Crossed Swords (1954 film)

Crossed Swords is a 1954 Italian made swashbuckler film starring Errol Flynn and Gina Lollobrigida.

Crossed Swords
Crossed Swords (1954 film).jpg
1954 theatrical poster
Directed byMilton Krims
Vittorio Vassarotti (Italian edition)
Piero Mussetta
Produced byJ. Barret Mahon
Errol Flynn (uncredited)
Vittorio Vassarotti (Italian edition)
executiveJohn W. Bash
Written byMilton Krims
StarringErrol Flynn
Gina Lollobrigida
Cesare Danova
Music byGino Marinuzzi
Alessandro Dicognini
CinematographyJack Cardiff
Edited byDerek Hawkins
Vittoria Vassorotti (Italian edition)
Errol Flynn Productions
Viva Films
Distributed byTitanus (Italy)
United Artists
Release date
29 July 1954
Running time
82 minutes
United States
Box office1,331,794 admissions (France)[1]

It was also known as Il Maestro di Don Giovanni ("The Teacher of Don Juan") and The Golden Blade.[2]


The film is set in medieval Italy, in the duchess of Sidona. Raniero and Renzo are two friends who have been travelling together for two years, having adventures, fighting duels and womanizing. Raniero is the son of the Duke of Sidona, and the elder Renzo his Don Juan-type mentor.

On their way back to Sidona after a two-year absence, Renzo and Raniero encounter Fulvia, a former lover of Renzo. She attacks him then invites him to her estate.

Fulvia's rich husband Gennarelli is at a meeting at Sidona. Pavoncello, the Duke's counselor, is suggesting a new law where all men under twenty must marry and produce children or face imprisonment. (The aim is to ensure future manpower to defend the duchy). The Duke is unsure whether the law is what the people want and refuses to sign it until he consults them.

Gennarelli returns to his estate and surprises Renzo and his wife. The two men fight a duel which Renzo easily wins. Renzo and Raniero head to the castle where the Duke welcomes them. The Duke's daughter, Francesca, regards Renzo as a bad influence on her brother but is attracted to him.

Fulvia arranges a joust with Indian sticks between Renzo and Pavoncello, who wants to marry Francesca. Both men are wounded and the duke stops the contest.

Gennarelli approaches Pavoncello, suggesting he use the proposed law to drive Renzo out of Sidona. Gennarelli and Pavoncello join forces to persuade the Duke to sign the law.

Renzo flees Sidona with Raniero. Pavoncello hires an assassin, Lenzi, to kill Renzo and Raniero. It is revealed Pavoncello wants to take over Sidona and surrounding areas as well; he arranges Lenzi to hire two hundred mercenaries.

Renzo and Raniero are eating in a tavern when attacked by Lenzi's men but they defeat them. They return to the castle and overhear Fulvia talking to Gennarelli about the latter's plan with Pavoncello.

Renzo and Raniero are captured. Lenzi's mercenary army enters Sidona, and imprisons the Duke and Francesca.

Fulvia helps Renzo and Raniero to escape. They manage to rescue the Duke and Francesca and lead an uprising. Francesca uses the women of Sidona to seduce Lenzi's mercenaries. This enables Renzo to kill Lenzi, and for Raniero to raise the Duke's loyal supporters in rebellion. Renzo kills Pavoncello in a sword duel.

Renzo agrees to marry Francesca.




Milton Krims announced he was to write and produce a film called The Ninth Man in 1950 based on a 1920 novel by Mary Heaton Vorse set in Italy in the fifteenth century.[3]

In 1952 it was announced Krims would make The Ninth Man with Errol Flynn in the lead for Constellation Films with J. Barrett Mahon to act on Flynn's behalf behind the scenes.[4]

In January 1953 it was announced Flynn would star in Teacher of Don Juan, a co production between Errol Flynn Enterprises and Vittorio Vasserotti.[5]

