The Iron Glove

The Iron Glove

Written by Douglas Heyes, Samuel J. Jacoby, Robert E. Kent, Jesse Lasky Jr., and DeVallon Scott
Directed by William Castle

This film is Untouchabullcrap!

One casualty of the modern movie landscape is the dearth of swashbuckler films. Like westerns and original musicals, swashbucklers were a product of an earlier age, the type of stories that we’re told won’t fit in with modern sensibilities. And while the three genres have slowed to a trickle, there are notable examples of all of them in recent years. The flow may not be strong, but it is still bubbling up water.

I wish I could say The Iron Glove was a thirst-quenching example from yesteryear, but, alas, it’s actually rancid gunk not fit for a beast! This is a shame, as director William Castle (House on Haunted Hill, 13 Ghosts, The Tingler) had the ability to craft a good tale, even if he did lean towards theater gimmicks to promote his flicks. The Iron Glove is filled with low production values, the walking scenes and the speaking closeups are so obviously filmed at different times that the viewer becomes uncomfortable and begins to squirm in their seat with unease. Something is wrong, something off. Almost no character moves while talking for the entire film, they walk, stop, closeup, talk.

Let’s not even get into Robert Stack’s accent being all over the map…it’s Irish usually, when he remembers, but sometimes it’s Scottish or it drops out entirely. Robert Stack seems like he’d be a natural for the hero role. Known to people my age as the host of Unsolved Mysteries, to my parents as the guy from The Untouchables, and to kids today as that one guy from Airplane!, Stack was a perfect old school leading man. He looked tough, strong, and the type of guys ladies would swoon for. Playing a super-talented honorable swordsman fighting for a losing cause should be a sure-fire win. But then he opens his mouth and talks with the ridiculous accent, and it all falls apart. Shot under the working title The Kiss and the Sword, producer Sam Katzman had wanted Cornel Wilde for the title role. But he was busy setting up his own company, thus enter Stack, who reportedly wasn’t too fond of this production.

18th century hipsters

The setting for The Iron Glove (please note that I do not recall an iron glove appearing in the film besides the title card) is when James Stuart was battling for the English throne in the 18th century. The setting is one of those historical settings that I don’t think most Americans would have given a crap about, no matter how much Stack tells us how super cool James Stuart is. The historical accuracy is rather thin, though they do get a bit of the basics right, and the Polish Princess Stuart ends up marrying becomes a plot point. But Braveheart this ain’t, the King of England isn’t painted as a crazed psychopath, just a jerk, whose efforts seem based on keeping another jerk from having the throne. The failure to get us to even cheer for the hero’s side is another failure of The Iron Glove.

What The Iron Glove does get right is the use of color. It’s a very bright film, looking a lot like the type of 60s adventures Disney would later make. Producer Sam Katzman wanted Cornel Wilde to play Charles Wogan, but he was busy creating his own production company. Thus, Robert Stack.

Oh, sir, phallic symbol me away!

Captain Charles Wogan (Robert Stack) – Officer in Prince James Stuart’s war for the throne. Loyal to his friend James Stuart as the two grew up together. An honorable man to a fault, which leaves him blind to basic traps.
Ann Brett (Ursula Thiess) – Ann’s father was killed by the Stuarts, so she hates them. But not as much as she loves making out with Charles Wogan!
Prince James Stuart (Richard Wyler) – Heir to the English throne, but cast out via historical reasons that you can wikipedia for yourself. Depicted here as the most honorable man who ever lived, even though other characters mention him killing their families.
Timothy O’Toole (Charles Irwin) – One of Captain Wogan’s buddies, and the greatest drinker in all of Ireland. And that’s a land with a lot of drinkers. Seemingly unaware that he has a Bond Girl name.
Patrick Gaydon (Alan Hale Jr.) – The Skipper! If you ever wanted to see the Skipper in drag while sporting a bad Irish accent, then do I have a flick for you!
Duke of Somerfield (Leslie Bradley) – Duke who is loyal to the crown, but pretends to not be loyal to root out traitors. Which is evil because the traitors are the good guys in this flick. Has orange fluffy boarder on his tricorner hat. His evilness even means he wants to marry the woman he had pretend to be his wife! The fiend!
If you ask me to call you “Little buddy” one more time, the next Unsolved Mystery will be the location of your grave!

Oh, bother, why did I ever agree to be in this flick?

Wogan goes to London to try to raise more supporters, and falls into a very obvious trap when a Duke begins loudly bashing the king and drawing the ire of the palace guards. Wogan steps in to help him in the swordbattle, which results in both of them getting captured. As part of the most complicated plot in the universe, as the Duke is loyal to the king and plots to use a fake wife to go with and escaped Wogan to locate Prince James Stuart so he can be eliminated. All while faking his death so Wogan’s escape will seem legitimate.

And it works, with Wogan getting out of jail and somehow locating Ann Brett and heading to Paris. They’re barely on the tiny boat crossing the channel and they can’t keep their lips off each other.

That’s right, my pants go up to my armpits. How you doin’?
All new widows are overcome with lust on the open sea

The conspiracy gets odder when it turns out the crown loyalists already have a guy in deep undercover next to Prince Stuart, the French Count DuLusac. DuLusac acts so obviously evil that even newborn infants wouldn’t be fooled. And I once convinced a newborn infant to invest in bitcoins. DuLusac begins a parade of fumbling attempts to kill Prince Stuart, all of which are easily foiled by Captain Wogan. Things get more complicated as Ann Brett and Charles Wogan fall deeper in love.

Stuart’s attempts to marry pay off, and a Polish princess he met once long ago agrees to wed and is traveling to Paris. But the Duke returns, he and Ann intercepting the Princess and keeping her captive. Wogan and his elite squad of Timothy O’Toole (a drunk) and Patrick Gaydon (a less drunk drunk) make plans to rescue the princess so she can wed, giving Prince Stuart more royal street cred to continue his war for the throne.

The brief battle sequences have their moments of good fighting, but oftentimes the actors seem like they’re winging it. With all the spoiling we’ve had with well choreographed action sequences, you do have to look at these older films with a filter of the time, but for even then the swordplay just doesn’t look up to the task. Overall, the film is just not constructed well, and the faulty construction makes the whole thing collapse in on itself. Not just a disappointment, a shameful disappointment.

And now Lincoln flips the script on Booth!
This live action Disney’s Beauty and the Beast is missing something…

Rated 2/10 (Before pictures on dartboards were invented!, He’s evil because he’s ugly!)

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Don’t touch me. Don’t display any physical affection.
I’m vaguely historically accurate!

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