IL SEGRETO DELLO SPAVIERO NERO , aka The Secret Of The Black Falcon
(Italy 1961) starring LEX BARKER, LIVIO LORENZON, and WALTER BARNES
directed by Domenico Paolella
No time for a long review of this one. I’ve wanted to see it for some time and finally found a B&W pan-and-scan copy, presumably taken from a 16mm print for American TV. It’s a bit light in some places, a bit dark in others, but (as I mentioned in the review of GUNS OF THE BLACK WITCH) this is the way Americans would have seen this film back in the day, so I can pretend it’s 1974 and I’m catching this at 1 a.m. on a UHF station.
Fans of Lex Barker will want to check this out. It has a certain wit to it, and Barker (although he’s not dubbing his own voice, the person who is manages to capture his rhythms and general tone adequately….I remember reading an interview 30+ years ago with some American actor who’d worked in Europe who mentioned that whoever dubbed his films listened to recordings of his voice and tried to imitate it somewhat) has some genuinely funny scenes, particularly the drunken scene which announces his arrival in the film.
It’s also nice to see him teamed with Livio Lorenzon, usually a villain, as partners. The two men seem to have a genuine rapport and good humor about them (spoiler alert: they do for the first 3/4 of the film!). Also, Walter Barnes is a lot of fun as a pirate leader, Calico Jack, and he too has some good comic scenes with Barker and Lorenzon, although the film is not really a comedy–just a light-hearted adventure (speaking of Barnes, whoever dubbed him does a bit of a James Mason impression, Mason playing a pirate that is, which brings a smile to my face).
There is a German DVD of this, which I presume IS in color and widescreen. I suppose I should get a multi-region player, with my taste in European genre films of the 50’s and 60’s and 70’s, but buying those DVD’s would be a black hole money-wise. Better to trade for DVD-r’s and buy them cheaply from “grey market” sources.
People who have a fetish about dubbing will not want to see this film. While the voices do fit the characters (which often DOES NOT happen, so I’m thankful for that here), they are not synced well. That does not bother me, but it might you….although I suppose if you are a regular reader of the film pieces here at the KSE blog, it probably will not!
The plot here is one common in crime films and westerns—-where an officer of the law (in this case, a Spanish officer, Lex Barker) is convicted of a phony offense as a show, badmouthed by the powers-that-be, stripped of his position, and sent out into the world with a ruined reputation. He then eventually gets in with the criminals in order to get an “inside” view of their operation.
With its interesting locations, interesting production design, ornate costumes, lots of action, and a good amount of humor—-and a colorful, charming performance from Lex Barker (and from Lorenzon and from Barnes)—-had I seen this way back when, it would have become one of my favorite Lex Barker films and I would have talked it up for decades. Better late than never….
nice to know that this film played in Turkey!
ps, I’ve watched a number of films directed by Domenico Paolella, maybe 6 or 7, in the last few months–in fact, he directed GUNS OF THE BLACK WITCH (which according to the IMDB was made just before this), mentioned above, which I reviewed here recently, and I have a review of GOLIATH AT THE CONQUEST OF DAMASCUS coming out at BTC in a few weeks. Sr. Paolella passed away in 2002, but I hope wherever he is in the afterlife, he knows that his films are continuing to entertain audiences all over the world. Thank you, sir. I wish we could have split a bottle of wine together and talked films….
If you’d like a good brief summary of Lex Barker’s European film career, you should read this: http://www.searchmytrash.com/articles/lexbarker(1-06).shtml