The Scarlet/Crimson Blade (1963)

 

 

 

Director:    John Gilling.

Starring:    Lionel Jeffries (Col. Judd), Oliver Reed (Capt. Tom Sylvester), Jack Hedley (Edward Beverley), June Thorburn (Claire Judd), Michael Ripper (Pablo), Harold Goldblatt (Jacob), Duncan Lamont (Major Bell), Clifford Elkin (Philip Beverley), Suzan Farmer (Constance Beverley), John Harvey (Sgt. Grey), Charles Huston (Drury).

A Hammer film.

A love affair goes on between a young man and a young woman on the two sides in the English civil war led by Cromwell for the Parliamentary side.  

 

 

Spoiler Warning:

1648.  This is the story of a band of freemen who defied a tyrant. 

Four freemen watch as the royal forces go by.  The leader Edward Beverley says:  "They're heading for Beverley Manor.  Both of you.  Wait for me at the gallows trees and be ready to travel."  He tells Pablo to get water and provisions and make sure the coast road is clear. 

Edward rides to a wealthy estate.  His father welcomes him and Edward tells him that Parliament's Colonel Judd's company will be here within the hour.  He says two of his men, Duncannon and Fitzroy, will escort the King.  They'll take the coast road.   King Charles I (reigned from 1625 to 1649) is staying at the estate.  Edward asks servant Jacob to ask the King to be ready to leave immediately.  Father says he's staying.  Edward warns him that they will kill him, but father is determined to stay. 

Edward's brother Philip and sister Constance come out and father says Edward will take them to safety.  And Edward is to remember that he and Philip were both reported killed at Preston.  The Ironsides (Oliver Cromwell's forces) don't know their true identity.  Father says he's going to wait for Colonel Judd. 

Col. Judd and his troops arrive at the estate.  The Colonel wants to know where is Charles Stuart?  Father tells him that he is a traitor and he will never find King Charles.  The Colonel bellows out:  "In the name of Cromwell I arrest you for conspiracy against the state."  Captain Tom later tells a soldier named Wyatt that the Colonel fights for the hand that pays him best.  Then Tom goes into the other room with the Colonel and Beverley.  Beverley still refuses to tell the Colonel where the King went. 

The King thanks Edward and Philip for what they did for him.  They now part company.  A spy has been watching the whole affair and soon will report the matter. 

Col. Judd tells his soldiers that in this district they are in is the core of the royalist resistance in the country.  They will stay here until every royalist has been hanged.

The spy turns in the information to Col. Judd.  The fellow asks the Colonel about a reward.  The Colonel says the man will get his reward if this information leads to the capture of the traitor Charles Stuart.  In the meantime, the spy will be placed in jail indefinitely.  The spy is shocked, but the Colonel says in jail no one can harm the man for turning in the traitor Charles I. 

The Colonel tells Captain Tom that his daughter Claire is expected to arrive soon.  He wants the Captain to greet her. 

The Captain greets her as "my beautiful Claire".  She says she's worried about her father because his reputation of leaving a trail of hatred behind him is spreading over the whole country.  She now inquires after Colonel Beverley.  Tom says she should ask her father about that.

The Colonel invites Claire into his room.  There Claire is shocked to find out that her father has already signed the death warrant for Col. Beverley.  Claire is furious with him and calls him, after his switching sides, a traitor, a murderer and a cringing slave begging crumbs from Cromwell's table.  Dad gets mad at her and tells her, whether she believes in the New Order or not, she will conform to it. 

The soldiers have captured the traitor Charles Stuart.  Claire goes over to him and bows before him.  Her father is not happy about that.  Col. Judd tells the Captain to get Charles to Hampton Court.  And shoot the two men with the traitor.  The Colonel waits for the sound of the shots of the firing squad.  He then goes into his room and closes the door. 

At night Claire sneaks into a room to look at a document in a chest.  When she hears the servant coming in, she hides behind a very large chair.  The servant comes in, then goes through a secret door.  Claire opens the secret door and goes inside.  She follows the servant down a hallway.  The servant meets with Edward, Philip, Pablo and Constance.  Edward has bad news.  Father is dead.  And the King has been taken.  Jacob now works for Col. Judd.  Edward says Jacob will bring them information on the disposition of troops, movement of transport and officials.  They will practice a tactic of hit and run at the enemy.  For instance, they attack a coach and kill the guard and the man inside the coach.  They attack a gathering of drunken Roundheads.  They kill quite a few of the soldiers and then they take off. 

