Lawrence Ellsworth’s Cinema of Swords Arrives Next Week

Lawrence Ellsworth’s Cinema of Swords Arrives Next Week

Cinema of Swords by Lawrence Ellsworth (Applause, June 15, 2023)

Next Thursday is a big day in the Black Gate offices, as the most anticipated book of the year finally arrives: the hardcover edition of Lawrence Ellsworth’s monumental Cinema of Swords.

What’s in this great beast of a book? Every one of Lawrence’s informative and entertaining Cinema of Swords columns from Black Gate — Over four hundred movies and television shows featuring swashbucklers: knights, pirates, samurai, Vikings, gladiators, outlaw heroes like Zorro and Robin Hood, and anyone else who lives by the blade and solves their problems with the point of a sword — pus full-color stills, poster reproductions, a handy index (both Title and Subject), and plenty of fascinating sidebar articles by Lawrence, covering topics like The First British Invasion (50s swashbuckling TV series from ITV) to Wholesome Buccaneers (family-friendly pirate ) and Mighty Maciste (the roving strongman of two dozen films of the 60s-era post-Hercules peplum craze).

In his book announcement right here at Black Gate, Lawrence ran through the contents for us, indexed by genre:

Arabian Adventures — 22 titles about Sinbad, Ali Baba, and other heroes from the Arabian Nights, several versions of The Thief of Bagdad, and some wacky parodies we covered in articles like “Goofballs in Harem Pants.”

Barbarians and Hordes — 27 entries covering Mongols, Tartars, Huns, Cossacks, and the fantasy offspring of Conan the Barbarian from the ‘80s “Barbarian Boom.”

Cavaliers and Musketeers — 97 titles, including heroes such as the Three Musketeers (a dozen versions), the Scarlet Pimpernel, Cyrano de Bergerac, the Count of Monte Cristo, Don Juan, the Prisoner of Zenda, and many more. Swashbucklers all!

Gladiators and Classical Heroes — 44 titles, including lots of films about Hercules and other shirtless muscleman “peplum” adventures, heroes of Greece and Rome such as Jason and the Argonauts and Ulysses, and gladiators from the sublime (Spartacus) to the ridiculous (Colossus and the Amazon Queen).

Heroic Fantasy — One of the largest categories at 70 titles, and the films of probably the greatest interest to Black Gate readers, including favorites like Excalibur, Ladyhawke, Dragonslayer, Time Bandits, The Princess Bride, and Krull.

Knights and Feudal Warriors — 61 titles, including Arthurian epics, various Ivanhoes and other knights in shining armor, in a range extending from Shakespearean drama in Henry V to the shenanigans of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Outlaws and Rogues — 57 titles, including a whole lot of Robin Hood and Zorro, plus the Corsican Brothers, Rob Roy, Harry Flashman, and The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh.

Pirates and Sea Dogs — 48 titles, not just Blackbeard, Long John Silver, Captain Kidd, and their keelhaulin’ ilk, but also The Sea Hawk, Sir Francis Drake, and Captain Horatio Hornblower. Avast!

Samurai and Ninja: Feudal Japan — 85 titles, including Kurosawa’s classics such as Seven Samurai and Yojimbo, plus series like Lone Wolf and Cub, Zatoichi, The Crimson Bat, and Daimajin (samurai vs. kaiju!).

Vikings, Saxons, and Danes — 17 titles, from classics like The Vikings and The War Lord to horned-helm travesties such as The Norseman and Viking Women and the Sea Serpent.

Wuxia: Chinese Fighting Heroes — 15 titles of armed historical martial arts, including hard-hitting features such as One-Armed Swordsman, Killer Clans, and Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain.

I was delighted to be asked to provide the publisher with a back-cover blurb. Here it is.

Cinema of Swords is the adventure lover’s guide to the streaming era. More than just an invaluable reference book, it’s a browser’s delight, with insightful, informative, and frequently laugh-out-loud entries on hundreds of swashbucklers, from Captain Blood to The Golden Voyage of Sinbad to Hawk the Slayer. It’s a pleasure to read, and the one truly indispensable movie book of the last five years. Don’t miss it.

Cinema of Swords will be published by Applause Books on Thursday, June 15th. It is 384 pages, priced at $50 in hardcover and $48.50 in digital formats.

It gets our highest recommendation.

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Joe H.

Can’t wait!

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