Dangerous Exile

Dangerous Exile is a 1957 British historical drama film directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and starring Louis Jourdan, Belinda Lee, Anne Heywood and Richard O'Sullivan. It concerns the fate of Louis XVII, who died in 1795 as a boy, yet was popularly believed to have escaped from his French revolutionary captors.[1]

Dangerous Exile
"Dangerous Exile" (1957).jpg
Directed byBrian Desmond Hurst
Produced byGeorge H. Brown
Earl St. John
Written byRobin Estridge
additional dialogue
Patrick Kirwan
Based onnovel A King Reluctant by Vaughan Wilkins
StarringLouis Jourdan
Keith Michell
Belinda Lee
Richard O'Sullivan
Music byGeorges Auric
CinematographyGeoffrey Unsworth
Edited byPeter Bezencenet
Rank Organisation Film Productions
Distributed byJ. Arthur Rank
Release date
12 December 1957 (UK)
10 October 1958 (US)
Running time
91 minutes


In 1795, the Duke Philippe de Beauvais smuggles his own son into the prison cell where Louis XVII is kept. Thus Louis XVII can escape unnoticed to England. Unfortunately the aerostat, steered by Duke Philippe de Beauvais, lands accidentally on a remote island. There an American spinster, Virginia Traill, takes care of the strange child. She finds the dauphin profoundly traumatised and not interested in becoming a king. Meanwhile, Louis' uncle in Vienna has declared himself the new French king. In order to safeguard his claim on the throne, he sends assassins who shall murder the dauphin.

Being unaware of the exchange, he has Richard de Beauvais killed. But now the dauphin's torturers recognise they have been deceived. Informed by a message of an English spy they send a ship to the island where the real dauphin hides. They attack the house of Virginia Traill and stop at nothing to detect the dauphin's hiding-place.



The film was based on the novel A King Reluctant by Vaughan Wilkins which was published in 1952.[2] The New York Times called it "a rousing, colourful tale and historically convincing."[3]

In February 1956 Rank announced A King Reluctant would be their expensive historical picture for the year with location filming to be done in Italy, Spain and the West Indies. Sir John Davis of Rank said "We cannot copy Hollywood's spectacular epics but we can provide good stories well-made - that is the answer to television competition."[4]

The female lead went to Belinda Lee.[5]

The film was shot in Pinewood Studios and on location in Cornwall in April 1957.[6] Lee was injured when her hair caught fire during a scene.[7] Vyvyan Holland, son of Oscar Wilde, worked on the film as a historical adviser.[8]


The Manchester Guardian called the film "monstrous twaddle" with "just one merit - its beautifully colored photography".[9]

Variety called it "a historical, cloak and dagger meller with all the . typical excitements, absurdities, confusions, flashbacks, swordplay and general trimmings which invariably rear their cliche-ridden heads in such pictures. It won’t stand out in the memory of patrons as one of the best pix this year, but it will provide safe entertain¬ment at most British cinemas."[10]

The New York Times called it "a beautifully mounted tale" which "rarely comes to life, except in the superb, effectively colored period settings... Under Brian Desmond Hurst's rather unimaginative direction, the action simply lacks sustained suspense, instead of crawling with it... The lavish, meticulous castle interiors, the sweeping, azure-tinted coastal landscapes, and the murkiness of the Paris dungeons — all these have been woven into a striking background tapestry by Jack Maxsted, the art director."[11]


  1. ^ David Sterrit, "Dangerous Exile", Turner Classic Movies accessed 26 January 2014
  2. ^ Recent Novels B W. The Irish Times 13 Dec 1952: 6.
  3. ^ Royal Refugee: A KING RELUCTANT. By Vaughan Wilkins. 315 pp. New York: The Macmillan Company. $3.50. Holden, Raymond. New York Times 22 Mar 1953: BR26. ,
  4. ^ Mantle of Korda falls on Rank now Author: Christopher Lucas Date: Friday, Feb. 17, 1956 Publication: Daily Mail (London, England) I
  5. ^ Vagg, Stephen (7 September 2020). "A Tale of Two Blondes: Diana Dors and Belinda Lee". Filmink.
  6. ^ Dangerous Exile at Louisjourdan.net
  7. ^ "Star's Hair Ablaze From Candle". The Canberra Times. 31 (9, 154). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 27 April 1957. p. 3. Retrieved 20 July 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  8. ^ Sir Hartley's Sister Picks Husband No. 3 Author: Paul Tanfield Date: Tuesday, Mar. 19, 1957 p 12
  9. ^ EALING TEAM NEEDS A REFRESHER Our London Film Critic. The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 14 Dec 1957: 3.
  10. ^ Review of film at Variety
  11. ^ Review of film at The New York Times

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