Col. Judd is furious about these raids.  He wants to know who is the guerrilla leader.  Captain Tom speaks up and says the name of the man is the Scarlet Blade, but nobody in the entire district will ever betray him. 

The Colonel sends out his soldiers to grab people to be questioned about the raids.  They come into a royalist tavern and start calling out names of people:  Parsons, Fingle, the gypsy Pablo (not present).  They take the two that are present with them.  Pablo now comes out of hiding in a huge empty barrel.

A man named John Drury comes into the stables where Claire keeps her riding horse.  He asks her for the latest news.  She says she found a directive from Cromwell to her father.   The King is to be lodged at Hampton Court and then moved to the Tower.  John says they will try to rescue the King.  Meanwhile, they are helping royalist refugees heading to the coast with food and a place to rest.  He tells her that twelve men and women will arrive midnight the day after tomorrow.  Two friends of the King are trying to arrange asylum for him in France. 

Captain Tom comes into the stable and wants to know who is the man with her?  She says her horse came up lame and he helped get her and the horse back to the stables.  Tom slaps the man with his gloves and tells him to get out.  John goes.  Tom now tells Claire that he would gladly change sides for her any day.  Claire is not impressed. 

In the evening Tom arrives to escort Claire to dinner.  She says she's not ready yet and would he wait outside.  He tells her that he will wait in her room.  He starts forcibly kissing her and she slaps his face.  Tom puts his and her cards on the table, so to speak.  He says she's been aiding royalists to escape from England.  One of those she has helped in Major John Drury.  He says he will help her.  And if she refuses, then he will tell her father about her royalist actions.  Claire wants to know what he wants from her.  He says he only wants to be around her.  She says if he wasn't so stuck on himself, she might like him a little better.  And now they can go to dinner. 

Edward sneaks into the mansion by sliding into the waters of the moat and going under an iron grate. 

A Captain Blake from the garrison at Westerly arrives to speak to the Colonel.  This afternoon they were attacked and the station was burned down.  The Colonel demands to know who attacked them?  Just then Edward throws a brick through the window to the dining room.  The brick is wrapped in a cloth that has the following message:  "For every murder, a death."  It's signed by the Scarlet Blade.  The Colonel shouts that the man is on the grounds.  Get that man!  The men run out of the room, jump on their horses and away they go.  Meanwhile, the Scarlet Blade is still in the mansion.  He is in the courtyard trying now to get away from the guards.  He stabs one guard, shoots another and then jumps over the wall.  He runs to his horse and gets away.

Claire is pleased that the Scarlet Blade got away.  Her father says he thinks he knows how the man got into the mansion and then away again.  He figures that it has to be somebody who knows the mansion like the back of his hand.  He thinks it's Edward Beverley.  Captain Tom says the Beverley brothers both died at Preston.  The Colonel says most of the men fought at Preston and yet no one actually saw the Beverley brothers dead.  And the man who declared the brothers dead was a prisoner of war at the time.  It was none other than Major John Drury. 

Now the men go back into the dining room to finish their meals.  After dinner Claire tells Captain Tom that they should try to enlist the aid of Edward Beverley.  That way they will have a link between this house and the escape route.  A secret passage leads from the mansion house to the edge of the forest.  This gives Tom an idea.  He thinks he can now find the Scarlet Blade. 

Tom talks to the Colonel telling him that in the forest there's a traditional place of execution known as the gallows tree.  If they arrest Jacob, the Scarlet Blade will try to rescue the man.  They will be waiting for him.  The Colonel is pleased with the plan and he tells Tom that if the plan works, he will bring his name to the attention of none other than Oliver Cromwell himself.  He says execution will take place at noon tomorrow.

Jacob is now in prison. Tom goes to speak with him.  He asks where can he find the Scarlet Blade?  Jacob says he hopes he can trust Tom.  Then he tells him where to find the Scarlet Blade.  Tom asks for something that he can reveal to Edward to show that he's on Edward's side.  Jacob gives him the ring off his finger -- the very ring that Edward had given to him. 

Tom gets in to see Edward, who wants to know why the change of heart?  Tom says that it's on account of his fondness for the royalist Claire.  Edward now asks Tom to tell him his plan. 

The Scarlet Blade's men get into position as Col. Judd and his soldiers head for the gallows tree.  Jacob is in a cart being taken to be hanged.

Edward kills one of Judd's lookouts.  Others kill the rest of the lookouts. 

The troops reach the gallows tree and the noose is placed around Jacob's neck.  The Blade's men now rush from their hiding places and overcome the soldiers.  Edward jumps into the cart with Jacob and drives away with it. 

