Cast & Crew
In early Britain, Sir Ontzlake of King Arthur's court arrives at the Earl of Yeonil's castle with news that Viking raids are continuing against Camelot. Before meeting Yeonil, Ontzlake greets respected sword maker John. Later in private, Yeonil and Ontzlake express unease over the motives of King Mark, who has offered an alliance with Arthur against the Vikings. Meanwhile, the earl's daughter, Lady Linet, visits John in the forge and insists that their class difference cannot change their feelings for each other. Yeonil discovers John and Linet in an embrace and regretfully orders John from the castle with money and a horse. Ontzlake encourages John to win Linet by becoming a knight as Ontzlake did years earlier. Just after John follows Ontzlake to Camelot, the Vikings raid Yeonil's castle, and John returns to defend the family, only to witness the brutal murder of Lady Yeonil and the earl's savage beating by an assailant, who then laughs aloud in triumph. When Lady Yeonil's killer and the Viking leader bolt from the attack, John gives chase, but Linet believes he is fleeing in fear. John sees the pair change into royal garb, and follows them to Camelot, where Arthur, Mark and the court are celebrating the Feast of Pentecost. John bursts in on the banquet with news of the attack on Yeonil and accuses Saracen Sir Palamides of leading the raid and his servant Bernard of Lady Yeonil's murder. After Arthur reveals that Bernard is a deaf-mute and orders John's arrest, Ontzlake reminds Arthur that at Pentecost, everyone is allowed a "boon," or special request. Arthur grants John three months to prove his accusations against Palamides, threatening death should he fail. Later in private, Palamides and Mark discuss their plot to overthrow Arthur and take control of Britain. Palamides rebukes Bernard for carelessly speaking aloud during the attack, thereby jeopardizing his useful position at Camelot. Meanwhile, John accompanies Arthur to the ruins of Yeonil Castle, where they find Linet caring for the bewildered, beleaguered aarl. Linet is dismayed to see John and refuses to speak with him. The next day back in Camelot, Arthur sees Mark off and evades an assassination attempt arranged by Palamides. When John tries to join the knight training school, Palamides mocks him, spurring Ontzlake to tutor John privately. After weeks of training, Ontzlake presents John with a fine horse and the famed Sir Lancelot's original armor, and cautions John to act with restraint against Palamides. Ontzlake then sends John off to make a name for himself in knightly confrontations. John fashions Lancelot's old armor into a new black suit and, without divulging his identity, defeats one of Arthur's newest knights, Sir Hal, in a jousting contest. Hal reports to Arthur of the Black Knight's fighting prowess and regal bearing, prompting Palamides' suspicions. Later, when Palamides tries to provoke John to fight in front of Linet, John recalls Ontzlake's caution and refuses, convincing Linet that he is a coward. Mark returns to Camelot for the celebration of the opening of the new church, but like Palamides, is apprehensive about the peoples' enthusiastic support of Christianity. The ceremony is broken up by a Viking attack, secretly arranged by Mark, in which several monks are killed. John, as the Black Knight, rides off to summon Arthur's knights, as Linet, the abbot and the remaining monks are taken by the Vikings to the mysterious rocks of Stonehenge, where they are readied as sacrifice. Arthur, John and the knights arrive in time to rescue Linet and the clergymen and destroy Stonehenge. Linet is overjoyed to learn that John is the Black Knight, and they are reunited. Later, in order to lure the Black Knight, Palamides kidnaps Linet and demands to know the Black Knight's identity, suggesting that he led the Viking attacks. When Linet refuses to cooperate, Palamides orders Bernard to torture her. Learning of Linet's kidnapping, the Black Knight comes to her rescue, arriving in time to hear Bernard shout when Linet attacks him with a knife, before fainting. As Linet cannot support John's accusation that Bernard can speak, Ontzlake tells John that his identity as the Black Knight will soon be known and that he must get proof of Mark's treason. With the aid of a sympathetic insider, John infiltrates Mark's castle and overhears Mark and Palamides' plan for the invasion of Camelot while casting blame for the Viking raids on the Black Knight. Later, at Arthur's court, Palamides presents Arthur with the Black Knight's shield and accuses him of treason. When the Black Knight arrives in court, Arthur has him arrested and imprisoned, but Linet helps him escape. John tells Ontzlake about Mark's attack plan, then slips into his castle and forces Mark back to Camelot. The dawn of the day of the invasion, Palamides orders Bernard to assassinate Mark after the attack commences. Bernard sneaks into Mark's chambers and stabs the sleeping figure, then triumphantly declare Palamides' victory. Unknown to the servant, Arthur, John and the other knights are hidden in the room and hear his remark, which clears John at last. Arthur leads a counter assault on Mark's attacking Vikings and banishes them. John is formally knighted by the king and receives Arthur's pleased consent to wed Linet.
