|The Prince and the Pauper|
|Directed by||William Keighley|
|Screenplay by||Laird Doyle|
Catherine Chisholm Cushing
|Based on||The Prince and the Pauper|
by Mark Twain
|Produced by||Jack L. Warner|
Hal B. Wallis
Billy and Bobby Mauch
|Edited by||Ralph Dawson|
|Music by||Erich Wolfgang Korngold|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
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."
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. 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.
In Tudor England, two boys are born on the same day in the most different circumstances imaginable. Tom Canty (Billy Mauch) is the son of vicious criminal John Canty (Barton MacLane), while Edward Tudor (Bobby Mauch) is the Prince of Wales and the son of King Henry VIII of England (Montagu Love). One grows up in poverty, hungering for something better for himself and his family, the other in isolated luxury, with 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 (Alan Hale, Sr.) 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 (Claude Rains) of his identity. Everyone else is convinced that he is mentally ill. When Henry VIII dies, Hertford threatens to expose Tom unless he does as he is told. Hertford also blackmails the Captain into searching for the real prince to eliminate the dangerous loose end.
Meanwhile, Edward finds an amused, if disbelieving protector in Miles Hendon (Errol Flynn). An attempt to assassinate the boy on the instigation of the Earl of Hertford, who fears for his power if the real king lives, changes Hendon's opinion of Edward's story. 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.
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. The studio announced The Prince and the Pauper as part of their line up in June 1936. (They bought the rights to the story from Twain's estate for $75,000.)
Patric Knowles was cast for the role of Miles in October. However Jack L. Warner then decided he wanted someone with a bigger name and asked Errol Flynn to do it.
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.
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." 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. John Mosher of The New Yorker praised the film as "a fine spectacle". Harrison's Reports called it "An excellent costume picture" with "outstanding" performances.
The Prince and the Pauper is a novel by Mark Twain with Edward VI of England as the central character. This fictional narrative has been adapted to film many times: