Lady in the Iron Mask

I got this e-mail from mon oncle the other week:

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.


12 thoughts on “Lady in the Iron Mask

  1. i would try contacting paul harris from ‘film buffs forecast’ (rrr, as i’m sure you know). the man knows a lot about where to get stuff. i used to love bill collins. my fither and i used to watch his saturday night films every saturday night (until 21 jump street started, that is). my dear fither still has many of those fims on vhs which he watches to this day. some are twenty years old!!!so far as i know, he does not have the lady in the iron mask, but i will ask him when he returns from his interstate jaunt.-mk

  2. That Freecycle moderator must be a right cow. I’ve been completely turned off the whole thing by the periodic emails I get in her ‘clipped tones’ berating the entire Freecycle community for some offence or other. She shits me.

  3. Mk your fither, mine and the uncle would probably get along like many houses on fire. My famille has a copy of the Court Jester of around the same vintage, with an an original review cut out of the paper taped on with yellowing sticky tape.Kateoi – it is easy to upset that mob, for sure. I reckon it’s one of those chicks you see down at CERES always having important ‘meetings’ about some shit or another.

  4. Bibi Boo Ji,He looks like a psychotic leprechaun.This is irrelevent to your search, but if you enjoyed the sexual tension between David and Maddie, what was your reaction to Harrison Ford and Kelly McGinnis in Witness. That was almost a third character that you could touch and feel and all that. At least it left me breathless and…well, I guess I’m not uninhibited enough to publicly finish that sentence.Mai, the SS of SSSjpear iksdua

  5. Mai, he also used to wear these primary colour jackets like a tram conductor. Most amusing!!I do not recall the tension in Witness as I was quite young when I saw it!! All I remember is my parents’ raptures over the barn-raising scene, and the costumes. I think there’s a blog post in that about the sexual tension of various fictional peeps. Particularly of the 80s, o cheese-ridden era…

  6. Oh, I shall – but I have to slink back and borrow it off the parental unit. They will surely laugh and point, as they do because I recall hanging much amusement off thier love of this flick. Dang!

  7. Hi Boo,I have been seraching for this film for over 20 years. I started searching for "Wife of Monte Cristo" 1946 Lenore Aubert where myfencing master was giving her fencing lessons and second film I was looking for was Lady in the Iron Mask 1952. I saw this movie when I was very young in the Philippines. I have been searching for this film for over 20 years. Ihave now in my collection of swashbuckling movies over 300.I wasinformed at one time that this particular film was lost during the war. The information came from a person who was with 20th CenturyFox for a long time until he retired.

  8. Hallo from Norway! Let`s pray we find this movie ! I have an original costume worn by Patricia Medina, and I must have watched all her swashbuckler movies, and did not locate the dress in them. I wonder if it may be from this film, and maybe someone remembers or have a photo of her in it . Let me know! anedrego@hotmail.comArildNorway

  9. Pingback: The clash of steel and the cries of the vanquished | Rebecca L. Stewart

  10. i am looking for a dvd of the lady in the iron mask could you sell me one or could you put me in touch with someone who can i would be eternally greatfull

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