1 9 5 8 – 1 9 6 0 (UK)
39 x 30 minute episodes
American actor Edmund Purdom buckled his swash through 39 episodes of this costume action-adventure series set in Renaissance Florence, where his Marco del Monte artist-cum-swordsman character led freedom’s battle against the corrupt Duke de Medici (Martin Benson) and his political henchman, Machiavelli (Kenneth Hyde).
The Italian Robin Hood was aided in his noble task by his model (and former pickpocket) Angelica (Adrienne Corri) and his gentle-giant friend, Sandro (Rowland Bartrop).
The polished, imperturbable villainy of Benson’s Duke de Medici and the sinister determination of Derek Sydney’s Captain Rodrigo came satisfyingly close to Sapphire Films’ earlier personification of rampant evil: Alan Wheatley’s viperish Sheriff of Nottingham in The Adventures of Robin Hood.
Sapphire had also produced The Buccaneers (1956-57) and The Adventures of Sir Lancelot (1956-57) for ITC.
The well-tried formula should have been foolproof: elegant costumes and settings, glimpses of historical figures (Machiavelli, Leonardo da Vinci), duel scenes, love scenes, escape scenes and lots of intense manoeuvring and subterfuge.
But, in comparison with similar, contemporary series, Sword of Freedom was a lacklustre piece of period staging, generally lacking in zest and conviction.
Whatever possibilities were latent in this costume drama, the result was so deficient in pace and tension that the viewer could remain quite complacent in feeling that they had seen it all before.
Those contributing scripts included blacklisted (as an alleged Communist sympathiser) American writer Ring Lardner Jr.
Marco del Monte
Duke de Medici
Francesca de Medici