MCM: Oliver Reed


Yes, he was a “complicated man” (i.e., “raging alcoholic and unabashed misogynist”), but to overlook Oliver Reed’s contribution to historical film is to leave a giant hole in the history of leading men. He would probably be Item Number One on the #MeToo era list of shitty men, for sure. At least he was upfront about it? I guess I’m trying to find some way to say “You don’t have to like the guy, but he was a major cinematic contributor for forty-odd years and deserves some credit for his work. Plus, I find him hot AF. Fight me.”

(Which, ironically, would have been Reed’s response to pretty much everything.)


The Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960)

Only Timothy Dalton would give Oliver Reed a run for his money in the scenery chewing department.


The Curse of the Werewolf (1961)

Yes, please.

Night Creatures (1962)

I repeat: YES, PLEASE.


The Pirates of Blood River (1962)

Um, no thanks.


The Crimson Blade (1963)

It took me an embarrassingly long amount of time to realize the alternate title is “The Scarlet Blade.” Crimson? Scarlet? Make up your goddamn mind!


The Brigand of Kandahar (1965)

That cleavage is straight out of the 1850s, for sure.


The Debussy Film (1965)

I hate Ken Russell films, but I am seriously tempted to see this one.


The Trap (1966)

Ah, Stockholm Syndrome… So romantic!


Dante’s Inferno (1967)

Tortured artist? That’s basically Sarah kryptonite.


Oliver! (1968)

Consider yourself scarred for life, kids.


Women in Love (1969)

The irony, of course, is that the real love story is about two men who are probably in love but can’t act on their feelings in a healthy, non-toxically masculine way.


The Hunting Party (1971)

Basically a dirt bath with blood, and not a lot of costume content, but someone in the comments is going to be irritated that I didn’t include it here.


The Devils (1971)

If you’ve seen one Ken Russell film, you’ve seen them all.


Fury (1973)

I think I’m going to have to give this one a watch soon.


The Three Musketeers & The Four Musketeers (1973-1974)

Single-handedly responsible for the Great Panty Inferno of 1973.


Royal Flash (1975)

“I say, would anyone care to join me in a game of Gentleman’s Fisticuffs?”


Lisztomania (1975)

I keep forgetting he had an uncredited cameo in this film.


The Great Scout and Cathouse Thursday (1976)

Oh wow, there is so much wrong here that I don’t know where to begin.


Crossed Swords (1977)

I am 99.9% certain I have watched this at some point, intending to Frock Flick it, but I have no actual memory of any of it.


Lion of the Desert (1980)

I don’t think Oliver Reed got the “no capes” memo.


The Sting II (1983)

That is the look of a man who has seen some shit.


Fanny Hill (aka Sex, Lies, and Renaissance) (1983)

Someday I will get around to watching this version of Fanny Hill. If for no other reason than all of the banging bang action.


Black Arrow (1985)

Why weren’t there more films of Oliver Reed set in the early-16th-century? Seems like a glaring oversight.


Christopher Columbus (1985)

I have nothing interesting to say about this film.


The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)

Who can forget the mighty Vulcan?


The Lady and the Highwayman (1989)

I am long overdue to watch this film.


Return of the Musketeers (1989)

Still hot AF as Athos, 25 years later.


Treasure Island (1990)

Well, its not the Muppets, but I guess I could get into it.


The Pit and the Pendulum (1990)

Anyone else getting a strong Terry Gilliam as a Spanish Inquisitor vibe here?

No? Just me?


Prisoner of Honor (1991)

The costumes actually look kind of decent, for an early-’90s made-for-TV-movie.


Return to Lonesome Dove (1993)

Yay, more dirt!


The Bruce (1996)

Bishop of Glasgow and Team Robert the Bruce 4 lyfe.


