Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1937. Selznick International Pictures. Screenplay by John L. Balderston, dramatization by Edward E. Rose, adaptation by Wells Root, additional dialogue by Donald Ogden Stewart, based on the novel by Anthony Hope. Cinematography by James Wong Howe. Produced by David O. Selznick. Music by Alfred Newman. Production Design by Lyle R. Wheeler. Costume Design by Ernest Dryden. Film Editing by James E. Newcom. Academy Awards 1937.
Ronald Colman returns to the small, fictional European country of his ancestry and is delightfully surprised to learn that he is identical in looks and manner to his cousin (also Colman), the soon-to-be King of the nation. For fear of an assassination attempt, the non-royal Colman is asked to substitute his cousin in a coronation ceremony, but the evil villain (Douglas Fairbanks Jr.) who wants the king dead kidnaps the real one and leaves the royal court in a bind. Colman the commoner must now continue to fill the roles and duties of his royal cousin without anyone knowing, including his betrothed-since-childhood fiance (a breathtaking Madeleine Carroll) who ends up liking the copy much more than the original. He, in turn, begins to fall in love with her as well, making things difficult when it comes time to put the rightful king back in his place. A marvelous adventure with energetic performances and beautiful sets, lovely photography and a deliciously villainous performance by scene-stealing Fairbanks.