The King's Thief (1955)

79 mins | Swashbuckler | 5 August 1955

Producer:

Edwin H. Knopf

Cinematographer:

Robert Planck

Production Designers:

Cedric Gibbons, Malcolm Brown

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The opening credits include the following written prologue: "When Charles II was King of England it was said--He never spoke a foolish word nor listened to a wise one. This is the story of how a thief--more foolish than wise--finally made him listen." The HR review noted that the actual quote, by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, was: "He never says a foolish thing nor ever does a wise one." According to HR news items, Hugo Fregonese was the film's original director, but production was halted after eleven days when Fregonese was stricken with a virus. Director Robert Z. Leonard, who had recently gone into retirement, was called to take over. The King's Thief was Leonard's last film for M-G-M, after thirty-one years with the studio. A 12 Jan 1955 DV news item stated that Fregonese would not return to the film when he recovered because of disagreements with producer Edwin H. Knopf.
       A Sep 1954 HR news item noted that Michael Wilding was at that time to be Edmund Purdom's co-star. Jan 1955 HR news items add Barry Regan, Julian Smith, Saul Gorss , Chuck Hayward, LeRoy Johnson, Tap Canutt , Joe Canutt, Phil Schumacher, Clint Sharp, John Eppers , Danny Sands, Curly Gibson, Helen Morgan and Mary Hawkins to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. George Sanders, who played King Charles II in the film, also portrayed Charles II in the 1947 Twentieth Century-Fox film Forever Amber (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). Screenwriter Christopher Knopf was the son of producer Edwin H. Knopf. ... More Less

The opening credits include the following written prologue: "When Charles II was King of England it was said--He never spoke a foolish word nor listened to a wise one. This is the story of how a thief--more foolish than wise--finally made him listen." The HR review noted that the actual quote, by John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, was: "He never says a foolish thing nor ever does a wise one." According to HR news items, Hugo Fregonese was the film's original director, but production was halted after eleven days when Fregonese was stricken with a virus. Director Robert Z. Leonard, who had recently gone into retirement, was called to take over. The King's Thief was Leonard's last film for M-G-M, after thirty-one years with the studio. A 12 Jan 1955 DV news item stated that Fregonese would not return to the film when he recovered because of disagreements with producer Edwin H. Knopf.
       A Sep 1954 HR news item noted that Michael Wilding was at that time to be Edmund Purdom's co-star. Jan 1955 HR news items add Barry Regan, Julian Smith, Saul Gorss , Chuck Hayward, LeRoy Johnson, Tap Canutt , Joe Canutt, Phil Schumacher, Clint Sharp, John Eppers , Danny Sands, Curly Gibson, Helen Morgan and Mary Hawkins to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. George Sanders, who played King Charles II in the film, also portrayed Charles II in the 1947 Twentieth Century-Fox film Forever Amber (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50 ). Screenwriter Christopher Knopf was the son of producer Edwin H. Knopf. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
23 Jul 1955.
---
Daily Variety
12 Jan 1955.
---
Daily Variety
20 Jul 55
p. 3.
Film Daily
3 Aug 55
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Sep 54
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Dec 54
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Dec 54
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Dec 54
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 54
p. 24.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 55
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Jan 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 55
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 55
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Apr 55
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jul 55
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Sep 1955.
---
Motion Picture Daily
21 Jul 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald
23 Jul 1955.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
23 Jul 55
p. 522.
New York Times
13 Aug 55
p. 7.
Variety
20 Jul 55
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
From a story by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Hair styles
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Edmund Purdom's fencing coach
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col consultant
DETAILS
Release Date:
5 August 1955
Production Date:
27 December 1954--mid February 1955
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 July 1955
Copyright Number:
LP5287
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Color
Eastman Color
Widescreen/ratio
CinemaScope
Duration(in mins):
79
Length(in feet):
7,080
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17456
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In 17th century England, James, Duke of Brampton, calls on King Charles II to sign a death warrant against yet another former ally now accused of treason. As the duke departs, a notebook falls out of his coat, and he nervously retrieves it before the king can look inside. Meanwhile, in Normandy, Sir Edward Scott calls on Lady Mary, who has been in exile for ten years, and sadly reports that her father has been hanged for treason. Edward reads a letter from Mary's late father, alluding to the king's treacherous counselors, then mentions rumors that half of what Brampton confiscates for the crown goes into his own pocket. Enraged, Mary vows to return to England and avenge her father. One night, Brampton's coach is waylaid by masked highwaymen, who take his notebook along with his possessions. Later, at the highwaymen's hideout in a tavern, fence Henry Wynch refuses to buy the jewels, and their leader, Michael Dermott, deduces the identity of their victim. Michael inspects Brampton's book and finds it contains the names of various noblemen, along with a complete accounting of their wealth and a date. Later, Mary goes to an exclusive gambling club in London and seats herself at Brampton's table. After Mary has lost all her money and a broach, Michael approaches and places the stolen jewels on the table, offering to redeem her losses. Michael discreetly mentions the notebook, promising to contact the duke later. Michael escorts Mary to her lodgings, and tells her that he and his men fought in the militia restoring the king to the throne but were never paid. Mary tells Michael about her father, and he is about to ... +


