East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


A coin tossed from the bridge

I have mentioned in the past the movie Le Bossu (On Guard for the English-speaking markets), a fine French swashbuckler from twenty years ago that I like very much and used to watch every time it passed on TV hereabouts, and now have on DVD and watch at least once a year.
Great action, fine story, excellent cast.
Great movie, watch it!

Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

In the movie, the main character, Lagardere, recalls the time when, as a Paris street urchin, he had developed a stunt that allowed him to make some money: he would ask the passers-by to toss a coin in the Seine, and he would dive behind it from a bridge, and retrieve it as it sank in the water of the river.
He even had a short rhyming song, to hook the punters.

Needless to say, Lagardere’s skill of diving from bridges and disappearing under the surface of the river will come handy later in the story.

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Swashbuckler is not dead: On Guard, 1997

ThreeMusketeers_w302_5077Two days ago I had to suffer through some pretty asinine observation about swashbuckler fiction, by a lady that claimed that swashbucklers, being sad violent misogynistic poorly written drivel without a decent female character, had fizzed out and died, and good riddance.
The Three Musketteers? Gone and forgotten, with all the rest of the rubbish that poor hapless hack Dumas published.

To which I begged to differ, of course, but my opinions did not carry – apparently – enough weight in that refined circle.

For sure, I find it hard to believe that someone would pronounce the swashbuckler genre dead while at the same time enthusing about the Pirates of the Carribean franchise.

But that’s fantasy

… was the dismissive remark.

In a desperate attempt at defending the genre – which I happen to love – I finally summoned a movie, one of my all-time faves, based on a swashbuckler novel that represents the perfect defensive argument. It’s a story set in Paris and in France at large, and it’s about a hunchback… Continue reading