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The Vagabond King (1930)
Vagabond King is a lovely film.
I have seen The Vagabond King (1930) twice on the big screen, in the restored two-strip Technicolor version and it is gorgeous. It is like a Rembrandt painting which moves, with lots of dark, muted colors which evoke the medieval setting. The smaller size of the film studio orchestras at this time (compared with symphonic proportions later on), and the stage-bound camera-work typical of early talkies, combine with the acting style of Dennis King and the rest of the cast, to give the modern viewer a sense of seeing this great musical on stage. In fact, a film such as this, I believe ought to be compared to stage productions or other films of the period, more than to later films. Dennis King's Shakepearian delivery and legitimate baritone singing voice would seem out of place in a later film, where subtlety would reign. How fortunate, then, that we have such a fine document from the Broadway creator of the role. Jeanette MacDonald fairly glows in this, her second film, and gives a haunting delivery of Only a Rose. As a fan of early stage and film musicals and the 1920s era in general, I highly recommend this film in the color version.