Edward and the others now return to their hideout.  Constance rushes out of the house to welcome her brothers.  Claire and Tom are also there to greet them.  Now they all go into the house and Claire starts talking with Edward abut her plans.  She says she has been helping the refugees, but there is only so much she can do for them.  Edward says he can supply arms to the refugees and can escort them to the coast.  That pleases Claire and now she wants to talk about freeing the King.  In two weeks or less, the King may be moved to the Tower.  It's their last chance to rescue their King.   They will speak more about this.  Tom and Claire now leave the house. 

Col. Judd says he knows for sure that someone inside the mansion walls is supplying Edward with crucial information on his movements.  Judd is really angry and especially so at Tom.  He shouts that 10 men were killed and 14 wounded.  The rest ran away.  He says he is now putting the full responsibility of catching the Scarlet Blade on Captain Sylvester. 

Claire leads the refugees through the forest.  She meets up with Edward and Philip.  She says the people now need a good rest.  Edward says that tomorrow Philip can take the refugees to the boats on the coast.  It doesn't take long until Edward and Claire are kissing each other.  She then says that she has to go back home.  When she gets back to her room, Tom is waiting for her.  He is a bit jealous thinking that it took her so long to get back because she was with Edward.  Claire says she does not want Tom always questioning her.  He says he has every right to question her because he is sticking his neck way out for her.  And now he wants to make love to her.  Claire breaks away from him.  She now tells Tom that she has fallen in love with the Scarlet Blade. 

Now Tom is really furious.  He has to be thinking hard of how he can get rid of the Scarlet Blade and still be able to woo the lovely Claire.  As he walks away from Claire's room, Col. Judd calls him over to meet Major Bell.  The Lord Protector Cromwell has appointed the Major to be Judd's deputy.  Judd himself will be leaving for London immediately to see Cromwell.

Judd leaves Tom under the deputy.  Major Bell is highly critical of Tom because he was the man in charge of stopping the depredations of the Scarlet Blade.  He especially criticizes Tom for not having been present at the hanging of the servant Jacob.   He says that Tom for now on will be present at every attempt to capture the Scarlet Blade. 

The next morning Major Bell tells Tom his plan.  It involves Edward's sister.  Search parties will be out in the forest looking for Constance Beverley.  If they find her, they have virtually found her brother.  They will hold the sister until the Scarlet Blade gives up.  And the Captain will be in charge of this whole operation. 

Claire speaks with Tom.  She says that John Drury is trying to set up an ambush so they can rescue the King.  She asks Tom if he can get to see Edward?  She has a message for Edward: she will meet him tonight at the oast house in the forest. 

Tom goes out with his soldiers, but he gives the responsibility for the search to the sergeant.  Tom then takes off. 

Claire talks with Jacob.  She tells him that Drury has 50 men with him near Hampton Court.  They need to tell Edward to get every available man together to move immediately when they get the signal. 

The sergeant in charge of the search comes to Jacob's place.  He is going to search the area.  Jacob tries to knock the sergeant down, but the sergeant dodges his blow.  He now goes after Jacob, but Edward arrives.  The sergeant and Edward fight it out.  Edward comes out the victor. 

The Roundheads capture Constance.  They put her in jail.  Major Bell comes to see her.  He says he will spare her life if she tells him the whereabouts of her brother. 

Edward finds out about Constance and is very worried.  Philip says they have been betrayed.  Pablo thinks the traitor is Captain Sylvester.  Edward decides to go it alone. 

Edward sneaks in through the secret passageway.  He runs into Claire, who tells him that Constance is in the cellar, but he better be careful.  There are guards all around the place. 

Edward strangles the first guard.  He stabs the second guard and grabs the guard's pistol.  He lets his sister out of jail.  He knocks down another guard.  He puts Constance on his horse and then jumps on behind her.  Two guards fire at them and Edward shoots down one of those guards.  He jumps off his horse and tells Constance to go on without him.  He grabs a rifle of another guard and shoots the man, then sword fights with another guard.  But that guard and two others grab Edward and take him captive.

The guards bring Edward into see Major Bell.  The Major says he is going to hang Edward by the neck on Beverley Green. 

Claire turns to Captain Tom to free Edward.  Tom is not interested in saving a man who will take Claire away from him.  Claire asks him if he betrayed them.  She comes to the conclusion herself that Tom did betray them.  Oh, how could Tom be so vile?  Tom says he told her before that he doesn't like to be used by others. 

