Thursday, July 23, 2015

If I Were King mini-review, no spoilers


I think Ronald Colman's not as famous as Errol Flynn because his name's boring. Names are important in popular history—I suspect the Gunfight at the OK Corral  would not be as famous if it had been Bob Schmidt, his brothers Tom and Jack, and a doctor named Peabody fighting the Smith Gang near O'Neal's Stable. But maybe it's just that fame is fickle, so Colman's not as well remembered as his swashbuckling peers, for all that he was every bit as good as them.

If I Were King is limited by the technology of 1938, so you don't watch it for spectacle. You watch it for charm. All the acting is a little broad, but the story's broad, so that doesn't offend. The surprising performance comes from Basil Rathbone, who I might not have recognized if I hadn't been expecting him to appear. Preston Sturges did the script, which has some nice lines and a populist subtext—the word "bourgeois" appears once, as part of an insult. The plot is simple—a king, Rathbone, decides to reward and punish a man, Colman, who both helped and opposed him—and our hero soon learns that the punishment will be greater than he had thought, if he doesn't find a way out.

The movie doesn't seem to be streaming anywhere. I got a DVD from the library. (It is on Youtube, but the sound is a couple of seconds off, which is unbearable.)

Recommended for fans of '30s historical adventure. Will-Bob gives it a B+ for charm, though it prob'ly deserves a B.