted sanctuary by the Bishop of Liege. A cardinal gives the king news that Isabelle is safe in Liege. And the lady absolutely denies the Burgundian charges that the king gave her protection for awhile.

The king does not like this news because he was hoping Isabelle and Quentin would be killed by the bandits. So now Louie has to go to Peronne to keep his promise.

The bandits are taking Louie's gold to buy cannon to lay siege to the Cathedral at Liege. Isabelle tells Quentin again that she loves him.

He says he has to leave. He must go to Perrone. Quentin now explains that he is a nephew of Lord Crawford. He says he loves his uncle, dried up though he may be, but he can't do anything dishonorable so he must go back to Scotland. Isabelle cries over the news and wonders if she will ever see Quentin again.

The king comes to Perrone. At night Quentin takes off. Hayridden says he will accompany him to the town. Along the way he asks Quentin how can he leave when Isabelle and he love each other? Quentin laughs and says goodbye.

Hayridden is at the same bar with the bandits. The bandits run to get him. Hayridden rides out as fast as he can. He is hit by two bullets from the guns of the bandits.

The bandits open fire with the cannon on the cathedral. Then they go over the parapets. The temporary leader grabs Isabelle. The bandits now ruin the cathedral. Fires burn in the cathedral. Isabelle is brought to Lord William. He tells his men to go get the bishop. He is going to marry Isabelle.

Quentin finds Hayridden's dead body. The bishop puts a curse on Lord William, so the bandit stabs him with his dagger. By now Quentin is in the cathedral and he has seen what happened to the bishop. He hears Lord William tell the temporary leader to get him another priest.

Quentin kills the temporary leader. Then he tells Lord William that the king sends his blessing and Quentin will give the bride away. This gives Isabelle enough time to go to him and now they both run from the pursuing bandits.

Isabelle finds a hidden staircase and they get away from the bandits for awhile. Lord William and his bandits start racing up the regular stairs that are burning. The stairs give way and only William escapes death by fire.

Now Quentin and Lord William join in mortal combat. The men swing back and forth over the fires trying to kill each other. They fight each other on the stairs. Lord William gets himself tangled in the ropes and is now being slowly choked to death. Quentin goes after him to finish him off.

The Duke of Burgundy has arrested the king and put him on trial. He claims that the king arranged the murder of the Bishop of Liege.

Quentin and Isabelle come back home but are arrested as the king has been arrested. The Scottish ambassador speaks with Quentin. He tells Quentin to escape because he can do nothing for him. But Quentin can't leave Isabelle behind. The ambassador says Lord Crawford is dead and there will be no alliance.

Quentin comes to the trial of the king. He brings with him something wrapped in canvas. He opens the canvas and tosses Lord William's head onto the floor. He says he went to kill Lord William under the king's command. This saves the king. And now the king can start negotiations with the Duke of Burgundy for a united and imperishable France. 

The king says Isabelle will marry Dunwa and the Duke says she will marry Count Philip De Creville. Quentin tells Isabelle that his uncle has died so there will be no marriage to the old man. She tells Quentin that they are giving her to Creville.

The king says let's allow Isabelle to choose her own husband. Isabelle says she wants to marry Quentin Durward. The king says no, the Duke says they agreed to let her choose her own husband. The Duke insists. (The king winks at Isabelle.) The Duke tells Isabelle to take her husband and be gone.

On the road in a coach Quentin asks Isabelle what happened? She just kisses him.

 

There are not many movies dealing with France's King Louis XI and his battle with the Duke of Burgundy.  So I jumped at the chance to review the film.  The film has lots of action in it.  It also has a nice love story between Quentin and Isabelle.  It's a long struggle to clear the way for the two lovers and they both get very frustrated.  Robert Taylor as Quentin looked at 44 years of age quite a bit older than pretty Kay Kendall (playing the part of Isabelle).  I enjoyed the film. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

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