The Prince & the PauperWhy did Errol Flynn get first billing for this movie? Because he could! By 1937, it seemed that anything he was cast in made a hit with the moviegoing public, be it a costume adventure like CAPTAIN BLOOD, a period soap opera like CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, or a sappy melodrama like THE GREEN LIGHT. He was in an excellent position to make demands. If he hadn't, then most likely Claude Rains would have received the honours.
The TRUE stars in this adaptation of Mark Twain's classic are The Mauch Twins. Billy & Bobby Mauch enabled Warners to execute such a film without the nuisance and awkwardness of special effects. The talented duo were a godsend. The true co-star - if I may be so bold - is a marvelous score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The end result was a playful little adventure film which one could take the kids to see for a Saturday matinee and enjoy it right along with them.
The story is about abused beggar boy Tom Canty, who is spared a beating by the Captain of the Guard and invited by young Prince Edward into the castle to play. They switch garb for fun, amazed by their mutual resemblance. When the ragged prince ventures out in search of his dog, the captain beats him and throws him into the street.
Tom Canty awakens to find himself heir to the throne. Members of the court believe the hysterical prince is delirious, all save the nefarious Earl of Hertford, who arranges for the captain to hunt down and kill the true Prince. When the king dies, Tom is coerced into doing Hertford's bidding.
L to R: Bobby Mauch as Prince Edward, Errol Flynn as Miles Hendon, and Billy Mauch as Tom Canty.
Meanwhile, Edward befriends a soldier of fortune (Flynn). Miles Hendon tolerates the waif's lofty manner and takes him in for the night. In the morning, Tom's father - who has murdered a priest - takes Edward with him out of town. In his pursuit of the two, Hendon overhears the Captain of the Guard and his men discussing their plans to murder Edward before the youth can interfere with his doppelgänger's coronation.
Errol & buddy Alan Hale first appeared together in THE PRINCE & THE PAUPER, so although this may be a modest film when compared to Flynn's classic period vehicles, it is considered a milestone by Flynn fans. Both Hale and Director William Keighley met up with Errol Flynn next for the production of THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD.
This movie is available on video from MGM/UA in both sickly pastel colorized and glorious B+W editions. Although the colorized version may help one to better discern the details of a crowded throne room during an otherwise dull coronation sequence, the quality of this execution under Turner Entertainment leaves MUCH to be desired.
As shown in this production still, the Mauches shared both roles;
Flynn & director Keighley observe at right.
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