Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Prince and The Pauper

The Prince and the Pauper (1937) was directed by William Keighly and William Dieterle and was based on the novel of the same name by Mark Twain. The movie stars Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, and Billy & Bobby Mauch.

In Tudor England in 1537, two boys are born on the same day under very different circumstances. Tom (Billy Mauch) is born in the slums of Tudor to a vicious criminal John Canty (Barton MaClane). While Edward (Bobby Mauch) is born a prince and the heir of King Henry VIII (Montagu Love). Tom grows up in poverty, begging for food and Edward grows up in luxury, with a curiousity of the outside world. As Tom grows up, he studies with Father Andrew and dreams of a life apart from the beggers and thieves that surround him.

One night, when Tom hides in the palace yard to escape a driving rain, the two boys meet, realize there is a striking resemblance between them, and playfully exchange clothes. But the Captain of the Guard (Alan Hale Sr.) mistakes the prince for the pauper and throws him out of the palace grounds.

Tom is unable to convince anybody that he is not the prince. Everyone is convinced that he is mentally ill. When Henry VIII dies, Tom is scheduled to take the thrown. Tom finally convinces except for the Earl of Hertford (Claude Rains) of his identity. Hertford threatens to expose Tom unless he does as he is told. Hertford hopes to be appointed Edward's Lord High Protector and seizes the opportunity to control the throne by forcing Tom to continue the pretense. Hetford Hertford also blackmails the Captain into searching for the real prince to eliminate the dangerous loose end and orders the murder of the real Edward.

Meanwhile, Edward finds an amused, if disbelieving protector in Miles Hendon (Errol Flynn). Edward is horrified when John Canty kidnaps him from Miles and Edward witnesses John murder the beloved Father Andrew. John runs to hiding taking Edward with him and Edward in the process learns alot about the people of England.

The Captain finds Edward and attempts to assainate the boy. He is rescued by Miles and Miles engages in a sword fight with the Captain. With Miles help, Edward manages to re-enter the palace just in time to interrupt the coronation ceremony and prove his identity. Tom is made a ward of the new king, and Hendon is rewarded for his services.

This movie has a great cast and is a marvelous film. Billy and Bobby Mauch are delightful as the Prince and the Pauper. Claude Rains is pure evil as the Earl of Hertford. Errol Flynn is adorable as Miles Hendon.

I highly recommend this film.

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