Raffles (1939 film)

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Directed by Sam Wood
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn
Written by E. W. Hornung (novel)
John Van Druten
Sidney Howard
Starring David Niven
Olivia de Havilland
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
December 29, 1939 (1939-12-29)
Running time
72 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Raffles (1939) is a film starring David Niven and Olivia de Havilland, and is one of several film adaptations of an 1899 novel by E. W. Hornung, Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman.

Sidney Howard wrote the screenplay for the 1930 version, died in 1939, and was given credit as co-author of the screenplay with John Van Druten. F. Scott Fitzgerald may also have worked on the script, but this is unconfirmed.[1]


Man about town and First Class cricketer A.J. Raffles keeps himself solvent with daring robberies. Meeting Gwen from his schooldays and falling in love all over again, he spends the weekend with her parents, Lord and Lady Melrose. A necklace presents an irresistible temptation, but also in attendance is Scotland Yard's finest, finally on the trail.



Raffles was released, along with the 1930 Ronald Colman version, on a 2014 Warner Archive Collection double feature disc. Paul Mavis, writing for DVDTalk.com, wrote, "Directed (mostly) by Sam Wood, Raffles scenes--lifted ones [from the 1930 version] and new ones--are awkwardly set-up and executed compared to director George Fitzmaurice's simple yet elegant 1930 design. With the moodiness and atmospherically dark lighting of the 1930 version swapped here for an over-bright, blown-out look, the chipper tone here is strangely contrasted by some of the most atrocious editing I've ever seen in a major Hollywood studio movie from this time period. A dulled, surprisingly choppy disappointment."[2]

In popular culture[edit]

John Barrymore portrayed Raffles in the 1917 film Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman. Ronald Colman played the part thirteen years later in Raffles.

The main character is parodied in The Simpsons episode "Homer the Vigilante" as cat burglar Molloy.


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