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Ronald Colman (THE PRISONER OF ZENDA) plays Frances Villon--thief, bacchanal, rogue, and one of the great medieval European poets. Frances Dee (SO ENDS OUR NIGHT, WELLS FARGO) plays Katherine de Vaucelles, the love of Villon's life. A Robin Hood-like character, Villon escapes the Royal Guard with ease and grace until he is at last cornered in a den of thieves. Villon and his men fight, and Villon kills King Louis XI's grand constable before the king's very eyes. The king, superbly played by Basil Rathbone (THE ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES), offers Villon one chance to save himself from the gallows--Villon is named the new grand constable for one week's time, during which he must find a way to drive off the Burgundian hordes storming the city's walls. With death as the alternative, Villon is up for the challenge even though the French generals and army have refused to fight. A variety of talents combine to make IF I WERE KING a classic swashbuckler, including Colman's suave presence, Dee's comely looks, Rathbone's superb performance, picturesque gothic sets, and the lively and comical repartees from screenwriting great Preston Sturges (SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS).
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