In 17th century England, James, Duke of Brampton, calls on King Charles II to sign a death warrant against yet another former ally now accused of treason. As the duke departs, a notebook falls out of his coat, and he nervously retrieves it before the king can look inside. Meanwhile, in Normandy, Sir Edward Scott calls on Lady Mary, who has been in exile for ten years, and sadly reports that her father has been hanged for treason. Edward reads a letter from Mary's late father, alluding to the king's treacherous counselors, then mentions rumors that half of what Brampton confiscates for the crown goes into his own pocket. Enraged, Mary vows to return to England and avenge her father. One night, Brampton's coach is waylaid by masked highwaymen, who take his notebook along with his possessions. Later, at the highwaymen's hideout in a tavern, fence Henry Wynch refuses to buy the jewels, and their leader, Michael Dermott, deduces the identity of their victim. Michael inspects Brampton's book and finds it contains the names of various noblemen, along with a complete accounting of their wealth and a date. Later, Mary goes to an exclusive gambling club in London and seats herself at Brampton's table. After Mary has lost all her money and a broach, Michael approaches and places the stolen jewels on the table, offering to redeem her losses. Michael discreetly mentions the notebook, promising to contact the duke later. Michael escorts Mary to her lodgings, and tells her that he and his men fought in the militia restoring the king to the throne but were never paid. Mary tells Michael about her father, and he is about to kiss her when Brampton and his men show up. Brampton says Michael has been heard uttering treasonous remarks, and suggests that he might save his life by returning the notebook. He sends Michael with his men to retrieve the book, but Michael's cohorts rescue him. Later, the thieves realize that the first two names in the duke's notebook are those of men recently hanged for treason, and speculate that the other people on the list might be willing to pay for information about their scheduled execution. The duke's men suddenly show up, and Michael is shot and wounded while escaping with his comrade Jack. They take refuge at the home of a Quaker family, who promptly take Michael in and tend his wounds. In the morning, Jack returns with Mary, and Michael shows her the book. Just then, Brampton shows up with his men and, after defeating Michael in a fencing match, arrests Michael and Jack and retrieves the book. Michael's two other comrades, Sheldon and Skene, remain at large, however, and Brampton orders Mary to go to Michael's cell that night and learn their whereabouts, threatening to deport her to the colonies if she fails. At the prison, Mary gives Michael a knife and urges him to escape, and Michael tells her the name of their hideout. In the coach to Brampton's, Mary feigns illness and asks to be taken to the apothecary, who is the son-in-law of her loyal servant Simon. Simon is waiting there for her, and he and his family help Mary escape. Meanwhile, Michael uses the knife to remove his and Jack's leg irons, and they manage to tunnel out of their cell and up into the prison's bell tower. Using a length of rope from the bell, they painstakingly lower themselves down the outside of the fortress and escape. Simon is waiting for them at the tavern, and takes them to his quarters, where Michael is happily reunited with Mary. Brampton's aide, Capt. Herrick, who was taken prisoner during Mary's escape, reveals everything about the duke's scheme, which is due to culminate in the overthrow of the king. Herrick says he thought of warning the king, but realized that an audience with Charles can only be arranged through Brampton. Michael then hatches a plan to steal the Crown jewels in order to gain access to the king. Posing as Brampton's cousin and his wife, Michael and Mary go to the Tower of London and are given a private tour of the jewels. While Mary has the caretaker, Sir Gilbert Talbot, show her the observatory, Michael smashes the glass case and steals the jewels, then battles with the enormous guard, Jacob Hall. Michael and Mary's escape is interrupted, however, by the arrival of Charles and the duke. Kneeling before the king, Michael and Mary reveal Brampton's plot, and Michael and the duke engage in a fierce sword fight. After defeating the duke, Michael demands the book and gives it to the king. Later, after the duke has been hanged, Charles summons Michael, and each of his men receives a generous annual income to work in his service. As the king fondly looks on, Michael and Mary kiss. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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