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MOVIE REVIEW:The Prince and the Pauper
On paper it's hard to understand why the 1937 version of The Prince and
the Pauper isn't better remembered today lavishly filmed by Warner
Bros. at their peak with Errol Flynn, Claude Rains and Alan Hale
starring, Erich Wolfgang Korngold scoring and Sol Polito lighting for
their Robin Hood co-director William Keighley (with help from an
uncredited William Dieterle when he fell ill) with a literate and witty
script and a real pair of identical twins (Billy and Bobby Mauch) who
can act as well as the script demands, it should be an absolute winner
but instead has to settle for entertaining but a little disappointing
considering the talent involved. Part of the problem seems to be that
'lyrical' pacing that got Keighley replaced by Michael Curtiz on the
Sherwood Forest gig he's so in love with the scenes in the palace
that the film's nearly half over before the Prince suddenly finds
himself a Pauper and Errol Flynn enters the fray as his impoverished
but stylish accidental protector. Indeed, despite his top-billing,
Flynn's a minor supporting player here, all but disappearing from the
film's finale as things threaten to draw to a standstill with what must
be the longest coronation scene in screen history – nearly two reels,
apparently designed to cash-in on the massive international publicity
surrounding King George IV of Great Britain's coronation the week after
the film opened.
At times the film feels both over-written albeit entertainingly so,
with some elegant verbal barbs and under-plotted, lingering so long
in court with the long time a-dyin' Henry VIII (Montagu Love) that it
has to race through much of the Prince's rude awakening to life in the
kingdom his double has inherited. Yet if it wastes its star for much of
its running time, there's some choice-cut villainy from Claude Rains'
would-be Lord Protector and Alan Hale's villainous Captain of the
Palace Guard, here Flynn's enemy rather than his sidekick, and there
are some interesting political machinations and a rare emphasis on the
religious divisions of the time. It may be a couple of rewrites and
some tighter editing away from a classic, but it's still one of the
more entertaining versions of Twain's tale and works well enough for
most of its two hours.
I love "The Prince and the Pauper" and Billy and Bobby Mauch. When they
laugh together, I can't help laughing, too.
I wanted to comment on their enunciation — a charming idiosyncrasy.
They pronounce every "to" with unusual emphasis — like Bette Davis,
who was at Warner Brothers, too!
I was imagining — sheer speculation — that Bette Davis and the Mauch
twins had the same vocal coach who encouraged them to over-articulate.
I also was amused when one of the twins pronounced his family "TU-TOR"
instead of "Tudor."
Still –the movie is delightful.|||
In the slums of 16th century London, young Billy Mauch (as "Pauper" Tom
Canty) makes the most of his life as a beggar; though, he is beaten by
his father, and thrown in the mud. Meanwhile, royal Bobby Mauch (as
"Prince" Edward VI) lives a life of luxury; soon, he will replace
father King Henry VIII on the throne. One evening, Pauper Mauch takes
refuge from a storm on Prince Mauch's palace grounds. The look-alike
boys meet, and strike up a friendship. Prince Mauch invites Pauper
Mauch over to the palace, where the two become intrigued by their
different lifestyles, and identical appearance. After they exchange
clothing, they become separated, by happenstance. When nobody believes
their stories, the boys are forced to assume each other's identities.
This is a well-produced version of the Mark Twain classic. Sadly, the
unevenly paced scenario does not produce the film classic which was,
evidently, possible (considering those involved). The "Mauch Twins" and
Claude Rains (as the Earl of Hertford) are especially strong in their
portrayals; and, Erich Wolfgang Korngold's soundtrack should be noted.
Don't expect to see top-billed Errol Flynn (as Miles Hendon) until
later in the film, as a supporting player. Alan Hale, Barton MacLane,
Henry Stephenson, and Montagu Love are also worth noting; but, the
film's main strengths are Mr. Rains, Mr. Korngold, and the "Mauch
******* The Prince and the Pauper (5/5/37) William Keighley ~ Billy
Mauch, Bobby Mauch, Errol Flynn, Claude Rains
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