The Black Rose (1950)

121 mins | Adventure | September 1950

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HISTORY

According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio bought the rights to Thomas B. Costain's novel in Oct 1945 for $87,500. Writer Richard Tregaskis submitted a draft of the screenplay in Apr 1946. Credited screenwriter Talbot Jennings was then given the assignment, and the extent of Tregaskis' contribution to the released film has not been determined.
       A Jun 1947 NYT news item reported that production of The Black Rose , which was scheduled to start the following month, had been canceled. Producer Louis D. Lighton revealed that production costs had increased 33 percent in little more than a year, while box office returns had slightly decreased. The minimum estimate for production of The Black Rose was $3,200,000, with the possibility that the cost might be greater. At that time, the studio's investment in the film stood at $200,000. It had been decided to delay the project until costs and prospective revenues were in better synchronization. In Mar 1949, a DV news item reported that The Black Rose would start filming in Morocco on 18 Apr 1949, with a budget of $3,000,000, which was one of the studio's highest budgets in recent years. The budget included use of studio funds frozen in post-war Europe.
       The production was based in Casablanca but filmed at locations throughout Morocco, including Meknes, Ouarzazate and Marrakesh. The 110 member crew was almost entirely British and all the technical equipment, construction materials, costumes and props were shipped by air and sea from England. Upon completion of the Moroccan ... More Less

According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio bought the rights to Thomas B. Costain's novel in Oct 1945 for $87,500. Writer Richard Tregaskis submitted a draft of the screenplay in Apr 1946. Credited screenwriter Talbot Jennings was then given the assignment, and the extent of Tregaskis' contribution to the released film has not been determined.
       A Jun 1947 NYT news item reported that production of The Black Rose , which was scheduled to start the following month, had been canceled. Producer Louis D. Lighton revealed that production costs had increased 33 percent in little more than a year, while box office returns had slightly decreased. The minimum estimate for production of The Black Rose was $3,200,000, with the possibility that the cost might be greater. At that time, the studio's investment in the film stood at $200,000. It had been decided to delay the project until costs and prospective revenues were in better synchronization. In Mar 1949, a DV news item reported that The Black Rose would start filming in Morocco on 18 Apr 1949, with a budget of $3,000,000, which was one of the studio's highest budgets in recent years. The budget included use of studio funds frozen in post-war Europe.
       The production was based in Casablanca but filmed at locations throughout Morocco, including Meknes, Ouarzazate and Marrakesh. The 110 member crew was almost entirely British and all the technical equipment, construction materials, costumes and props were shipped by air and sea from England. Upon completion of the Moroccan sequences, the company returned to England to film at Warwick and Allington castles and at Shepperton Film Studios. A scene featuring "Walter" (Tyrone Power) and the "Empress of China" (Madame Phang), is in the film's post-production cutting continuity but was removed just prior to, or subsequent to, the film's release, and Madame Phang does not appear in the finished picture. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design (Color). In a modern interview, actress Leslie Caron stated that she was originally offered the role played by Cecile Aubrey, which would have been her first film role, but turned it down because her mother did not approve of the script. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
Nov 50
pp. 378-79, 394.
Box Office
12-Aug-50
---
Box Office
19 Aug 1950.
---
Daily Variety
21-Mar-49
---
Daily Variety
7 Aug 50
p. 3.
Film Daily
8 Aug 50
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Aug 49
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Aug 50
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
12 Aug 50
p. 433.
New York Times
8 Jun 1947.
---
New York Times
15 May 1949.
---
New York Times
2 Sep 50
p. 11.
Variety
9 Aug 50
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Supv art dir
FILM EDITOR
COSTUMES
Cost des by
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
PRODUCTION MISC
Tech adv
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor col consultant
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Black Rose by Thomas B. Costain (Garden City, NY, 1945).
DETAILS
Release Date:
September 1950
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 1 September 1950
Production Date:
mid April 1949--mid August 1949 in Morocco and at Shepperton Film Studios, London
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
24 August 1950
Copyright Number:
LP1772
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
121
Length(in feet):
10,886
Length(in reels):
13
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
14095
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the thirteenth century, two hundred years after the Norman Conquest of England, a fierce enmity still exists between Saxon and Norman. Saxon Walter of Gurnie is summoned from his studies at Oxford to the late Earl of Lessford's castle. Walter is the earl's illegitimate son, and because he believes that the earl's Norman wife prevented his father from marrying his mother, Walter hates the Normans above all else. Although the will reveals that the earl has left all his major possessions to his wife and lawful son, Edmond, he does acknowledge Walter as his son. He also bequeaths Walter a pair of boots and wills him into the service of King Edward I. When Walter loudly announces his opposition to the Norman king, Edward, who is also present, attempts to end the bitterness between Saxon and Norman and frees Walter of his obligation. Walter then proceeds to Gurnie, his childhood home, where only his grandfather Alfgar now lives. Because he believes the earl acted dishonorably toward his daughter, Walter's mother, Alfgar has sworn never to speak with anyone sharing the earl's blood, including Walter, and will only converse with him through a servant. Walter has been preceded by Friar Roger Bacon, who hopes to persuade him to resume his studies. Although he fails, Bacon mentions the distant land of Cathay, rich in gold and knowledge. Later that night, Walter aids a group of Saxons, led by his old friend Tristram, in a successful attempt to gain the release of some Saxon prisoners from the earl's dungeon. While in the castle, Walter claims his father's boots. In one, Walter finds a letter from his ... +


