The Prince and the Pauper (1937)
“Mark Twain’s Immortal Classic!”
Director: William Keighley
Cast: Errol Flynn, Claude Rains, Henry Stephenson
Synopsis: Two lookalike boys, one a poor street kid and the other a prince, exchange places to see what the other’s life is like.
Watching a movie like The Prince and the Pauper is like returning to a much-loved home: tattered townspeople with cor-blimey accents mingle in a suspiciously clean-looking olde-worlde England, bad guys wear their badness on their sleeve for everyone to see, and the screen is filled with reassuringly familiar character actors. Hollywood historical adventures of the thirties – you just can’t go wrong.
The Mauch twins are so alike you tend to think you’re watching one actor playing two parts, but, in today’s effects-heavy climate, the decision to use twins rather than Freddie Bartholomew in a dual role (and no doubt utilising split-screen techniques that would look distinctly dodgy today) can be seen to be a wise one.
Director William Keighley maintains a brisk pace throughout, and elicits a suitably dashing performance from a young Errol Flynn who, although top-billed, does not appear until the film is nearly half over. If you’re a fan of old movies you’ll love this one, and if you’re not you just might be converted.
(Reviewed 13th March 2002)