If I Were King (1938)as Francois Villon

This romp takes place in 15th century France. The people of Paris are starving and vagabond/poet François Villon (Colman) leads a raid on the royal storehouse. The King's Guards catch up with the thieves in a tavern and in the ensuing fight Villon kills the Constable of France in self defense.

A witness to all this is the wily King Louis XI (Basil Rathbone) who has gone to the tavern in disguise to search out a spy he knows to be in his midst. The traitor turns out to be none other than the murdered Constable.

The King is impressed with Villon's manner and way with words. As a lark, Louis appoints Villon Constable of France for a week to give François a chance to put some of his high ideals and criticisms to practical use.

Villon far exceeds anyone's expectations, governing fairly, advising the King, and even rouses the rowdy citizens of Paris to drive off an invasion of Burgundians when the royal army is in danger of losing the battle. He also finds time for courting the lovely Katherine de Vaucelles (Frances Dee).

Colman and Rathbone's verbal fencing is a treat to behold; Rathbone is almost unrecognizable as the sly, high-voiced, somewhat reptilian King Louis - a far cry from his usual clipped-voiced and polished portrayals.

Happily,there is also plenty of opportunity for Colman to recite Villon's poetry - his melodious voice and phrasing lending themselves perfectly to the task.

If I Were King is fanciful fun and Colman is dashing and reckless as the carefree yet honorable adventurer.

 

 

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