Starring Louis Hayward, Joan Bennet, Warren William, Alan Hale, Joseph Schildkraut, Albert Dekker, Walter Kingsford
(7-Very Good Film)
Extravagant. Compelling. Exciting.
Philippe: There is one law in life, my brother, that not even a king can escape… the law of retribution!
Based on Alexandre Dumas’ conclusion to the Three Musketeers saga, The Man in the Iron Mask begins in the 17th century with King Louis XIII’s wife giving birth to twin sons, Louis and Philippe. In most cases, any man would be proud to find he has two sons but in this situation, twin sons mean twin claims to the throne and could spell chaos in the future. Foreseeing this, the king sends one son off to live humbly with one of his trusted musketeers, D’Artagnan (William), never knowing his birthright. Decades later, the remaining son, Louis XIV (Hayward), is on the throne and a true tyrant. Finding out about the brother, he sentences his twin to the Bastille and burdens him with an iron mask to cover his face at all times. Joan Bennet plays Princess Maria of Spain who loves Philippe (Hayward) and despises Louis but thinks they are the same person and can’t understand her feelings. Though only loosely based on Dumas’ work apparently, the filmmakers have mined and condensed the story wonderfully into pure intrigue, romance, and excitement. It’s everything you’d want in a swashbuckler. Louis Hayward does nifty work in portraying the disparate brothers.
-Walter Tyrone Howard-