The Incredible Adventures of Marco Polo on His Journeys to the Ends of the Earth (1998)

“Camel hijinx”

I think the blog Bullet Proof Action put into words exactly why I now need to see this film:

If You Ever Wanted to See … Oliver Reed try to manhandle a couple of camels only in turn to have said camels manhandle (camelhandle?) Oliver Reed, then The Incredible Adventures of Marco Polo on His Journey to the Ends of the Earth is for you. Personally, I can’t get enough of the camel riding hijinks.”


Gladiator (2000)

Reed died during the filming and the movie was subsequently dedicated to his memory.


Love Oliver Reed? Hate Oliver Reed? Want to fight me? Go for it in the comments!

45 Responses

  1. Cheryl from Maryland

    Sarah, had the same reaction when I saw him as an impressionable teenager in 3/4 Musketeers. Hot AF. Which I guess explains why my husband has curly black hair and a spade beard (which I have never seen him without after we met 40 years ago).

    • Sarah Lorraine

      I realized as I was compiling the photos for this post that my boyfriend is basically the Danish version of Oliver Reed. But you know, without the anger issues and 75% less alcoholism.

      I am not unhappy with this revelation.

  2. Mary Ryan

    Your “scarred for life” comment for Reed as Bill Sikes in “Oliver” is spot on. I must have been 7 when my mom took me to see the movie — musical! Dickens! lots of children! — and I have never forgotten how scary Reed’s Sikes was. To this day I can’t help but have a little shiver at the mention of this Dickens character.

    • Melanie

      Indeed. Nancy is my #4 most traumatizing movie death of all time! After Jessica Tandy’s neighbor in The Birds, Neil in Dead Poets Society, and Artax in The Neverending Story (forever my #1). :(…..

  3. Roxana

    I just loved his Athos. And I will never forget he had the best lne in Gladiator; “You sold me queer giraffs!”

  4. Trystan L. Bass

    “If you’ve seen one Ken Russell film, you’ve seen them all.”

    FACT. I know this bec. I’ve seen almost all of them & they are the same.

    • MoHub

      Not only have I seen almost all of the Russell films, I’m also well aware of his warped take on Madama Butterfly for the Spoleto Festival, in which he made Cio-Cio San and Suzuki prostitutes in the 1930s and ended the opera with a montage of the bombing of Nagasaki.

  5. backwardschic

    Love the list! The comments about Reed’s hotness reminds me of a running gag in Oancitizen’s video about The Devils. Whenever he gets confused why all the women in the movie are so into Oliver Reed, he shows a photo of him to one of his female colleagues and they all faint at the sight of him.

    • Lily

      That was what I was wondering! I love that movie! And Diana Rigg is delicious in it.

    • darlenemarshall

      Yes! I was flabbergasted it wasn’t on the list. He is sooooooo hot and enigmatic in Assassination Bureau. Fueled my fervid teen fantasies for a long time.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      Mea culpa. Usually when a film doesn’t make the cut on a Man Candy Monday post it’s because the costumes are either boring or we can’t find images online. In this case, I just straight up missed it… Though to be fair, Oliver Reed was only in like 91823189274289734 movies. I was bound to miss one of them.

    • Jamie LaMoreaux

      I was JUST going to ask about that movie! I love him as Ivan Dragomilov. It’s a wicked fun romp with Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas.

  6. mmcquown

    Always ironic watching him play drunk onscreen. A real Method actor. Robert Newton was another who had a real problem in that area, but he gave us one of the great memes of all time: the pirates’ “Ar ar.” (Treasure Island, 1945) derived from his playing Long John Silver as a Cockney, verbalising a laugh, “har, har.”

  7. Andrew.


    If you wish to borrow, I’ve the DVDs of both Crossed Swords, (aka The Prince and the Pauper), and the 1990 Treasure Island. Crossed Swords is practically the same cast and production team as The 3/4 Musketeers.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      Andrew, I’m 99% certain we watched Crossed Swords at your place one time. I just have no recollection of it other than a vague sensation that I had seen it!

  8. Alys Mackyntoich

    Yeah, Michael York’s D’Artagnan is OK and all, but give me Oliver Reed as Athos any day.