Flynn produced the film in association with Barry Mahon in an attempt to emulate the success of The Adventures of Don Juan (1948), which had sold well in Europe on its release by Warner Bros.. John Bash helped Flynn finance the film.[6]


Filming took place in Italy in February 1953. It was shot at Cinecittà Studios in Rome with exteriors shot in the village of Lauro.[7][8]|author=It was the first role for Gina Lollobrigida beyond the Italian market, and her fee was 30 million lira (est. $48,000).[2] She made it immediately before Beat the Devil.[9]

The movie was shot in Pathecolor, a new color process developed by Pathe Industries.[10]

It was known during filming as The Master of Don Juan or Teacher of Don Juan.[11]


During a screening of the film in New York, a woman in the audience killed herself.[12]


The Chicago Daily Tribune said the film "offers very little interest" apart from the photography.[13]

Filmink magazine wrote "The most frustrating thing about the movie is that it's full of good ideas... but they don’t develop any of them."[14]

Box officeEdit

Box office reception was disappointing – Flynn later claimed the film was sold "very badly".[15] Dorothy Kilgallen later wrote that Flynn's share from the film "amounts to quite a pile of bills" but he never received the money because "they're all Washington-bound to defray his staggering tax debt."[16]


The experience prompted Flynn to try another production in Italy, the disastrous William Tell. Shortly after the shoot Flynn's wife gave birth to a baby girl.[17]


  1. ^ 1954 French box office figures at Box Office Story
  2. ^ a b Schallert, Edwin (Sep 20, 1953). "Gina likes U.S. only as a place to work". Los Angeles Times. p. D1.
  3. ^ Schallert, Edwin (July 26, 1950). "Drama: Artist's Story Inspires Anglo-American Deal; Keith Writes Western". Los Angeles Times. p. A7.
  4. ^ "REPUBLIC TO MAKE FILM ON GABRESKI: Flying Ace May Play Himself in Picture Based on Story by Richard Tregaskis". 30 July 1952. p. 19.
  5. ^ "Record Number of Co Productions in Italy This Yr". Variety. 21 January 1953. p. 14.
  6. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (Oct 22, 1954). "Pasternak Names Next Jane Powell Musical; Robbins Scores Twice". Los Angeles Times. p. B9.
  7. ^ "Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer & Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 196".
  8. ^ Berg, Louis (Aug 16, 1953). "MOVIES ON THE MOVE!: Did Hollywood create a Frankenstem by making films abroad? Today cameras are grinding like mad in Italy, France, England--and Hollywood's plenty scared MOVIES ON THE MOVE!". Los Angeles Times. p. I14.
  9. ^ Jacks, Allen (Mar 1, 1953). "No. 1 in Europe, Gina Throws Curves at U.S.". Los Angeles Times. p. D4.
  10. ^ "FINANCIAL AND BUSINESS SIDELIGHTS OF THE DAY". New York Times. Apr 15, 1954. p. 45.
  11. ^ Schallert, Edwin (Feb 15, 1953). "CinemaScope and 3D Rivalry in Full Swing; Henreid to Direct Play". Los Angeles Times. p. X5.
  12. ^ "WOMAN KILLS SELF IN MOVIE THEATER". Los Angeles Times. Dec 25, 1954. p. 2.
  13. ^ TINEE, MAE (Oct 11, 1954). "Gina Gets Her Man in Film: "CROSSED SWORDS"". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. b17.
  14. ^ Vagg, Stephen (November 30, 2019). "The Films of Errol Flynn: Part 5 – On the Bum, 1950–1955". Filmink.
  15. ^ Scheuer, Philip K. (Mar 4, 1956). "Errol Claims He's Now in Like Flynn With Creditors". Los Angeles Times. p. E2.
  16. ^ Dorothy Kilgallen (July 31, 1954). "Rubi Ready to Ditch Zsa-Zsa?". The Washington Post and Times Herald. p. 4.
  17. ^ "Errol Flynn Gets Baby Girl for Christmas". Los Angeles Times. Dec 26, 1953. p. 8.

External linksEdit