Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Prince and the Pauper ( 1962 )

Mark Twain had a knack for writing stories that appealed to the common people, especially to children. Most everyone has at one time imagined what it would be like to switch places with someone else. The grass is always greener on the other side. And, in this case, the grass just happens to be in the court of the King's palace, so why wouldn't it be greener? 

Even in 1532, little pauper boys pondered this question. Tom Canty wants to catch a glimpse of the king in London. He doesn't see the king but instead, he finds himself invited into the palace by none other than the young Prince Edward! Since the boys share an uncanny resemblance, they decide to switch places for a few hours...only those few hours turn into several days and they both find it difficult to convince anyone that they are not whom they seem to be. 

Walt Disney made a number of great made-for-television movies in the 1960s for his series "The Wonderful World of Disney" and, like most of his feature film productions, the movies had generous budgets. The Prince and the Pauper has a top-notch cast, great costumes, and some really impressive sets. Artist Peter Ellenshaw created some beautiful matte shots to expand the sets and evoke the 16th-century setting.
Sean Scully is marvelous as our leading lad and gives a convincing portrayal of both the prince and the pauper. Scully, the son of Australian actress Margaret Christensen, caught the eye of Walt Disney Studios after he appeared in the CCF ( Children's Film Foundation ) production Hunted in Holland ( 1961 ). Following his appearance in The Prince and the Pauper, he was cast in two more Disney productions: Almost Angels ( 1962 ) and The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh ( 1963 ). 
Guy Williams ( Zorro ) also stars as Miles Henson, a nobleman who befriends the prince while he is in disguise as a beggar. Even though he does not believe the boy's story to be true, he plays along addressing the prince as "your majesty" and helps rescue him on more than one occasion. Donald Houston has a meaty part as Tom's abusive alcoholic father who, after he murders the local priest ( Niall MacGinnis ), joins up with "The Ruffler" ( Nigel Green ), a man who commands a band of thieves. Also in the cast is Laurence Naismith, Paul Rogers, Geoffrey Keen, and a young Jane Asher. 
The Prince and the Pauper was not one of the Disney classics that I grew up with and it does not seem like it would be your typical childhood favorite even though it packs in its share of excitement. There's swordplay, a good Twain story, and fine acting, yet there may be just a tad too much "talk" to capture a child's interest. 

5 comments:

  1. This doesn't even ring a tiny bell in my memory! I am enthralled by your account and must catch up with this "lost" classic. It is a perennially favourite tale around here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it's a favorite tale, then by all means, check this one out. I thought it was a very good adaptation, but it probably good have used an extra dose of humor to make it a winner with children. It wasn't given a DVD release, but you can find it online.

      Delete
  2. I was so glad to see this on Hoopla recently! As you noted, it looks fabulous and has a fine cast, especially Guy Williams (who remains quite popular). All in all, it's a very good version of the Twain classic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I'm so glad Hoopla added almost all of the Disney classics to their offering.

      Delete
  3. When ANNETTE FUNICELLO was working for MR. WALT DISNEY he knew she was crazy about GUY WILLIAMS as ZORRO so WALT arranged for a special birthday gift for Annette. He gave her a guest-starring role on ZORRO! Also almost everyone called Disney by the name UNCLE WALT or at least WALT. But out of a sign of respect-probably because he was her boss and an elder of hers- Annette always said MR. DISNEY. ANNETTE and WALT were two nice and classy people. Classic TV Fan

    ReplyDelete