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Lady Mary's father is innocently accused of treason and is executed. It is the king's evil chancellor, the duke of Brampton, who has found a way of getting rich by accusing his enemies of treason, having them killed and then expropriating their fortune. Lady Mary travels to London to meet the duke, but instead meets the handsome highwayman Michael Dermott. Dermott has found the duke's notebook where all his evil schemes have been written down. Obviously, the duke is very anxious to get his notebook back... Written by
Hugo Fregonese was the film's original director.Fregonese was stricken with a virus and was replaced by director Robert Z. Leonard.It was Leonard's last film for M-G-M.Fregonese did not return to the film when he recovered because of disagreements with producer Edwin H. Knopf. See more »
Watchable but trite script prevents good cast from doing their best...
Even lavish sets and costumes and a background score by Miklos Rozsa can't save THE KING'S THIEF from the boredom of a banal script. Lots of flashing swordplay takes place, but none of it has enough sizzle to make up for a tiresome story about a scoundrel (David Niven) who is keeping his thievery a secret from Charles II (George Sanders).
The best sequence involves an adventurous escape from heavy chains in a prison dungeon and a final encounter in a tower holding fabulous jewels whereby our hero ultimately wins the approval of Charles II.
David Niven does well enough as the charming thief, handsome Edmund Purdom is nimble and rugged enough as a swashbuckling highwayman, and Ann Blyth is pretty in her costume finery. But none of them have more than cardboard characters to work with and the end result is a routine period adventure wasting a talented cast.
Even Rosza's score is less memorable than most of his work for this kind of swashbuckler.
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