The Man in the Iron Mask (Edward Small 1939 with Louis Hayward and Joan Bennett)

USA / Edward Small / 119 minutes / 1939 black and white

Writer: George Bruce, based on Alexander Dumas’ novel / Cinematography: Robert Planck / Music: Lucien Moraweck / Director: James Whale

Cast: Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett, Warren William, Joseph Schildkraut, Alan Hale, Miles Mander, Bert Roach

This is the best movie interpretation of Dumas’ classic directed by James Whale just eight years on from his definitive Frankenstein. The film stars LOUIS HAYWARD in the dual role of the tyrannical Louis XIV of France and his twin brother Phillippe, imprisoned in the Bastille and encased in an iron mask to conceal his identity. His only hope lies in D’Artagnan and the Three Musketeers, played with verve and elan by WARREN WILLIAM, ALAN HALE, MILES MANDER and BERT ROACH. The heroes determine – through cunning plans and devices – to switch the identical pair and put France under the rule of a benign and loving Louis XIV.

The court intrigues and double crossing belong to JOSEPH SCHILDKRAUT as the wily, king-crawling Fouquet and WALTER KINGSFORD as the hero’s ally in court with JOAN BENNETT adding the glamour as a Spanish princess wooed by the king – but which one?