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The Vagabond King (1930)

The story takes place in medieval France. Poet-rogue Francois Villon, sentenced to hang by King Louis XI for writing derogatory verses about him, is offered a temporary reprieve. His ... See full summary »


Ludwig Berger, Ernst Lubitsch (uncredited)


Brian Hooker (operetta), Herman J. Mankiewicz (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dennis King ... François Villon
Jeanette MacDonald ... Katherine
O.P. Heggie ... King Louis XI
Lillian Roth ... Huguette
Warner Oland ... Thibault
Arthur Stone ... Oliver the barber
Tom Ricketts ... The Astrologer (as Thomas Ricketts)
Lawford Davidson ... Tristan
Christian J. Frank Christian J. Frank ... Executioner
Elda Voelkel ... Girl
Dorothy Davis ... Brunette
Thora Waverly Thora Waverly ... Brunette
Cecile Cameron Cecile Cameron ... Brunette
Jean Douglas Jean Douglas ... Blonde
Eugenia Woodbury Eugenia Woodbury ... Blonde


The story takes place in medieval France. Poet-rogue Francois Villon, sentenced to hang by King Louis XI for writing derogatory verses about him, is offered a temporary reprieve. His hanging will be postponed for 24 hours, and in that time he must defeat the invading Burgundians and win the love of the beautiful Katherine. Written by Albert Sanchez Moreno <a.moreno@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

remake | swashbuckler | operetta | See All (3) »


Stupendous beyond realization! Magnificent beyond all belief! the greatest romance the world has ever known! (print ad- Buffalo ((NY)) Evening News, 12 March 1930) See more »


Musical | Romance







Release Date:

17 February 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der König der Vagabunden See more »


Box Office


$1,200,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (2-strip Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount productions, filmed between 1929-49, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. Although filmed entirely in 2-strip Technicolor, all television prints were in black and white. See more »


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


Only a Rose
Music by Rudolf Friml
Lyrics by Brian Hooker
Sung by Dennis King and Jeanette MacDonald
See more »

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User Reviews

Essential early sound film from Broadway
5 June 2004 | by John EscheSee all my reviews

Considering the major names involved (in addition to the performers, it was an early screen adaptation from Herman J.

Mankiewicz!) in this fine reflection of the popular 1925 operetta, it's high time we had a good Technicolor restoration done and issued on DVD.

Jeanette MacDonald as the female lead is, perforce, secondary to the slightly "over the top" Dennis King recreating his starring Broadway role (511 performances at the Casino Theatre), but she gives a pure portrait of the King's niece much more honest and appealing than her later over blown "acting" in the Nelson Eddy screen operettas of the late 30's and 40's.

Lillian Roth's Huguette is more throaty than many familiar with the character's beautiful Rudolf Friml music may be used to, but her acting is impeccable and quite moving. Additionally, the chance to see 20th Century Fox's first major "Charlie Chan," Swedish actor Werner Oland, in another perspective entirely as Thibault, is not to be missed for any fan of Earl Derr Biggers' famous sleuth.

While, after the painful Hollywood custom, much of the rousing score has been sacrificed in the film's fast moving 104 minutes (only 100 surviving in the TV print I've seen), most of the best, "Some Day," "Only A Rose," "Huguette Waltz" and of course, "Song of the Vagabond" are here in fine form. Certainly preferable in this relatively faithful form than the bland 1956 remake. It's an exciting alternative to the fine (if music-less) 1938 Ronald Colman film drawn from The Vagabond King's source material: "If I Were King."

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