The Prince and the Pauper (1937)

Approved   |    |  Adventure, Drama, Family

The Prince and the Pauper (1937) Poster

A poor boy named Tom Canty and the Prince of Wales exchange identities but events force the pair to experience each other's lives as well.




  • Robert J. Mauch in The Prince and the Pauper (1937)
  • Errol Flynn and Billy Mauch in The Prince and the Pauper (1937)
  • Errol Flynn and Phyllis Barry in The Prince and the Pauper (1937)
  • Errol Flynn in The Prince and the Pauper (1937)
  • Claude Rains in The Prince and the Pauper (1937)
  • Errol Flynn and Elspeth Dudgeon in The Prince and the Pauper (1937)

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13 February 2006 | bkoganbing
| It's Awful in Offal Court
The reign of Edward VI of England would be little remembered if it not were for the writing of this story by an American of all people, Mark Twain. In point of fact Edward Tudor ascended the English throne in 1547, the son of Henry VIII and died six years later, not even reaching his maturity. His reign, such as it was, was marked by a struggle for power by several factions of nobles. That story can be seen in the films Young Bess and also in Lady Jane. There was no happily ever after endings for young Tudor.

At first glance it wouldn't seem possible that Samuel Langhorne Clemens of Hannibal, Missouri could write a classic tale about medieval England. But thinking about it, is the poverty and young Tom Canty's dealing with it in Offal Court all that different from Huckleberry Finn? Is his father, a coarse and brutal man beautifully played by Barton MacLane, all that different from Huck Finn's pap?

Twain knew his characters well and it he had any trouble with getting the idiom just right he need only have looked to Charles Dickens who was writing about just such people a generation before.

The story is simply that Tom Canty, a beggar boy from Offal Court in London gets into the palace of the king and meets up with young Prince Edward. They look alike enough to be twins and in fact they are played by twin brothers Billy and Bobby Mauch. They exchange places and the switch works only too well.

Top billed in the film is Errol Flynn who plays the fictional Miles Hendon, soldier of fortune just returned from the continent. Flynn was the biggest name in the cast, but the film is half over before he makes his appearance. In point of fact, he's really in support of the Mauch twins. It's Flynn's third appearance with sword in hand for Warner Brothers after Captain Blood and Charge of the Light Brigade.

This film also marks Flynn's first film with Alan Hale who appeared in eleven films with Errol. A film wasn't official at Warner Brothers unless either Alan Hale or Frank McHugh was in it. Jack Warner kept both those guys real busy.

Also in the film are Henry Stephenson and Claude Rains who play competing nobles vying to be top man in their minority monarch's reign. As I said unfortunately that marked Edward VI's entire time on England's throne.

But we have Mark Twain in his classic story and the brothers Warner to thank for bringing Edward VI's story to life for generations to come. I wonder if during his short life, young Edward might really have wished to escape what he had, even if it meant a place like Offal Court.

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Did You Know?


William Dieterle filled in as director when William Keighley got the flu. Similarly, cinematographer George Barnes took over as director of photography when Sol Polito fell ill.


Prince Edward Tudor: Are there in any vermin in this?
Tom Canty: So few you'll hardly notice them at all, your highness.


Near the end of the movie Lord St. John rushes to Edward's room to retrieve the Great Seal. As he leaves the room at 1:47:49 without the Great Seal the door is left partially open; in the very next shot of two guards standing at a door, the door is closed. But notice as he comes out that the lines in the floor design run parallel to the length of the hall, but the door to Edward's chamber is at a 45 degree angle with the floor lines. In what appears to be a reaction insert shot at 1:47:53 where the door is closed, the door is parallel to the floor lines, which means this is a different door, further down the hallway along which Lord St. John runs past numerous posted guards.

Crazy Credits

This is not a history, but a tale of once upon a time. It may have happened. It may not have happened. But it could have happened.

Alternate Versions

An advanced search on the British Board of Film Classification site for 'The Prince and the Pauper' lists three times that the 1937 movie was submitted. On 29 Apr 1937 a version on film with 121m 44s run-time submitted for classification by Warner Bros Pictures Ltd was classified U with no cuts. On 17 Apr 2009 a video version (probably on DVD) with 117m 30s run-time submitted for classification by Orbit Media Ltd was classified U with no cuts.


The Roost Song
Written by
Erich Wolfgang Korngold and M.K. Jerome


Plot Summary


Adventure | Drama | Family | Fantasy

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