Claire walks outside and John Drury hands her the map that shows the place of the ambush.  Beverley's men must leave tonight.  Claire tells John that Edward has been taken, but she will try to get it to Philip.  She then tells John that it was Captain Sylvester who betrayed Edward and the Captain knows about the ambush.  So John tells her that he will take care of Sylvester.  They slit up.  John opens the door to Sylvester's room and Sylvester with his sword gets the drop on John, as the latter only has a knife.  John tries to kill Tom with his knife, but Tom kills John instead.  Now Sylvester shouts out for the guards.  He brings the news of the death of John Drury to Major Bell.  Claire overhears the news and gets very upset.

Claire gets the map to Philip, Jacob and Pablo.  Philip likes the plan, but Claire says it will never work because Sylvester will betray them.  Claire also says they can save Edward from hanging.  Philip asks what about the King?  Claire says the King has no chance because Sylvester will talk.  Philip still says the priority is on saving the King, not Edward.  He must at least try to save Charles. 

The next morning they are ready to hang Edward.  They put the noose around his neck.  At the last second, Colonel Judd arrives and orders that the execution be stopped.  Then he tells Sylvester that he wants to know the name of every man involved with Edward Beverley.  And they can use torture on Beverley to make him talk. 

Sylvester has Edward tied to a post.  Col. Judd tells Major Bell that the royalist underground movement is just that --  a movement.  It is much more than just one man known as the Scarlet Blade.  Moreover, there is a plot to save Charles Stuart and the plan stems from this very district.  Major Bell defends himself by saying he already found out who was feeding information to the Scarlet Blade.  He accuses Captain Sylvester.  

Meanwhile, Sylvester has the torturer start lashing Edward's back. 

Judd gives the order to tell Sylvester to see him immediately.  He now orders Major Bell to go to London to worry them about the planned ambush.  Major Bell leaves and Captain Sylvester arrives.  Judd tells Sylvester that he is under close arrest.  He goes on to say that Sylvester better start spilling off with the name of Edward's collaborators.  Sylvester says the closest collaborator is none other than the Colonel's daughter, Claire.  She was the one who inveigled him into this whole plot.  She ensnared him with the pretext of loving him. And if the Colonel pursues a case against him, he will have to see his own daughter be punished.  Sylvester starts walking out.  Judd calls out to him.  Sylvester turns around and Judd shoots the traitor in the chest.  Sylvester goes down.  Three guards come in and Judd tells everyone:  "Captain Sylvester was shot while resisting arrest."

Now Claire tells her father that unless he releases Edward, she will tell the whole world of her cooperation with the royalists.  Judd knows that will not only condemn his daughter, but condemn himself as well.  He goes over to check on Edward.  He takes a pistol and tells the jailer and another man to get out.  It seems he is going to shoot Edward like he shot Sylvester.  Edward, however, overpowers the Colonel, knocks out one of the jailers that comes running in and escapes.  Claire is there and warns him of another guard.  Edward throws that fellow down the stairs.  On her horse, Claire brings a horse over to Edward.  They get away.  She asks him to run away with her, but Edward will not do that. 

Philip and his men now run into a larger group of Roundheads sent to stop them from going to help the King.  Philip orders an attack.  The roundheads have some cannon that they put to use.  The two groups mostly sword fight with each other.  Philip shows up with Claire.  Edward sees his brother run throw with a sword.  Edward races to his brother.  He just reaches Philip in time to hear him says Edward's name.  He then dies.

Claire and Edward hide with Pablo and his gypsies.  The Roundheads come to the gypsy camp.  Claire and Edward get into costume and put mud on their faces as not to be recognized by the Roundheads.  Col. Judd gets off his horse.  He immediately recognizes his daughter.  He says nothing.  Then he sees Edward.  He says nothing.  He goes over to Pablo and says:  "I advise you gypsies to keep to the forest."  He and his soldiers leave.  Claire and Edward hold each other as the troops ride by. 

 

In this tale of the English Civil War, the villains are the men of Puritan Cromwell.  He has taken over the real power in England.  Siding with King Charles I is the Beverly family: father and the siblings: Edward, Philip and Constance.  So it's the Beverly family against Cromwell's man Col. Judd.  The Beverlys get some help from Col. Judd's daughter Claire.  Complicating the situation is a love triangle involving Claire, Edward and Col. Judd's Captain Tom.  Tom tells Claire that he will be on either side of the conflict, depending only upon which side Claire supports.  His only goal is to get Claire.  When things don't go Tom's way, he becomes willing to betray both Claire and Edward.  It's a good movie with lots of action, but not that much history.  There are better films about the English Civil War. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 

 

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