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The Beloved Rogue (1927)

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François Villon, in his lifetime the most renowned poet in France, is also a prankster, an occasional criminal, and an ardent patriot.



(screenplay), (titles), 3 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
Lawson Butt ...
Mack Swain ...
Angelo Rossitto ...
Nigel De Brulier ...
Lucy Beaumont ...
Villon's Mother
Otto Matieson ...
Olivier (as Otto Mattiesen)
The Abbess
Rose Dione ...
Bertram Grassby ...
Dick Sutherland ...


In 1432, while François Villon is still an infant, his father dies as a martyr to his devotion to France. François grows up to be a renowned poet, an ardent patriot, and a notorious carouser who is not above criminal acts. During the revels of All Fools Day, he insults Duke Charles of Burgundy, for which King Louis XI, who is afraid of Charles, banishes Villon from Paris. In exile outside the city walls, François looks for ways to protect France from Burgundy's plots. When Charles plans to have one of his associates marry the king's ward Charlotte, Villon successfully disrupts the engagement, but for so doing is sentenced to death. But Villon finds a way to exploit Louis's superstitious nature long enough to give him another chance to serve France, while at the same time seeking the hand of Charlotte. Written by Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

12 March 1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Vagabond Lover  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(musical score)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


This film was considered lost for many years until a copy, with the original tinting, was found in the late 1960s in the personal archive of Mary Pickford. See more »


When Francois Villon is stripped and whipped in the dungeon the lacerations on his torso move between shots. See more »


François Villon: Happy is Paris, where fools reign once a year - while everywhere else the fools reign all the time!
See more »


Version of If I Were King (1920) See more »

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User Reviews

Viva Villon: The Adventures of a Vagabond Lover
10 September 2005 | by (Kissimmee, Florida) – See all my reviews

THE BELOVED ROGUE (United Artists, 1927), directed by Alan Crosland, offers John Barrymore the opportunity of enacting a role portrayed numerous times on stage and screen by other actors, that of Francois Villon, the first great poet of France. Villon had been portrayed on screen in IF I WERE KING by William Farnum (Fox, 1920) and Ronald Colman (Paramount, 1938); while Dennis King (1930) and Oreste (1956) did the musical versions of Paramount's THE VAGABOND KING. John Barrymore's characterization ranks one of the finer carnations as well as bazaar. Villon in THE BELOVED ROGUE is described through inter-titles as "poet, pickpocket, patriot, loving France earnestly, Frenchwomen excessively, French wine exclusively." A fun loving fool sporting Peter Pan attire with Robin Hood tights who recites poetry whenever it suits him, steals from the rich and gives to the poor, and travels along with two other companions, Jehan (Slim Summerville) and Nicholas (Mack Swain), all the similarities of a Douglas Fairbanks adventure combining Robin Hood, D'Artagnan of the Three Musketeers, and Zorro all into one. Francois Villon is far from being a fictional character originated in novels, he actually lived (1431-1463). How much displayed on screen to be fact is uncertain, but Barrymore performs in the manner of having himself a grand ole time whether romancing a girl or sliding down roof tops covered with snow. THE BELOVED ROGUE is not actually a biography of the famed poet, but the spirit of the man, undisciplined and riotous, with a gift of writing and reciting poetry.

Aside from the lighter moments mentioned that may give the impression of a costume comedy set in medieval times, THE BELOVED ROGUE starts off dramatically in Vauxcelles, France, the year 1432, with the execution of Francis De Montcorbier as he is burned at the stake in the fashion of Joan of Arc. His wife (Lucy Beaumont) who looks on with bitterness, afterword's, gives birth to a son she hopes will live for France as her husband died for it. The child grows up to become Francois Villon (John Barrymore), and 25 years later, he is seen entertaining the crowds after being elected "The King of Fools" for All Fool's Day in the guise of a clown. When he makes a witty jest at the expense of Duke Charles of Burgundy (Lawson Butt), his cousin, King Louis XI (Conrad Veidt) banishes him from Paris. Villon returns to Paris anyway, and, after supplying food and wine to the poor using the king's catapult, Villon, discovered by the king, escapes as he himself is thrown from the catapult, flying through the air and landing himself in the boudoir of Charlotte De Vauxcelles (Marceline Day), the King's ward forced into a loveless marriage to Count Thibault (Henry Victor), a henchman of a plotting Burgundy. Villon's speech and manner makes him Grand Constable of France, but after revealing the schemes perpetrated against the king, Villon is captured, tortured through flogging and pitted against the flames of fire before his death sentence is to be carried out. This is followed by one of the more memorable scenes where the weakened Villon is placed inside a metal cage-like structure as it is lifted up and left dangling outside the window of the palace tower where Charlotte is held prisoner before her proposed wedding. With much more to follow, the movie fails to disappoint.

The supporting cast includes Rose Dione as Marget; Angelo Rossito as Beppo, the dwarf; and Dick Sutherland as Tristam L'Hermite, the busiest man in France - the executioner. Look quickly for future child actor Dickie Moore early in the story as the infant Francois. German actor Conrad Veidt, making his Hollywood debut, comes close to being unrecognizable as the eccentric King Louis XI. Described as "superstitious, crafty, cruel, and a slave to the stars," he fails to make a move without the advise of his astrologer (Nigel DeBrulier). Marceline Day performs her task well in the typical damsel in distress manner.

Not as well known as Barrymore's notable silents as DON JUAN (Warners, 1926), THE BELOVED ROGUE is a lavish scale production with Paris settings reminiscent to ORPHANS OF THE STORM (1921) and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1923), compliments of set designer, William Cameron Menzies. Good camera angles and overhead camera shots also add to numerous shots of Barrymore's classic profile.

THE BELOVED ROGUE was one of the 13 silent features aired on public television's "The Silent Years" (1971) hosted by Orson Welles, from the Paul Killian film collection accompanied with excellent piano score by William Perry, the same print distributed on video cassette in 1998 by Critic's Choice Masterpiece Collection (from which this review was based). At the length of 99 minutes, running times may differ due to projection speed. Other distributors such as Video Yesteryear in the 1980s possess a copy to THE BELOVED ROGUE at 147 minutes. Which version is better depends on the individual viewer. THE BELOVED ROGUE might be one of the most overlooked of all silent movies due to the lack of television revivals in recent years, however, it is something to consider, especially for silent film enthusiasts and/or film historians who enjoy watching both Barrymore and Veidt hamming it up to a point of laughter and disbelief. (***)

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