The Black Archer (1959)
Director: Piero Pierotti
Cast: GÃ©rard Landry, Federica Ranchi, Livio Lorenzon
Synopsis: A young man seeks vengeance for the murder of his father.
When a movie names itself after a character who makes no appearance and is referred to by another name entirely — the Avenging Arrow, no less — you know that not a lot of thought has gone into neither that movie’s title or its plot. The Black Archer starts off suggesting it’s going to be a Zorro wannabe when the father of our hero, Corrardo (Gerard Landry) is stabbed to death meaning that Corrado must go on the run to avoid the same fate. With his father’s assassins in hot pursuit, Corrado exchanges horses with a sultry gypsy girl with a knack for reading people’s futures in a handful of desert sand she carries around in a bag. She predicts an encounter with the Devil’s Hoofbeat, which doesn’t sound too promising, but our hero’s too busy running away to pay much heed.
Those who killed Corrado’s father are impossible to identify because of the tiny black masks they wear over their eyes, but the audience at least is privy to their identities. They’re led by Lodrosio (Livio Lorenzon — The Good, the Bad and the Ugly), whose crippling deformities pretty much make the eye mask redundant, who’s in league with his cousin, the foppish Lodovico (Erno Crisa) in an attempt to wrest power from their uncle. Lodrosio also has a major infatuation for his other cousin, Ginevra (Federica Ranchi), but for some reason she’s not interested in a weirdo with a gimp leg and withered arm.
Anyway, the two cousins hatch a dastardly plot to lure Corrado from his bolt hole by pretending to be his allies in the search for his father’s killers in order to bring peace to the land. Of course, a charismatic hero like the Black Archer isn’t going to fall for a lame plot like that — but our Corrado does. And yet, despite being such a dope, he somehow wins the heart of Ginevra, much to Lodrosio’s distress. In fact, Corrado’s so smitten with Ginevra that he can’t shoot a straight arrow to save his life.
The Black Archer is one of those movies that wins a measure of goodwill simply because it’s clearly trying to deliver an entertaining story on an extremely limited budget, which is painfully apparent from the cheap sets and the way that huge chunks of plot and back stories are filled in with a few lines of dialogue. The acting is terrible, as are the laughably choreographed action scenes, and the leading man is a good twenty years too old for the part of a hero who borders on the inept. The leading lady is absolutely gorgeous, but her face never changes expression regardless of what emotion the script calls upon her to convey. And yet, despite all this, there’s something inherently likeable about The Black Archer; it has the whiff of summer holiday TV and Saturday morning matinees about it.
(Reviewed 23rd July 2014)