My brother, your father, tells me you are unequalled in your skill at finding things on the Internet, so I have a little task for you. For many years now one swashbuckler film has escaped my clutches “The Lady in the Iron Mask” (1952) directed by Ralph Murphy, and starring Louis Hayward and Patricia Medina, and released through 20th Century Fox.
It hasn’t been released on video or DVD, but it must be out there SOMEWHERE. I’ve scoured nostalgia magazines, done what I could to find it on the Internet, but nothing. I thought someone of your outstanding character and commitment may succeed where (gulp!) I have failed. There will be a reward in it if you can locate it for me.
So, all I can say is “On your bike!”
The Swordsman of the South Seas
This man is entirely a pisser. In his retirement (and indeed long before) he spends much of his day collecting swordfighting films, watching swordfighting films, and creating a giant showreel of the ‘best of’ swordfighting sequences of swordfighting films. He also buys two copies of the old swordfighting books he finds, just in case something happens to the original. And no doubt seizing the crossed sabres he keeps above his doorway and shouting ‘have at thee’ at invisible foes.
As I have a great fondness for the oncle, I have taken his challenge to heart. And for two weeks have been utterly thwarted in my quest! It matters not a bit that it’s not been released. As he says, SOMEONE must have even the dodgiest copy on Beta/Super 8/laserdisc.
(In this picture we see Tor Johnson about to go the mighty grope on Patricia Medina’s heaving bosoms – do you not dig the scenario)
First of all, I hopped onto Google and discovered it’s also a rather nasty looking porno. As well as an episode of Moonlighting, so I had a few blissful moments reminiscing about the 80s, and David and Maddie’s sexual chemistry, in particular the episode where they take off Taming of the Shrew. I also found plenty of links to ‘The Man in the Iron Mask’ these people clearly don’t know the difference between ‘man’ and ‘lady’ – the one that came up the most was the terrible one starring Leo Di Caprio, damn his flaccid performance.
I found many nerds discussing the flick online, which finally led me to a restoration company called Cinetech in California, where it was listed in their ‘to be restored library’. What ho! All emails sent to their president bounced back. Zounds!
Then I found an old news archive – Cinetech had been taken over by something called Ascent Media in 2004. They hadn’t anything on file, but sent me to Hollywood Classics in London. But they sent me a long and very polite apology. Bah, foiled again!
Yesterday I advertised on Freecycle, asking if anyone had an old copy on VHS. I got a letter in clipped tones from their moderator, telling me it was a copyright infringement, and that they had taken my post down. Fiends! I had actually put two posts up by accident, so one must have been up for a short time.
In that time, someone anonymous wrote to me, suggesting I write to Bill Collins in Sydney. Bill’s site was also very polite, but stated that he categorically refuses to answer any questions unrelated to the films he screens on telly. Vile traitor! (I have a signed picture of his, that I got from him in the Chadstone Movieland in the late-80s; we were hard up for entertainment in those days)
So now I have the number of 20th Century Fox in Sydney. I plan to don my leather bodice and sail in through their window, with a knife clenched between my teeth. I’m rather enjoying this whole thing.