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Swashbuckler Defends Scantily Clad Women

Hello, she’s Pam Anderson. It’s her job to be inappropriate.

We don’t usually do rants on Swashbuckler’s tales, but there is an ongoing anomaly in our society that I have to address here. I just viewed a video about celebrities over the age of 40 dressing “inappropriately” and I have to say: is this Victorian England? Should older women cover up their entire bodies in unattractive dresses, preferably of a somber color?

This video must be seen to be believed. A couple of what I suppose are C-list talk show hosts sit in bed in their pajamas discussing fascinating current topics such as holiday shopping on e-bay, then they start talking about celebrities dressing “inappropriately.” The word “inappropriate” was said at least five times. “Isn’t this inappropriate?” “Yes, it’s so inappropriate!” and so forth. They sounded like some sort of pompous dickensian villains. Personally, I think they’re just jealous that at forty-something Pam Anderson has a very nice physique. She certainly has nothing to be ashamed of, whereas these two… who knows what they’re hiding under their pajamas?

I suppose having grown up with Baywatch I have a certain affinity for Pamela Anderson. I like that she has a sense of humour about herself. She is one to be mocked, not chided.

Anyways, then they bring kids into it. “What do her children think?” Who cares what her children think! It’s none of our business. Also I’m sure the children are aware of what the human body looks like. I always find it strange when people feel the need to shield kids from seeing the human form. If anything, it’s going to make them suspect there is something wrong or shameful about their bodies and could create issues for them in the future. Do these pajama-wearing bowdlerians ever take their kids to the beach? And if so, do they make them avert their eyes? “Close your eyes, kids, everyone is dressed inappropriately here!”

No mention of men dressing inappropriately was ever made. Not that it should be. I think everyone should have the right to dress however they want without being judged. It’s a free country!

And how interesting is it to listen to a couple of catty people agreeing with each other? They could have at least introduced a third character, maybe someone wearing a bathrobe and arguing in favor of the scantily clad celebrities in the manner of a socratic debate.

With so many other worthy causes to write about, I’m not sure why this seemingly minor one should make me angry enough to write a whole blog post, but I guess it’s because there’s a creepy underlying injustice to this attitude towards women. And it often comes from other women!

Seriously women, we’re all on the same side here.

I hardly ever watch TV so I sometimes get these glimpses of pop culture through the internet. I guess this is what entertainment is like nowadays… It makes me glad I live under a rock!

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Swashbuckling Movies: Honorable Mentions

Earlier, I made a list of my 10 favorite swashbuckling movies. These are the ones I really wanted to put in my list, but they don’t entirely fit the bill…

Some films listed here are not actually swashbuckling movies in the pure sense, but rather were selected because they reflect the swashbuckling spirit and contain duels, adventures, and daring rescues. Also, some of them are parodies… but as with James Bond films, sometimes it’s hard to see the fine line where a swashbuckling film becomes a parody of itself.

Zorro the Gay Blade

Spanish nobleman Don Diego Vega is on his way to a costume party, when he witnesses injustice being commited upon the peasants. Thus he becomes the defender of the oppressed. An ankle injury puts him out of commission, but his long-lost twin brother “Bunny” is happy to step in to the Zorro costume, to which he adds his own special touch, opting for plum, sacrlet and yellow outfits. “There is no shame in being poor! Only in dressing poorly!”

The Scorpion King – More of a “swords and sandals epic,” it nevertheless has that je ne sais quoi that makes me want to categorize it as a swashbuckler. It’s probably the overall optimism and humour that sandal epics aren’t known for.

Streets of Fire – In a weird dystopian world that looks a lot like 1950s America, a rock star is kidnapped, and her ex-boyfriend is called in to rescue her. He is a tough guy, an ex-soldier, and  a self-described “tequila man.” (There is some kind of connection between 80’s action movies and swashbucklers which should probably be explored in a later post.) This is an obscure film that didn’t do too well at the box office but it has a cult following that consists mostly of myself. Lots of action and great music, and a sledgehammer duel as a finale!

Mad Dog Time – This movie is set in some alternate universe run by gangsters who enjoy listening to their alternate universe equivalent of Frank Sinatra. There is also a very strange mode of dueling in this world. The main character would seem sleazy if he were not so daring, charming and charismatic. Sound like a swashbuckler?

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Top 10 Swashbuckling Movies

This is my personal selection of top swashbuckling films. One of my obvious favorites is the Princess Bride, but I already did a post on it recently. I’ve chosen a few lesser known ones (at least lesser known in North America) and classics that I found particularly appealing, and although Hollywood has often mucked up its attempts at swashbuckling, a few worthy tinseltown films have made the list.

Les Trois Mousqetaires (The Three Musketeers)

three-musketeers-swashbucling movieThis French 1961 screen adaptation is the best there is! It’s mostly accurate as compared to the novel, except maybe a little more over the top. D’Artagnan has a crazy habit of jumping out of windows, and there’s also a tremendous bar fight with tables, shelves, and everything in between used as weapons. This film really inspired a lot of my writing… now you can see where the wackiness comes from.

Les Maries de L’An Deux (English title The Swashbuckler)

“Nicolas Philibert goes to America after killing a French aristocrat. On his return he tries to divorce his wife, Charlotte, but when he sees others trying to woo her his own interest is rekindled.”

This is the ultimate swashbuckling adventure starring Jean-Paul Belmondo, who gallivants around Revolutionary France insulting and fighting Royalists and Revolutionarists alike while trying to woo his wife.

