Crossed Swords (1977 film)
|Directed by||Richard Fleischer|
|Produced by||Pierre Spengler|
|Written by||Mark Twain (novel)
Berta Dominguez D. &
Pierre Spengler (original screenplay)
George MacDonald Fraser (final screenplay)
|Music by||Maurice Jarre|
|Edited by||Ernest Walter|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. (USA)|
|3 June 1977 (London)
March 17, 1978 (US)
Crossed Swords (UK title: The Prince and the Pauper) is a 1977 action adventure film directed by Richard Fleischer, based on The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain. It stars Mark Lester, Oliver Reed, Ernest Borgnine, Raquel Welch and Sir Rex Harrison.
The film was notable for featuring an all star cast of British and American actors in the supporting parts.
In 16th Century London, a pauper called Tom Canty (Mark Lester) reads to a group a children but is attacked and threatened by his cruel father John Canty (Ernest Borgnine) to steal five shillings by suppertime or get beaten. Tom goes into the city square and steals a purse from a rich man, but drops it after bumping into another man. Thinking that Tom still has the purse, the rich man and other men chase Tom through the streets of London. Tom escapes by climbing up a wall and through a window, where he falls into a palace garden in front of King Henry VIII (Charlton Heston), who sets the guards on him. However, Tom outruns them by going to the roof of the castle and hiding in a chimney. In the grounds, Henry VIII orders for The Duke of Norfolk (Sir Rex Harrison) to be arrested during the masked ball that evening.
In his royal chamber, Prince Edward of Wales (Mark Lester) insists on not wearing a costume to the masked ball and his dressers leave him. Tom falls down the chimney into the chamber and Edward demands to know who he is. Tom introduces himself and explains his situation. Interested that Tom looks like him, Edward decides they swap appearances and clothes to attend the masked ball, but adds that the Prince's Seal stays with the true Prince. However, Edward is mistaken for Tom by The Duke of Norfolk, who orders for him to be escorted out of the palace. Outside, Edward is rescued by skilled swordsman Sir Miles Hendon (Oliver Reed). At the masked ball, The Duke of Norfolk is arrested and Henry VIII and the guests laugh at Tom's dancing, despite Tom repeatedly claiming that he's not the Prince of Wales.
Meanwhile, despite Edward repeatedly claiming that he is the Prince of Wales, Miles says he believes him, but actually doesn't and takes him to John Canty where Edward discovers what Tom's life is like. But when John attempts to beat Edward, Miles intervenes and a fight breaks out, resulting in John pushing Miles off a roof into a stream. John is declared a murderer and he flees London with Edward. At the castle, Henry VIII has fallen ill since the morning after the masked ball and he orders for no one to declare that Tom is not the Prince, not even Tom himself, though some of the lords and ladys do notice changes in the Prince, but they dismiss it as a brief phase. During a banquet, Henry VIII dies in his royal chamber and Tom commands that The Duke of Norfolk shall not die.
In some woods, John and Edward are escorted by some unfriendly men to an underground cavern where Ruffler's (George C. Scott) gang hide out. However, they are unfriendly and reveal that word has reached them of Henry VIII's death. Edward discovers how many of the gang members are former nobles who were driven out of London by Henry VIII's rule, and says he will give back what was taken from them. One of the gang members challenges Edward to a flight, which Ruffler takes great interest in watching but John is confused as to how his "son" became such a good fighter. Edward wins and leaves the cavern. John goes after him to beat him again, but is killed by another member of Ruffler's gang. Outside, Edward meets Miles, having survived his fall. Miles takes Edward to Hendon Hall, where Miles is outraged to discover his brother Hugh Hendon (David Hemmings) has married Miles' love interest Lady Edith (Raquel Welch) and taken Hendon Hall for himself. Hugh has Miles and Edward captured, but Edith helps them escape and Edward convinces Miles that he (Edward) really is the rightful King and offers to restore him to his honour as a Knight.
The day of the crowning arrives and Edward and Miles race to London by hijacking a horse and cart which Hugh and Edith are in. Miles swaps clothes with Hugh and ties him up in the cart, but he breaks out in London and attempts to have Miles arrested, but Miles and Edward fight off the guards and Edward gets inside the building before the doors are closed. Edward halts the ceremony and he and Tom swap back to their original positions, admitting to each other that they were not good at each other's position. Archbishop Cranmer (Richard Hurndall) and other witnesses are stunned until Edward presents the Prince's Seal and takes his position as the rightful King. After the ceremony, Edward makes Tom Head Governor and his mother (Sybil Danning) sets up shelters for the homeless. Hugh agrees to a divorce from Edith and flees to America, where he enjoys a political career. Miles is restored to his honour as a Knight and marries Edith. Princess Elizabeth (Lalla Ward), though not originally heir to the throne, becomes Queen in her own right at the age of 25 and rules for 45 years. As she had promised earlier in the film, "She took good care of England."
- Oliver Reed as Sir Miles Hendon
- Raquel Welch as Lady Edith
- Mark Lester as Prince Edward / Tom Canty
- Charlton Heston as Henry VIII
- Ernest Borgnine as John Canty
- George C. Scott as The Ruffler
- Rex Harrison as The Duke of Norfolk
- David Hemmings as Hugh Hendon
- Harry Andrews as Hertford
- Julian Orchard as St. John
- Murray Melvin as Prince's Dresser
- Lalla Ward as Princess Elizabeth
- Felicity Dean as Lady Jane Grey
- Sybil Danning as Mother Canty
- Graham Stark as Jester
- Preston Lockwood as Father Andrew
- Arthur Hewlett as Fat Man
- Tommy Wright as Constable
- Harry Fowler as Nipper
- Richard Hurndall as Archbishop Cranmer
- Don Henderson as Burly Ruffian
- Dudley Sutton as Hodge
- Ruth Madoc as Moll
George MacDonald Fraser was hired to rewrite the script. Shooting took place in France.
The movie did not do well in the theaters. In fact, the critiques of his performance were so savage that Mark Lester gave up acting.
- George MacDonald Fraser, The Light's On at Signpost, HarperCollins 2002 p26-43