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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Man In The Iron Mask (1939)

In 1638 France, Queen Anne (Doris Kenyon) gives birth to two twin sons. To prevent any possibility of sibling rivalry on claims to the throne, King Louis XIII (Albert Dekker) gives the second twin to his close friend, the musketeer D'Artagnan (Warren William) to raise as his own. As adults, Louis XIV (Louis Hayward) and his brother Philip (also Hayward) could not be more different, the King narcissistic and unconcerned with the welfare of his subjects while Philip is a man of the people. But fate has a showdown planned. Loosely based on the Alexandre Dumas classic, this is a well crafted and solid swashbuckler nimbly directed by the underrated James Whale (FRANKENSTEIN). The film manages to cram a lot of plot as well as action in its two hour running time but never feels tedious. Hayward slightly overdoes the King's foppishness but makes for a dashing Philip and Joan Bennett, at her loveliest, is Maria Theresa of Spain. The two would reunite the next year in another greatly enjoyable swashbuckler, SON OF MONTE CRISTO. With Joseph Schildkraut, Alan Hale, Walter Kingsford, Marion Martin and Montagu Love.

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