Black Arrow (1985)

Based on a story by Robert Louis Stevenson, and with a cast including Oliver Reed, Donald Pleasance and the Spanish character actor par excellence, Fernando Rey, Spanish monuments such as the cathedral of Ávila transport us back to the carnage of the Wars of the Roses, and the cathedral is used for the wedding scene and also the cloister scene where Pleasance (Sir Oliver Oates) betrays Reed (Sir Daniel) to Rey (The Earl of Warwick). The walled city of Ávila played the walled city of York.

The castle at Guadamur becomes the hangout of Oliver Reed. The castle is today owned by a Madrid businessman and should technically be open to the public, although it is surrounded by a rather ugly wall to keep out the peasantry, who are only allowed in if they are conveying tithes, victuals or virgins.

The Wars of the Roses, this being a Disney film, are dealt with using all the rigour of serious historical authenticity, which can be summarised as ‘red good, white bad’.

Pedro A Alonso was one of many local people who acted as extras in the film. (He can be seen guarding the castle when one of Reed’s men returns peacocked to death with arrows).

He recalled that the director got infuriated with the extras, who couldn’t help looking at the camera and waving to their friends.