This is rip-roaring stuff, filmed with Hammer's trademark style of efficient economy by director John Gilling back at Bray Studios in 1963. I remember seeing this on its original cinema release with "The Son of Captain Blood" - now there was an exciting double bill! If you want a full account of its making, you could do no better than to consult the relevant pages in Wayne Kinsey's "Hammer Films: The Bray Studio Years". Suffice to say that the story has sufficient intrigue and counterplot to satisfy even the most jaded watcher of historical yarns.
The Civil War background is effectively created and the costumes are a treat for the eye, but the film is essentially a human drama of political intrigue and power struggle between Lionel Jeffries, playing against his avuncular type as the fearsome Colonel Judd, and swashbuckling Jack Hedley as Edward Beverley, the eponymous hero. Hammer favourite Oliver Reed offers a tightly controlled performance but comes to a sad end rather too early. There are some impressive battle scenes and some all-too-real fight sequences that will have you gasping.
Retitled "The Crimson Blade" in the U.S. (why? is 'crimson' better than 'scarlet'?), Optimum and Studio Canal have brought this somewhat forgotten Hammer costume drama back into the public eye, and deservedly so in this splendid Region 2 edition. The transfer is glorious in all its original widescreen glory (actually called Hammerscope!) and the whole thing is 86 minutes of glorious escapist fantasy. No extras, I'm afraid, but there are English subtitles for the Hard of Hearing. Thoroughly recommended for those of us who prefer to stay in rather than join the Sealed Knot!