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The Man in the Iron Mask (1939)

Passed | | Adventure, History, Romance | 13 July 1939 (USA)
Despotic King Louis XIV discovers he has a twin brother who has grown up under the tutelage of his foster father, the patriotic musketeer D'Artagnan.

Director:

Writers:

(novel), (screenplay)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Walter Kingsford ...
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Marion Martin ...
Mlle. de la Valliere (as Marian Martin)
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Cardinal Richelieu (as Nigel de Brulier)
William Royle ...
Commandant of Bastille
Boyd Irwin ...
Lord High Constable of France
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Storyline

D'Artagnan and the musketeers are the only ones who know of the existence of a twin brother, and Fouquet uses his influence to keep everyone silenced. The main story was changed by portraying Louis XIV as selfish, cruel, and incompetent, and Philippe the kind-hearted brother who is raised by D'Artagnan and the musketeers and does not even know that he has an identical twin. When the truth is discovered, Louis XIV has Philippe imprisoned with the iron mask placed on him, hoping that Philippe's beard will grow inside the mask and eventually strangle him. Written by Anthony Pereyra {hypersonic91@yahoo.com}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Alexandre Dumas most amazing, adventurous epic See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

13 July 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Mann mit der eisernen Maske  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(colorized) | (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Nearly all of the characters in this film actually existed, but none of the characters who die in it actually died that way in real life. See more »

Goofs

In one chase scene, a character fires a pistol three times in quick succession. 17th century firearms had to be reloaded after each shot. See more »

Quotes

Philippe: [as Louis] So they don't like the salt tax? DOUBLE IT!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The credits are printed into a old book. A unseen male hand pages through it. See more »

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User Reviews

 
A famous tale brought to life by James Whale
12 February 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

There have been many versions over the years of the fanciful story, "The Man in the Iron Mask," the most recent one being the 1998 film starring Leonardo di Caprio. Back in the late 1970s, Richard Chamberlain took a stab at it, with highly entertaining results.

This particular version was directed to great effect by the talented James Whale, who gives us a fast, energetic, and athletic telling of the story of twins separated at birth, one who will be King of France and one who does not know that he is royalty. The twins are played by Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett is Maria Theresa, Josef Schildkraut is Fouquet, and Warren William leads the Musketeers as D'Artagnan. As one post on this board mentions, the Musketeers are getting up there in age here; Alan Hale, Miles Mander, and Bert Roach are the heroic swordsmen and friends.

It's important always that a good actor plays twins so that they have different personalities. This often is not the case. One may be mean and one may be good, but they talk the same, look the same, act the same etc. Louis Hayward does a fantastic job in his dual roles. As the arrogant King, he is foppish, cruel, dismissive and lustful. As Philip of Gascony, he is gentle and unassuming with a very different demeanor and even a different vocal timber. Hayward was a very smooth actor. It's not exactly clear what happened to his career and why he ended up in the '60s doing spaghetti westerns. Apparently this film set him up for a resume of playing twins, which he gamely did, finally becoming a very successful producer.

Although she was no match in acting for Vivien Leigh, anyone who has seen the "Gone With the Wind" screen tests knows what a beautiful Scarlett Joan Bennett would have made. She's stunning here as the confused Maria Theresa in glorious costumes, with her serene smile, porcelain skin and beautiful bone structure. Warren William, an early leading man who was the movie Perry Mason, is very likable and does well with the athletic sword fighting as D'Artagnan. Having been a leading man when talkies began, by this time he was moving into character roles. With his pencil-thin mustache, he was a familiar presence in films until his death in 1948 at the age of 54.

This is a wonderful movie, a nice remembrance of the good old Hollywood period pieces, when they really knew how to do them. Look for a young Peter Cushing as a King's messenger.


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