The Prince and the Pauper (1937)

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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.


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

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


4 September 2003 | cariart
Twain Classic, with Flynn in Support of the Mauch Twins!
In 1937, the WB, capitalizing on Errol Flynn's spectacular performances in CAPTAIN BLOOD and THE CHARGE OF THE LIGHT BRIGADE, cast him in four films, with varying degrees of success. The best, by far, was William Keighley and William Dieterle's production of the Mark Twain classic, THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER, where he supported new WB 'discoveries' Billy and Bobby Mauch, portraying London urchin Tom Canty and his look-alike, Prince Edward Tudor. The twins were gifted, young (12 at the time of the filming) actors, with a Freddie Bartholomew-like quality of engaging innocence, and they gave this version of the oft-filmed tale a sense of reality that split-screen performances by a single actor could never achieve.

The story is an engaging one, as young Canty, inspired by his mother and a local priest to dream of a finer life than his father, an ill-tempered beggar (Barton MacLane) could provide, sneaks onto the grounds of Buckingham Palace. There, he meets young Prince Edward, who is thrilled to meet a boy his own age...and, after cleaning him up a bit, is astonished to discover that the pair could pass as twins. Edward decides this is a golden opportunity to see what life outside the Palace is really like, so, against Canty's misgivings, the two exchange clothing, and the Prince leaves...creating far more of an uproar than either boy could ever imagine!

Canty is soon considered 'mad', as he insists he is not Edward, and the Prince, abused and ridiculed by Tom's father, is unceremoniously thrown off the Palace grounds when he attempts to return, by a disbelieving Captain of the Guards (Alan Hale, in the first of 11 films he'd make with his friend, Errol Flynn). The ambitious Earl of Hertford (the always brilliant Claude Rains) investigates Canty's claim, and realizes, after interviewing the Captain, that the boy is telling the truth, giving him a golden opportunity to seize power. Ordering the Captain to find and kill the Prince, the Earl then threatens to kill Canty if he doesn't obey his commands.

Things grow desperate for the young Prince, as he attempts to evade his murderous 'father' on the streets, until Miles Hendon (Flynn), a roguish but good-natured 'soldier-for-hire' comes to his aid. Offering his protection to the lad, Hendon thinks him a bit balmy, as well...until events (the child's obvious despair over the death of Henry VIII, the Palace search party, and a sword duel with the Captain, where Flynn KILLS Alan Hale!!!) convince him otherwise. Then it becomes a race against time to smuggle the real King into the Coronation, before Canty is crowned, and the Earl assumes "the Power behind the Throne".

Blessed with a gifted cast, including wonderful character actor Montagu Love as the dying Henry VIII, the film offers a truly exceptional film score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold (who would eventually expand the theme into a symphonic work). Audiences have always been surprised that Errol Flynn's role is not larger, but as a faithful Twain adaptation, the focus had to be on the two boys, and not on the impoverished soldier. Flynn had fun playing Hendon, and the Mauch twins were nothing less than superb as the leads.

With THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD less than a year away, and Errol Flynn's star continuing to ascend, the WB had every reason to celebrate, and THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER is a pleasure to watch, to this day!

Critic Reviews


Did You Know?

Trivia

Freddie Bartholomew was originally considered by MGM for the central dual role. However, real-life twins Billy Mauch and Robert J. Mauch were already under contract with Warner Bros who used them for the Prince and the Pauper when the film was finally shot.


Quotes

Tom Canty: Please, sir, how much longer must I do this?
Earl of Hertford: This is the last, sire.
Tom Canty: "Authorizes an increased tax on windows..." Do you mean to say we have a tax on windows?
Earl of Hertford: May I suggest that your majesty cease troubling himself about...
Tom Canty: But I'm head of the government...


Goofs

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 www.bbfc.co.uk 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.


Soundtracks

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

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Adventure | Drama | Family | Fantasy

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