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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.


James Whale


Alexandre Dumas (novel) (as Alexandre Dumas père), George Bruce (screenplay)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Louis Hayward ... Louis XIV / Philippe of Gascony
Joan Bennett ... Maria Theresa
Warren William ... D'Artagnan
Joseph Schildkraut ... Fouquet
Alan Hale ... Porthos
Walter Kingsford ... Colbert
Miles Mander ... Aramis
Bert Roach ... Athos
Marion Martin ... Mlle. de la Valliere (as Marian Martin)
Montagu Love ... Spanish Ambassador
Doris Kenyon ... Queen Anne
Albert Dekker ... Louis XIII
Nigel De Brulier ... Cardinal Richelieu (as Nigel de Brulier)
William Royle ... Commandant of Bastille
Boyd Irwin Boyd Irwin ... Lord High Constable of France


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


Free Him! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


James Whale previously directed Frankenstein (1931) and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) while Peter Cushing (Second Officer) later played Baron Frankenstein in The Curse of Frankenstein (1957), The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958), The Evil of Frankenstein (1964), Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) and Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974). See more »


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 »


D'Artagnan: You've suffered enough. You can be King, or you can be free. Which is it?
Philippe: Take me to where the Crown of France is to be found.
See more »

Crazy Credits

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


References The Face Behind the Mask (1938) See more »

User Reviews

Never a dull moment in this impressive version directed by James Whale...
27 January 2007 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

James Whale has to be credited with some very fine direction on this version of THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK, the famous story about the twin brothers, one of whom is a black-hearted rogue who sits on the throne, the other raised in a faraway village by D'Artagnan when it becomes clear that only one twin can sit on the throne of France.

All the ingredients for a good swashbuckler are here with the added benefit of an absorbing story, extremely well played by a wonderful cast. LOUIS HAYWARD has never had a better role than the contrasting twins and the special effects are excellent when he shares scenes with his twin. JOAN BENNETT, although very beautiful, is merely a costumed prop here, exuding no real warmth as the princess who falls in love with the good twin. She was never an actress of any depth.

But the film really belongs to WARREN WILLIAM as a rather overage D'Artagnan and even more so to Joseph SCHILDKRAUT in another one of his evil impersonations as Fouquet, with ambitions to become the Minister of Finance and an appetite for treachery.

Very lavish production values, although one wishes the film could have been filmed in Technicolor (at a time when very few films were). There's a good Oscar-nominated background score in the brisk tradition of such music and there's never a dull moment in the whole film.

Summing up: A majestic, impressive version of the tale which stands up to any subsequent telling in recent years.

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Release Date:

13 July 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Man in the Iron Mask See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(colorized) | (TCM print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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