Albert R. Broccoli
Phil C. Samuel
J. G. Smith
The Black Knight
Capably helmed by director Tay Garnett, the narrative casts Ladd as John, a humble swordsmith whose love for the beautiful Lady Linet (Patricia Medina) has served to spur her father, the Earl of Yeonil (Harry Andrews) to end the affair. John's strength of character however, has won him a backer in the person of the commoner-born noble Sir Ontzlake (Andre Morell), who encourages him to win a knighthood, and in succession, the lady fair. A subsequent raid upon the Earl's castle by mysterious brigands results in the death of Linet's mother; though John comes upon the raid and sets off in chase of the attackers, Linet mistakenly believes he is fleeing in cowardice.
John tracks the killers to Camelot, where they doff their Viking disguises and stand revealed as the Saracen Sir Palamides (Peter Cushing) and his servant Bernard (Bill Brandon). The attack on Yeonil was merely part of a grander conspiracy with King Mark (Patrick Troughton) to ensure the overthrow of Arthur (Anthony Bushell). Counseled by Ontzlake that the best means of uncovering the traitors is by covert action, John accepts his offer of private tutelage in the arts of combat. Soon, a helmeted, black-garbed warrior is making a name for himself before the court with derring-do that serves to undermine the schemes of Palamides and Mark.
In his memoir Light Your Torches and Pull Up Your Tights, Garnett offered fond reminiscences of Ladd, whom he had also directed in Wild Harvest (1947). "He was generous, gentle, considerate, possessed of both a fantastic screen personality and a delightful spontaneous wit," the director wrote. "He wasn't the tallest man ever to face a camera, but he was superbly built--an Atlas in miniature. Like many a talented man who feels Nature has shortchanged him, Alan had a hangup about his height. When he did a scene with a big guy, Bob Preston, for instance, we laid down planks three inches high for Alan to stand on. Those planks were the equalizer."
The exotic looking British actress Patricia Medina, who had been Ladd's leading lady a year earlier in Botany Bay (1953), heaped similar praise upon her virile if vertically challenged colleague in her autobiography, Laid Back in Hollywood. "They say certain actors made love to the camera. In Alan's case the camera made love to him," the actress recalled. "He was shy, introverted, almost ashamed of being a top-notch actor, but regardless of with whom Alan was playing a scene, the camera seemed to seek him out (without instructions or demand from Alan) and kiss him so that he jumped on the screen and all the elements seemed to be whispering, 'Star, star!'"
Producer: Irving Allen, Albert R. Broccoli, Phil C. Samuel
Director: Tay Garnett
Screenplay: Alec Coppel, Bryan Forbes, Dennis O'Keefe
Cinematography: John Wilcox
Film Editing: Gordon Pilkington
Art Direction: Alex Vetchinsky
Music: John Addison
Cast: Alan Ladd (John), Patricia Medina (Linet), Andre Morell (Sir Ontzlake), Harry Andrews (Earl of Yeonil), Peter Cushing (Sir Palamides), Anthony Bushell (King Arthur).
by Jay S. Steinberg
The Black Knight
The working title of the film was Lochinvar. Early news items stated that the film was to be an adaptation of Sir Walter Scott's Lochinvar; however, the completed screenplay retains only a few of the details from Scott's work. The film was shot on location in London and Madrid, according to contemporary news items. According to contemporary news items, Columbia initially planned to produce the film but transferred production to their British associate, Warwick Film Productions, Ltd., while retaining the distribution rights.
Released in United States Fall September 1954
Released in United States Fall September 1954