Swashbuckler movies are movies about rough, manly swordsmen. A swashbuckling hero has high ideals. He rescues damsels in distress. His enemy is usually a dastardly villain. Swashbucklers who combine outstanding courage, swordfighting skill, resourcefulness, chivalry, and a distinctive sense of honor and justice include The Three Musketeers, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Robin Hood, and Zorro.
Swashbuckler movies are one of the most flamboyant Hollywood genres. These movies are unrealistic. They are often set in the Renaissance, in Arabia, or on pirate ships. Sets are elaborate. Costumes are lavish. Swashbuckler movies attract big audiences. These audiences want to forget their boring everyday lives. They can escape their lives in the adventure, romance, and daring stunts of the swashbuckler movie. Famous actors who portrayed swashbucklers are Errol Flynn and Douglas Fairbanks.
The stories came from romantic costume novels like those written by Alexandre Dumas, père and Rafael Sabatini. Last but not least, thrilling music was an important part of the movie formula. There were three great cycles of swashbuckler films: the Douglas Fairbanks period of 1920-1929, the Errol Flynn period of 1935-1941, and a period in the 1950s that included movies such as Ivanhoe. The British television series The Adventures of Robin Hood made the genre even more popular. The genre has been revived in the Pirates of the Caribbean series of movies.