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      If I Were King

      Released Nov 11, 1938 1h 40m Adventure List
      Reviews 75% Audience Score 100+ Ratings In this film based on a true story, King Louis XI (Basil Rathbone) masquerades as a commoner in Paris, seeking out the treachery he is sure lurks in his kingdom. At a local tavern, he overhears the brash poet François Villon (Ronald Colman) extolling why he would be a better king. Annoyed yet intrigued, the King bestows on Villon the title of Grand Constable. Soon Villon begins work and falls for a lovely lady-in-waiting (Frances Dee), but then must flee execution when the King turns on him. Read More Read Less

      Critics Reviews

      View All (4) Critics Reviews
      Matt Brunson Film Frenzy Basil Rathbone always projected confidence, intelligence, and authority -- that’s why his mincing, jabbering performance in If I Were King is such an unexpected delight. Rated: 3/4 Feb 18, 2023 Full Review Dennis Schwartz Dennis Schwartz Movie Reviews Witty fictionalized historical adventure tale of the French 15th century vagabond poet Francois Villon. Rated: B Aug 18, 2017 Full Review Emanuel Levy EmanuelLevy.Com Sharply written by Preston Sturges and well acted by Basil Rathbone, this commercially popular swashbuckler was nominated for four Oscars. Rated: B+ Feb 15, 2013 Full Review TV Guide Colman is without peer in his portrayal of the famous French poet and ne'er-do-well Francois Villon. Rated: 3.5/4 Nov 12, 2007 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

      View All (9) audience reviews
      Audience Member Ronald Colman and Basil Rathbone, two wonderful actors having the time of their careers playing wittily written opposites who are also spiritual soulmates -- Francois Villon, the poetic rebel, born into poverty with a noble soul, and Louis XI, King of France, born into privilege but with a rebel's iconoclasm. Add a witty script by that poetic comedic rebel Preston Sturges, who hits all the crowd-pleasing buttons without condescension and no-nonsense direction by Frank Lloyd, and you have a top Hollywood product -- a crowd pleaser with intelligence. Rathbone is a particular delight. Pre-Holmes, he revels in playing an unprepossessing cynic to whom everyone must bow because he happens to be the king. Colman is doing what he does best, playing an intelligent, superior man, without losing the common touch. A delight all the way around. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Audience Member A medieval film with great performances from Colman and Dee. The plot surrounds a French poet Villon being tasked by Louis XI to defeat the Burgundians surrounding Paris. The production session and costumes are really impressive for this film and the last battle is also well shot and directed. Colman's interactions with Rathbone are amusing. However, Rathbone's portrayal of King Louis is pretty cartoonish and sometimes laughable. Rathbone was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role which I don't think was deserved (even though I haven't seen the other nominees). Another aspect that was a bit ridiculous was that no one recognised François in the castle, except his father for some reason. Overall, the film is rarely boring and continues on at an entertaining pace with some great direction and good performances. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 02/11/23 Full Review Audience Member Frances Dee is the personification of femininity in the movie as Lady Katherine. No actress has ever appeared lovelier and enchanting as Frances Dee in this movie. Her subtle facial gestures and delicate and feminine movement of her hands display an actress truly skilled and trained. She is the perfect foil for Ronald Colman. This is one of the best movies to have come out of Hollywood, largely attributed to the writing of Preston Sturges and an excellent cast. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 02/24/23 Full Review steve d The supporting staff makes it fun. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review kevin w Poor Ronald Colman! His mellifluous vocalizing outshines his acting in nearly every outing, so that he is little remembered anymore but for how he spoke. Herein is one film that attempts to capitalize on his go-to strength as he plays a ragtag street poet in France who is given a shot at actually ruling the people, to be king-for-a day. The work is occasionally sprinkled with light poetry with Colman's particular talent in mind (great writing by Preston Sturges), but the poor guy's foil is Basil Rathbone, no acting lightweight, who steals the film with an over-the-top characterization as the much-put-upon real king. Still, all in all, a good work, seemingly forgotten in the wake of great swashbucklers such as The Adventures of Robin Hood. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/30/23 Full Review Audience Member Ronald Coleman is the every-man critic of the King in the middle ages, and the real king (Basil Rathbone) decides to follow his advice. The great Coleman gives a memorable performance, and to listen to the greatest voice in movie history is a treat for the senses. Rated 5 out of 5 stars 01/17/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

      Movie Info

      Synopsis In this film based on a true story, King Louis XI (Basil Rathbone) masquerades as a commoner in Paris, seeking out the treachery he is sure lurks in his kingdom. At a local tavern, he overhears the brash poet François Villon (Ronald Colman) extolling why he would be a better king. Annoyed yet intrigued, the King bestows on Villon the title of Grand Constable. Soon Villon begins work and falls for a lovely lady-in-waiting (Frances Dee), but then must flee execution when the King turns on him.
      Director
      Frank Lloyd
      Producer
      Frank Lloyd
      Distributor
      Paramount Pictures
      Production Co
      Paramount
      Genre
      Adventure
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Nov 11, 1938, Original
      Release Date (DVD)
      May 27, 2014
      Runtime
      1h 40m