7.3/10
683
18 user 6 critic

If I Were King (1938)

Vagabond poet François Villon rises to high office in 1463 Paris.

Director:

Frank Lloyd
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronald Colman ... François Villon
Basil Rathbone ... King Louis XI
Frances Dee ... Katherine de Vaucelles
Ellen Drew ... Huguette
C.V. France ... Father Villon
Henry Wilcoxon ... Captain of the Watch
Heather Thatcher ... The Queen
Stanley Ridges ... Rene de Montigny
Bruce Lester ... Noel le Jolys
Walter Kingsford ... Tristan l'Hermite
Alma Lloyd ... Colette
Sidney Toler ... Robin Turgis
Colin Tapley ... Jehan LeLoup
Ralph Forbes ... Oliver Le Dain
John Miljan ... Thibaut D'Aussigny
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Storyline

In 1463, Paris is besieged by the Duke of Burgundy, arch-rival of the king, who is content to sit tight while the poor starve. But there are traitors in Paris, and King Louis goes undercover to find one, thereby meeting Francois Villon, poet, philosopher and rogue. By chance Villon kills the king's traitor and is ordered to replace him...as Grand Constable of France! But there's a catch... Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

His Love-Making was as Dangerous as His Sword-Play

Genres:

Adventure | History

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

11 November 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Si yo fuera rey See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Boyer reportedly turned down the role. See more »

Goofs

The idealized diet of a king includes hummingbirds, but those had not been discovered yet, as Columbus was still a few decades to come. See more »

Quotes

King Louis XI: If it is so easy to be king, how would you begin?
François Villon: First, by eating... my next step would be to clean house. The vermin who infest the palace I'd hang in clusters.
King Louis XI: What would you do next?
François Villon: Try to know my subjects and try to earn their devotion and loyalty instead of their loathing.
King Louis XI: By abolishing taxes, I suppose?
François Villon: No! By abolishing despair and substituting hope. By knowing the longings in their hearts as a man of the people would, seeing them as they are and admitting that their vices are as deep ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening credits are displayed on the roofs and outside walls of houses. See more »

Connections

Version of The Vagabond King (1930) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Ronald Colman and Basil Rathbone and a Preston Sturges script can't be beat.
18 November 1998 | by Art-22See all my reviews

I knew I was in for a treat when I saw Preston Sturges was scriptwriter for this film, which was clever and energetic, but I didn't expect such wonderful performances from both Basil Rathbone (who received an Oscar nomination) and Ronald Colman. I always felt Colman didn't pick up his lines fast enough (at least in his later years), but he's perfect playing the poet François Villon. Colman sounds like a poet whenever he speaks in all his roles! You've never seen Rathbone in any role quite like that of Louis XI. He sounds at first almost childlike, but it is a mask - he's pretty wily and knows what he is doing all the time. The script, of course, is pure hokum. You can't imagine for one moment that a king would make Grand Constable a man who was caught stealing food from the royal storehouse. As Grand Constable, he runs France! The extended scene where he, while hidden, metes out sentences to his friends who were also caught stealing, is pure delight, and very worthy of Sturges. I found fault with Villon's earlier escape, as it was too easy, and with the casting of Ellen Drew in the role of one of the wenches at the Fir Cone tavern, and who loves Villon. There was too much to enjoy in the film so those were easy to forgive. His other love is Frances Dee, playing one of the nobles at court, and she is always stunningly dressed in Edith Head's costumes. The rest of the cast was all first rate, and the Oscar-nominated sets were excellent. Curiously, the film is set in 1463, the approximate year that Villon died at the age of 32. Also, William Farnum, who plays General Barbezier in this film, played Villon in the 1920 silent of the same name as this film.


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