If I Were King

If I Were King

Infobox Film
name = If I Were King

image_size = 150px
caption = VHS cover
writer = Justin Huntly McCarthy
"(novel & play)"
Preston Sturges
starring = Ronald Colman
Basil Rathbone
Frances Dee
director = Frank Lloyd
producer = Frank Lloyd
cinematography = Theodor Sparkuhl
editing = Hugh Bennett
distributor = Paramount Pictures
released = 11 November 1938
runtime = 101 minutes
country = FilmUS
language = English
music = Richard Hageman
Milan Roder
budget =
gross =
imdb_id = 0030265

"If I Were King" is a 1938 biographical historical drama film starring Ronald Colman as medieval poet François Villon, and featuring Basil Rathbone and Frances Dee. It is based on the 1901 play and novel, both of the same name, by Justin Huntly McCarthy, and was directed by Frank Lloyd.


King Louis XI of France (Basil Rathbone) is in desperate straits. He is besieged in Paris by the Burgundians and suspects that there is a traitor in his court. He goes in disguise to a tavern to see who accepts a message from the enemy. While there, he is amused by the antics of poet François Villon (Ronald Colman), who has stolen food from the royal storehouse. The rascal criticizes the king and brags about how much better he would do if he were in Louis' place.

The traitor is revealed to be Grand Constable D'Aussigny (John Miljan), but before he can be arrested, the turncoat is killed in a brawl by Villon. As a jest, Louis rewards Villon by making him the new Constable, though the king secretly intends to have him executed after a week.

His low-born origin kept a secret, Villon falls in love with lady-in-waiting Katherine DeVaucelles (Frances Dee) and she with him. Then Louis informs Villon about his grim fate. Villon escapes, but when the Burgundians break down the city gates, he rallies the common people in routing them and lifting the siege. Having had to put up with Villon's impudence and wanting less aggravation in his life, Louis decides to permanently exile him from Paris. Villon leaves on foot, with Katherine following at a discreet distance in her carriage.


Cast notes:
*William Farnum, who plays "General Barbezier", starred as Villon in the first, silent, film version of "If I Were King" made in 1920.
*Darryl Hickman made his film debut in this film in the uncredited role of a child.
*Sidney Toler went on to achieve fame with his portrayal of "Charlie Chan" in a number of films.


Nine months in France were required to prepare for "If I Were King", and the French government cooperated by allowed a replica to be made of the Louvre Palace throne.TCM [http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=78958&category=Notes Notes] ]

Whether Preston Sturges, who at the time was Paramount's top writer, had a collaborator in writing the script is unclear: some early drafts have the name "Jackson" on them as well as Sturges', but the identity of "Jackson" has not been determined. In any event, Sturges finished a draft by February 1938. The final screenplay included Sturges' own original translations of some of Villon's poems. [Eder, Bruce [http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:96239 Plot synopsis (Allmovie)] ]

The film was in production from 12 May to mid-July fy|1938TCM [http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=78958&category=Overview Overview] ] . Ralph Faulkner, who played a watchman, acted as stunt coordinator and coached the actors on swordplay, and about 900 extras were used for the battle scenes, one of which was cut by the director after the film had opened.Miller, Frank [http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title.jsp?stid=78958&category=Articles "If I Were King" (TCM article)] ] The film was marketed with the tagline: "His Love-Making was as Dangerous as His Sword-Play". [IMDB [http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0030265/taglines Taglines] ]


"If I Were King" was nominated for four Academy Awards:
* Supporting Actor - Basil Rathbone
* Art Direction - Hans Dreier and John B. Goodman
* Music, Original Score - Richard Hageman
* Sound, Recording - Loren L. Ryder

Hans Drier was also nominated for an Academy Award for his work on the 1930 film "The Vagabond King", which was a musical version of the same story.

Other versions

McCarthy's play premiered on Broadway in 1901 and was revived five times up through 1916. [ibdb title|4642] It was first adapted in fy|1920 as a silent film.imdb title|0011325|If I Were King (1920)] .

In 1925, composer Rudolf Friml and librettists Brian Hooker and W.H. Post turned it into a successful Broadway operetta, "The Vagabond King", which featured the songs "Only a Rose", "Some Day", and "Song of the Vagabonds". [ibdb title|9049|The Vagabond King] The operetta was filmed twice - in 1930, starring Jeanette MacDonald and Dennis Kingimdb title|0021511|The Vagabond King (1930)] and in 1956, directed by Michael Curtiz. [imdb title|0049909|The Vagabond King (1956)] Both film versions used only a little of Friml's original score.

The François Villon story was also filmed in fy|1927 under the title "Beloved Rogue", with John Barrymore in the lead role, [imdb title|0017667|Beloved Rogue] as well as many other times.


External links

*imdb title|0030265|If I Were King
*tcmdb title|78958|If I Were King
*amg movie|1:96239|If I Were King

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