The Prince and the Pauper (1937 film)

The Prince and the Pauper is a 1937 film adaptation of the 1881 novel of the same name by Mark Twain. It starred Errol Flynn, twins Billy and Bobby Mauch in the title roles, and Claude Rains and has been described as "a kids' fantasy."[2]

The Prince and the Pauper
Directed byWilliam Keighley
Screenplay byLaird Doyle
Catherine Chisholm Cushing
Based onThe Prince and the Pauper
1881 novel
by Mark Twain
Produced byJack L. Warner
Hal B. Wallis
StarringErrol Flynn
Billy and Bobby Mauch
Claude Rains
Henry Stephenson
CinematographySol Polito
George Barnes
Edited byRalph Dawson
Music byErich Wolfgang Korngold
Distributed byWarner Bros.
Release date
  • May 8, 1937 (1937-05-08)
Running time
118 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,691,000[1]

The film was originally intended to coincide with the planned coronation of Edward VIII in 1936. However, its release was delayed until the following year.[3] The film was released on May 8, 1937, four days before the coronation of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth.

The second theme of the final movement of Erich Wolfgang Korngold's violin concerto was drawn from the music he composed for this film.

Plot edit

In Tudor England, two boys are born on the same day in the most different circumstances imaginable. Tom Canty is the son of vicious criminal John Canty, while Edward Tudor is the Prince of Wales and the son of King Henry VIII of England. One grows up in poverty, hungering for something better, taught to read and reason by the wise Father Andrew. The other dwells in isolated luxury, and possesses a strong curiosity about the outside world.

They meet and are astounded by their striking resemblance to each other. As a prank, they exchange clothes, but the Captain of the Guard mistakes the prince for the pauper and throws him out of the palace grounds. Tom is unable to convince anybody except for the Earl of Hertford of his identity. Everyone else is convinced that he is mentally ill. When Henry VIII dies, Hertford threatens to expose Tom—condemning him to a traitor's death—unless he does as he is told. Hertford also blackmails the Captain into searching for the real prince to eliminate that dangerous loose end.

Meanwhile, Edward finds an amused, if disbelieving, protector in Miles Hendon. Hendon's opinion of Edward's story changes after Hertford, fearing for his power if the real king lives, instigates an attempt to assassinate the boy. With Hendon's help, Edward manages to re-enter the palace just in time to interrupt the coronation ceremony and prove his identity. Edward becomes King Edward VI while Tom is made a ward of the new king, Hertford is banished for life, and Hendon is rewarded for his services (one of these being the right to sit in the presence of the king).

Cast edit

Production edit

Warner Bros had Billy and Bobby Mauch under contract, and had used them separately in Anthony Adverse, The White Angel and The Charge of the Light Brigade.[4] The studio announced The Prince and the Pauper as part of their line up in June 1936.[5] (They bought the rights to the story from Twain's estate for $75,000.[6])

Patric Knowles was cast for the role of Miles in October.[7] However Jack L. Warner then decided he wanted someone with a bigger name and asked Errol Flynn to do it.[8]

Reception edit

According to Warner Bros records, the film earned $1,026,000 domestically and $665,000 foreign making it the studio's most popular film of the year.[1]

Frank S. Nugent of The New York Times wrote, "Bobby and Billy justify their twinship completely, not merely by investing the Twain legend of mistaken royal identity with a pleasing degree of credibility, but by playing their roles with such straightforwardness and naturalness that the picture becomes one of the most likable entertainments of the year ... The novel and the screen have been bridged so gracefully we cannot resist saying the Twain and the movies have met."[9] Variety published a negative review, reporting: "The fragile plot scarcely holds together a full length screen play", and suggesting that its running time could have been trimmed at the beginning so Flynn could enter the film earlier.[10] John Mosher of The New Yorker praised the film as "a fine spectacle".[11] Harrison's Reports called it "An excellent costume picture" with "outstanding" performances.[12]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Warner Bros financial information in The William Shaefer Ledger. See Appendix 1, Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television, (1995) 15:sup1, 1-31 p 18 doi:10.1080/01439689508604551
  2. ^ Vagg, Stephen (November 10, 2019). "The Films of Errol Flynn: Part 2 The Golden Years". Filmink.
  3. ^ Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer * Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 54-55
  4. ^ Shafer, Rosalind. (Apr 19, 1936). "Mauch Twins Rising Stars in Film Sky: Scenario Planned for 11 Year Old Veterans of Vaudeville and Radio". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. D4.
  5. ^ "WARNERS TO SHOW 60 FEATURE FILMS: 1936–37 Production Schedule Announced at Convention in Progress Here. GREEN PASTURES' LISTED Seven Other Stage Successes to Be Screened -- Adaptation of 'Anthony Adverse' Ready". New York Times. June 4, 1936. p. 27.
  6. ^ "FACTS ON A FEW OF THE NEW PICTURES". New York Times. May 2, 1937. p. X4.
  7. ^ Schallert, Edwin (Oct 21, 1936). "SIDNEY BLACKMER WILL PLAY THEODORE ROOSEVELT ON SCREEN: Spencer Tracy Re-signed; Gets New Role". Los Angeles Times. p. 15.
  8. ^ Schallert, Edwin (Dec 5, 1936). "ERROL FLYNN CALLED BACK FOR ROLE IN "PRINCE AND THE PAUPER": John Ford to Direct Shirley Temple Film". Los Angeles Times. p. A7.
  9. ^ The New York Times Film Reviews, Volume 2: 1932–1938. 1970. p. 1388.
  10. ^ "Film Reviews". Variety. New York: Variety, Inc. May 12, 1937. p. 12.
  11. ^ "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. New York: F-R Publishing Corp. May 15, 1937. pp. 105–106.
  12. ^ "The Prince and the Pauper". Harrison's Reports. New York: Harrison's Reports, Inc.: 3 May 8, 1937.

External links edit