The Prince and the Pauper (1937 film)

The Prince and the Pauper
Directed by William Keighley
William Dieterle (uncredited)
Produced by Jack L. Warner (uncredited exec. producer)
Hal B. Wallis (uncredited exec. producer)
Screenplay by Laird Doyle
Catherine Chisholm Cushing
Based on The Prince and the Pauper
by Mark Twain
Starring Errol Flynn
Billy and Bobby Mauch
Claude Rains
Music by Erich Wolfgang Korngold
Cinematography Sol Polito
George Barnes
Edited by Ralph Dawson
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • May 8, 1937 (1937-05-08)
Running time
118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $858,000
Box office $1,691,000

The Prince and the Pauper is a 1937 film adaptation of the novel of the same name by Mark Twain. It starred Errol Flynn, twins Billy and Bobby Mauch in the title roles, and Claude Rains.

The film was originally intended to coincide with the coronation of King Edward VIII in 1936. However, its release was delayed until the following year.[1] The film released on May 8, 1937, days before the May 12, 1937 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 (Billy Mauch) is the son of vicious criminal John Canty (Barton MacLane), while Edward VI (Bobby Mauch) is a prince and the heir 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.

When they are youngsters, 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. 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.[2] They announced The Prince and the Pauper as part of their line up in June 1936.[3] (They bought the rights to the story from Twain's estate for $75,000.[4])

Patrick Knowles was cast for the role of Miles in October.[5] However Jack L. Warner then decided he wanted someone with a bigger name and asked Errol Flynn to do it.[6]


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."[7] 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.[8] John Mosher of The New Yorker praised the film as "a fine spectacle".[9] Harrison's Reports called it "An excellent costume picture" with "outstanding" performances.[10]

Other works

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 a number of times:


  1. Tony Thomas, Rudy Behlmer * Clifford McCarty, The Films of Errol Flynn, Citadel Press, 1969 p 54-55
  2. Mauch Twins Rising Stars in Film Sky: Scenario Planned for 11 Year Old Veterans of Vaudeville and Radio. Shafer, Rosalind. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963) [Chicago, Ill] 19 Apr 1936: D4.
  3. WARNERS TO SHOW 60 FEATURE FILMS: 1936-37 Production Schedule Announced at Convention in Progress Here. GREEN PASTURES' LISTED Seven Other Stage Successes to Be Screened -- Adaptation of 'Anthony Adverse' Ready. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 June 1936: 27.
  4. FACTS ON A FEW OF THE NEW PICTURES New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 02 May 1937: X4.
  5. SIDNEY BLACKMER WILL PLAY THEODORE ROOSEVELT ON SCREEN: Spencer Tracy Re-signed; Gets New Role Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 21 Oct 1936: 15.
  6. ERROL FLYNN CALLED BACK FOR ROLE IN "PRINCE AND THE PAUPER": John Ford to Direct Shirley Temple Film Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 05 Dec 1936: A7
  7. The New York Times Film Reviews, Volume 2: 1932-1938. The New York Times Company & Arno Press. 1970. p. 1388.
  8. "Film Reviews". Variety. New York: Variety, Inc. May 12, 1937. p. 12.
  9. "The Current Cinema". The New Yorker. New York: F-R Publishing Corp. May 15, 1937. pp. 105–106.
  10. "The Prince and the Pauper". Harrison's Reports. New York: Harrison's Reports, Inc.: 3 May 8, 1937.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/15/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.