Saturday Night Cinema: If I Were King (1938)

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Tonight’s Saturday Night Cinema feature is “If I Were King” starring Ronald Coleman. Coleman plays a man who’s a vagabond poet, philosopher and rogue rises to high office in 1463 Paris as he by chance kills the king’s traitor and is ordered to replace him…as Grand Constable of France! But there’s a catch… (more here)

Paramount made a happy choice in deciding to turn out a new version of the adventures of Francois Villon. Ronald Colman’s delineation of the adventurous poet-philosopher is excellent, carrying through it a verve and spontaneity for an outstanding performance. Basil Rathbone brilliantly handles the difficult assignment of the eccentric, weazened Louis XI.

By Variety Staff

Ronald Colman Basil Rathbone Frances Dee Ellen Drew C.V. France Henry Wilcoxon

Paramount made a happy choice in deciding to turn out a new version of the adventures of Francois Villon. Ronald Colman’s delineation of the adventurous poet-philosopher is excellent, carrying through it a verve and spontaneity for an outstanding performance. Basil Rathbone brilliantly handles the difficult assignment of the eccentric, weazened Louis XI.

Preston Sturges has provided much sparkling dialog [from the play by Justin Huntly McCarthy] to greatly enhance entertainment.

After quickly establishing Villon as the hero and leader of the Paris mobs, events bring him and the king together. Appointed grand constable of France and Brittany by the mischief-conniving Louis, in the palace Villon champions the people against the king and his arrogant advisers – to the amusement of Louis. But the latter soon tires of his amusement with Villon, and is ready to put him on a gibbet.

Newcomer Ellen Drew handles the difficult role of Huguette, girl of the slums, for one of the outstanding performances. Interpretation of Katherine by Frances Dee is delivered with sincerity.

If I Were King

Production: Paramount. Director Frank Lloyd; Producer Frank Lloyd; Screenplay Preston Sturges; Camera Theodor Sparkuhl; Editor Hugh Bennett; Music Richard Hageman; Art Director Hans Dreier, John Goodman

Crew: (B&W) Extract of a review from 1938. Running time: 100 MIN.

CAST:

  • Ronald Colman … François Villon
  • Basil Rathbone … King Louis XI
  • Frances Dee … Katherine DeVaucelles
  • Ellen Drew … Huguette
  • C.V. France … Father Villon
  • Henry Wilcoxon … Captain of the Watch
  • Heather Thatcher … Queen
  • Stanley Ridges … Rene de Montigny
  • Bruce Lester … Noel de Jolys
  • Alma Lloyd … Colette
  • Walter Kingsford … Tristan l’Hermite
  • Sidney Toler … Robin Turgis
  • Colin Tapley … Jehan Le Loup
  • Ralph Forbes … Oliver le Dain
  • John Miljan … Grand Constable Thibaut D’Aussigny
  • William Haade … Guy Tabarie
  • Adrian Morris … Colin de Cayeulx
  • Montagu Love … General Dudon
  • Lester Matthews … General Saliere
  • William Farnum … General Barbezier (He starred as Villon in the first, silent film version of “If I Were King (1920)).
  • Paul Harvey … Burgundian Herald
  • Barry Macollum … Storehouse Watchman
  • May Beatty … Anna
  • Winter Hall … Major Domo
  • Francis McDonald … Casin Cholet
  • Ann Evers … Lady-in-Waiting
  • Jean Fenwick … Lady-in-Waiting

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