In the thirteenth century, two hundred years after the Norman Conquest of England, a fierce enmity still exists between Saxon and Norman. Saxon Walter of Gurnie is summoned from his studies at Oxford to the late Earl of Lessford's castle. Walter is the earl's illegitimate son, and because he believes that the earl's Norman wife prevented his father from marrying his mother, Walter hates the Normans above all else. Although the will reveals that the earl has left all his major possessions to his wife and lawful son, Edmond, he does acknowledge Walter as his son. He also bequeaths Walter a pair of boots and wills him into the service of King Edward I. When Walter loudly announces his opposition to the Norman king, Edward, who is also present, attempts to end the bitterness between Saxon and Norman and frees Walter of his obligation. Walter then proceeds to Gurnie, his childhood home, where only his grandfather Alfgar now lives. Because he believes the earl acted dishonorably toward his daughter, Walter's mother, Alfgar has sworn never to speak with anyone sharing the earl's blood, including Walter, and will only converse with him through a servant. Walter has been preceded by Friar Roger Bacon, who hopes to persuade him to resume his studies. Although he fails, Bacon mentions the distant land of Cathay, rich in gold and knowledge. Later that night, Walter aids a group of Saxons, led by his old friend Tristram, in a successful attempt to gain the release of some Saxon prisoners from the earl's dungeon. While in the castle, Walter claims his father's boots. In one, Walter finds a letter from his father, stating that he has left a small cache of gold in a secret place. Walter then determines to leave England with Tris to seek their fortunes in Cathay. Using the last of the earl's funds, Walter and Tris acquire a place on a caravan bringing gifts to the Kahn and guarded by General Bayan. Bayan is greatly impressed by Tris's ability as an archer and by Walter's skill at chess. Later, Lu Chung, the caravan master's servant, asks them to help Maryam, known as the "Black Rose," who wants to escape from the caravan and go to England. When Walter seems disinclined to help her, she maintains that her English father promised her God would provide a miracle to convey her to England, and she believes Walter is that miracle. Walter scoffs at her desire, but Tris speaks feelingly of the country's great beauty. As they near China, Bayan wages a brutal attack, killing men, women and children. Tris is sickened by this, so when Bayan moves south into China, Walter helps Maryam and Tris to escape. As punishment, Bayan sentences Walter to a trial by gauntlet, which he survives. Bayan then sends Walter as an emissary to the Chinese empress with orders to persuade the Chinese to surrender in the face of Bayan's great strength. At the palace, Walter finds Maryam and Tris. The Chinese believe that the presence of two "pale gods" fulfills an ancient prophecy and portends China's success in battle. While the war rages, Walter discovers the many advances China has made, including the manufacture of paper, printing and gunpowder. When the Chinese continue to lose their war against Bayan, however, Walter and Tris are threatened with death. By now, Walter and Maryam are in love. One night, wearing jewel-laden clothing and carrying samples of Chinese books, a compass and gunpowder, the three head for the river. They are ambushed before they reach safety, and Walter uses the gunpowder to clear their way. Tris is fatally injured in the explosion, and while Walter attempts to save him, he and Maryam become separated. Much later, Walter returns penniless to England, so delighting his grandfather that he forgets his vow never to speak to him. Walter recounts his adventures and reveals that he has left the Chinese inventions with King Edward. Later, the king arrives at Gurnie and Walter admits that Tris's love for England persuaded him that he is English first and Saxon second. Edward knights Walter and presents him with a coat of arms that contains a longbow in honor of Tris. To make his happiness complete, some of Bayan's warriors then appear with Maryam and the jewel-filled jacket he left behind in China. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.