The Vagabond King

  • 1930
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Historical, Musical

Paramount's first talkie in full color is an adaptation of the hit Rudolf Friml operetta, a musical fictionalization of the life of 15th-century French poet Francois Villon. Dennis King reprises his stage role as Villon, and O.P. Heggie plays the weak-willed Louis XI, who, as the film opens, is at a loss how to combat the invading Duke of Burgundy. The...read more

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Paramount's first talkie in full color is an adaptation of the hit Rudolf Friml operetta, a musical fictionalization of the life of 15th-century French poet Francois Villon. Dennis King reprises his stage role as Villon, and O.P. Heggie plays the weak-willed Louis XI, who, as the film

opens, is at a loss how to combat the invading Duke of Burgundy. The king's grand marshal, Thibault (Warner Oland), is plotting with the Burgundians to dethrone Louis; meanwhile, the vagabonds of Paris flock to hear the poet-adventurer Villon recite satirical verses about the king. When the

boisterous crowd kidnaps the king's niece, Katherine de Vaucelles (Jeanette MacDonald), Villon saves her and they fall in love. Later, Villon rallies the people to help fight the Burgundians and keep Louis.

Lots of huge production numbers and some good acting by Lillian Roth (as the woman who loses Villon to Katherine) help the proceedings along, but THE VAGABOND KING still feels more like a filmed stage play than a movie. The screenplay is by Herman Mankiewicz, with whom Orson Welles collaborated on

CITIZEN KANE. The songs by composer Friml and wordsmith Hooker were "Song of the Vagabonds" (sung by the male chorus), "Someday" (sung by MacDonald), "Only a Rose" (MacDonald, King), "Huguette's Waltz" (sung by Roth), "Love Me Tonight" (sung by MacDonald, King), and "Nocturne" (chorus), with

several reprises. Other songs were "King Louie" (Sam Coslow, Leo Robin, Newell Chase, sung by King), "Mary, Queen of Heaven" (Coslow, Robin, Chase, sung by the chorus), "If I Were King" (Coslow, Robin, Chase, sung by King), "What France Needs" (Chase, Robin, sung by King, chorus), and "Death

March" (Robin, Chase). The film earned one Academy Award nomination, for Best Interior Decoration.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Paramount's first talkie in full color is an adaptation of the hit Rudolf Friml operetta, a musical fictionalization of the life of 15th-century French poet Francois Villon. Dennis King reprises his stage role as Villon, and O.P. Heggie plays the weak-will… (more)

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