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The Prince and the Pauper (1937)

The Prince and The Pauper. Feature film. (1937, 118 mins) IMDB

...a fun story children would enjoy...

L

ondon, England, 1537. The queen gives birth to a boy and the kingdom rejoices especially Henry VIII. In another part of town, another boy is born. His father moans because there's another mouth to feed. Quite a contrast of circumstances.

Flash forward 10 years. The young prince is getting used to the idea of becoming king. His father is ill. The young beggar boy gets a slap from his cruel father and runs away. He ends up at Windsor castle (I doubt it existed then, but perhaps. Just checked. It did.).

The prince and beggar boy meet each other and play games including a scene where they switch clothes. Once this happens, the rest of the story is in place. The prince is kicked out of the castle for being a beggar boy and the beggar boy lives in the castle as prince and then king.

When the fake prince tells everyone who he is, they laugh and assume he's mad. When the prince tells everyone who he is, they all laugh and assume he's mad. The boys are stuck in lives they don't want.

It get worse for the boys because the greedy Hertford (Raines) discovers the boy is telling the truth and likes it. He likes it because he can control the fake prince for his own ends, something he couldn't do with the real prince as king. Hertford tells the Captain of the King's guards to find the real prince and kill him.

Less than 100 years ago, a beggar boy wouldn't know how to read or write while a prince would. How to solve such a dilemma? Our beggar boy in the setup is befriended by a priest who teaches him to read and write. If it weren't such, he wouldn't know how to hold a quill, let alone use it--something a prince and king would know.

The life for Tom in the castle isn't so bad. Clean clothes, food etc. Not so for the prince. The father locates him and beats him and drags him home. When the father accidentally kills the priest, the father must run away and takes the boy with him. His father is a thief, thug, murderer. That he should die is no surprise.

Flynn is charming and handsome and dashing. Just as you'd expect. He wears a cape and carries a sword (épée?).

When he spends an evening at the Inn, a barmaid shows him favouritism as if to say, let's get it on and he obliges except since this is a family movie and it was made in 1937, it's a subtle scene.

Flynn uses his sword to fight the King's guard sent to kill the prince. He fights the evil father. He fights and fights. The sword zipping and slashing. It's what you'd expect.

While Flynn is saving the prince from death, the castle readies for the coronation of their new king. The young beggar boy is going to be king. Act III is on.

Flynn and the prince have to make it back, have to get past the guards, have to convince the court he is the rightful king. The beggar boy does his part. He's not standing in the way. It all enfolds as it should.

The prince is back where he should be. He gives protection to the now orphaned beggar boy. He rewards our hero Flynn and he banishes Rains from England.

In one final note that I'm sure would piss off conservatives, he passes to laws to outlaw slavery and other injustices seen in the film. The prince learnt a thing or two about his country while away from the castle.

The film falls into the category of a well-made film. There's nothing missing and it stands up to this day.

The costumes were elaborate. A large cast. A three-act structured story that works. It seems a bit tame by today's standards, but the movie is 72 years old.

Posted 2009/05/03 at 20h46ET in Movie Commentary.

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