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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 (adaptation) | 3 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


The most sensational move ever made in Motion Picture History! 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?


The historical Francois Villon (c. 1431-1463?) was the most famous French poet of the Late Middle Ages. He was however a wanted man, accused of at least one murder, masterminding a robbery, and various gang-related activities. In 1463, he was officially exiled from Paris following an arrest. He disappeared afterwards, and there is no reliable information on his further fate. See more »

Alternate Versions

This film was also released as a silent, for theatres not yet equipped for sound and for overseas markets that were not receptive to musicals. See more »


Version of François Villon (1945) See more »


Finale: 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 escheticSee 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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