Scaramouche

Scaramouche-swashbuckling-movieHere’s another story of someone who doesn’t give a damn about the French Revolution but becomes entangled in politics while pursuing the woman of his dreams. Our swashbuckler is an actor, hiding his identity behind the mask of Scaramouche, a buffoon of the stage. In the meantime, he takes fencing lessons that will enable him to seek revenge on a haughty marquis. Based on Rafael Sabatini’s novel, which begins, “He was born with the gift of laughter  and a sense that the world was mad.”

The Mark of Zorro

“The film is based on the story The Curse of Capistrano written by Johnston McCulley, originally published in 1919, which introduced the masked hero Zorro. The story is set in Southern California during the early 19th century. – Wikipedia

This is, for my money, the best Zorro movie ever. It perfectly captures the concept of the double identity and includes a great fencing scene. Accoring to Wikipedia, ” In 2009, it was named to the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant and will be preserved for all time.”

Zorro (1975)

This is another awesome Zorro movie starring French heartthrob Alain Delon. Famous swordsman Diego sees his friend Miguel assassinated right before his eyes. He finds out the name of the killer, but before he dies Miguel makes him swear not to take revenge by bloodshed. Diego journeys to Nueva Aragona and takes Miguel’s place, posing as the new governor. He fights injustices in the Zorro disguise, but without killing anyone, how will he take revenge against the evil colonel who killed his friend? With the addition of an eccentric aunt, a mute servant, a rebellious young lady, and a Great Dane who all join the cause of justice, this is an awesome Zorro extravaganza! And this is the super-catchy opening theme song:

The Scarlet Pimpernel

This is kind of a Zorro story in reverse. Sir Percy Blakeney, a wealthy aristocrat, has an alter ego as the Scarlet Pimpernel, a hero who rescues nobles from the guillotine in Revolutionary France. When not in the guise of the Scarlet Pimpernel, he pretends to be a fatuous fashion monger, as in this scene, where as one YouTuber aptly described it, Sir Percy PWNS the chief agent of the Committee of National Security.

Cutthroat Island

This is a very entertaining pirate film with a female lead (hurray!). Also, it was a huge box office flop. I don’t understand why it flopped; it’s probably some latent sexism on the part of mass audiences who believe a woman pirate who means business and has a pet monkey is not a realistic figure. Of course, history begs to differ. There were plenty of female pirates, some were captains of ships.

Anyways, the story is basically about a treasure hunt, romance, and revenge, all good pirate motivations.

Count of Monte Cristo

An innocent sailor becomes the victim of a political conspiracy and is imprisoned on false charges. Many years later, he escapes from the seemingly inescapable island prison of Chateau d’If and finds a priceless treasure. Then he begins to wreak revenge on his enemies!

Unlike the usual Hollywood attempt at a classic novel, this one is actually an improvement on the book! It’s much more jolly. Purists will probably not agree, but for my taste the book was too long-winded.

Fanfan la Tulipe

An ambitious young man is told his fortune by a gypsy… she tells him he will join the army, win glory and marry the king’s daughter. Although the gypsy is not a real fortune teller, Fanfan starts believeing in his destiny, and when he happens to rescue the princess of France, it seems all the predictions are about to come true…

Fanfan la Tulipe is a character from French folklore and song. He’s represented with great humour and swashbuckliness here by Gerard Philipe. If you’re going to watch Fanfan la Tulipe, this movie version from 1952 is much better than the 2003 one.

Pirates of the Carribean

The first film in the series really added something fresh and new to the swashbuckling genre, (the sequels are so lame I will not even talk about them here…) The good thing is, the series really revived people’s interest in pirates! It also originated some classic lines such as “Why is the rum gone?!”

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It’s not exactly swashbuckling…

The King of the Yukon breaks out of the cage!

My friend and fellow blogger Joanne has recently admitted to a dark secret… she enjoys watching wrestling! Coincidentally, I too have fallen under the spell of this vulgar and bizarre spectacle that is the ECCW (Elite Canadian Champtionship Wrestling). I was walking along the street one day, when I saw that the doors to a usually quiet community center were open, and something was going on in there. Men and women in strange spandexy outfits were fighting! I realized that aside from answering such important questions as “Do dolphins rape people?” I must also delve into the phenomenon that is wrestling. After all, the swaggering and fighting components make it a close cousin of swashbuckling.

Remember that old WWF commercial that went: “It’s not exactly opera… It’s not exactly art…” Regardless, wrestling is a sort of art form. Each wrestler has his own personality and an over-the-top character that he or she portrays. The age-old battle between good and evil is reenacted here, and who is to say that it’s not as good as any of the finest acting on stage or screen?As Shakespeare’s Theseus wisely stated in Midsummer Night’s Dream: “The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them.” In other words, even the best acting is imitation. There is no such thing as a good or bad show, good or bad acting — it’s our imagination that makes the spectacle.

And speaking of Shakespeare, it’s that play-within-a-play aspect that really makes it exciting for me. In the small live venue where I last watched the wrestling, the audience gets to take part in the action. A couple of times, we had to push our chairs back, trying to get out of the way of the fighters as the combat spilled out of the ring. Another time, audience members argued with the managers, insulted the “bad guys,” or provided a running commentary. When a “baddie” stood atop the ropes showing off his abs, someone from the audience shouted “It’s a 4-pack!” Another time, when the crowd was cheering on its favorite, the King of the Yukon, by chanting “Yukon! Yukon! Yukon!” a lone voice exclaimed, “It’s the best kind of potato!”

It may not be exactly opera, but feeling that you’re part of the action is what great art is all about.

The Finale!