    • Jamie LaMoreaux

      Michael For me autographed my dvd copy of the movies, he signed it with his name and “engarde!”. I want him to sign my Logan’s Run by Ray with Runner! !!!

  9. crypticmirror

    Didn’t he and Christopher Lee get a little too into character on the set of one of the Musketeer movies leading to Lester having to take them aside and remind them that the sword fights were only acting and they were not actually trying to kill each other? I feel sure I read that in an article somewhere.

    I liked him in Hannibal Brooks too, although not even the elephant in that drew as much attention as Reed did.

    • Sarah Lorraine

      There’s a bunch of anecdotal stories about the hijinx that went on with the Musketeers filming, so it wouldn’t surprise me if that were the case. I know Frank Finlay broke something major (ribs? back?) during one of the fight scenes. It must have been intense to be filming that movie with so many legit actors running around.

  10. heratech

    “The Curse of the Werewolf” Oh….my. I suddenly understand how ruffly shirt fronts became a fashion fad.

    The Lester Musketeer movies are some of my absolute favorites. And Reed is a large part of why I love them.

  11. Bea

    And, according the Authorial Word of God…
    Oliver Reed is the physical model for Bujold’s Aral Vorkosigan.

    • J Lou

      I love the Vorkosigan books — and I can see Oliver Reed as Aral. According to Wikipedia, “Aral is described as being below average height, stocky and not particularly handsome, but projecting an aura of power and authority.”

  12. Kathleen Julie Norvell

    I saw “Women in Love” with a bunch of people from my office. I was sitting next to my (male) boss. When Oliver Reed and Alan Bates stripped naked to wrestle in front of the fireplace, I could feel the heat start at my feet and go all the way up my body.

  13. GinaP

    Raging alcoholic and unabashed misogynist? No wonder I was attracted to him. That’s my (unconsciously preferred) type. Probably had anger issues too!

    3/4 M is still my favorite frock flick movie, in no small part because of him.

  14. Nzie

    I know we’re here for MCM but… he’s not my cup of tea (and I think I saw Oliver before I saw any of the rest of these), so I’m going to focus on one flick only: THE STING II?

    Surely no one asked for a sequel to the perfection that is The Sting—and clearly none of the original leads wanted to be associated with it. I found a contemporaneous review from the New York Times… which appears to have been better written than the movie itself. The first paragraph:

    A STING: that’s a trick, a swindle, a con. ”The Sting II” sounds as if it ought to be one, what with Mac Davis and Jackie Gleason in the Robert Redford and Paul Newman roles. However, the casting of these two accomplishes at least one thing for the sequel: it lowers the audience’s expectations that this will be anything on a par with the original. So on that basis, and on that basis alone, ”The Sting II” is better than might have been anticipated.

  15. Roxana

    Can somebody tell me why Oliver Reed is wearing a rather nice lace nightgown in ‘The Devils’?

    • Sarah Lorraine

      He is playing some kind of Catholic cardinal or something who is also sort of a mystic… I’m assuming it has something to do with that. Beyond that, it’s a Ken Russell film and I need to be seriously drunk to find out for certain.

  16. ConsiderTheBees (@Wildfyrewarning)

    I’m an embarrassingly large fan of Black Arrow, given that it has very little to do with the book “The Black Arrow,” or really even the war of the roses. But Georgia Slowe gets some very pretty dresses and Benedict Taylor’s voice is AMAZING, plus Oliver Reed so I watch it all the time.

  17. SarahV

    Not a day doesn’t go by that I don’t think of the nude wrestling scene between Oliver and Alan Bates in Women in Love. I watched it in a film class in college and …. to put it mildly, I couldn’t concentrate for the rest of that day.

  18. Cheryl Farrens

    You missed a favorite of mine. 1968’s The Assassination Bureau with Dianna Rigg and too many others to list. Oliver Reed is hot and humorous. I found it again on Amazon. Well worth it.


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