Du Pont Show of the Month: The Prince and the Pauper (1957)

Run Time - 90 min.  |  
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This second presentation of the classic dramatic anthology Du Pont Show of the Month is a lavishly mounted adaptation of Mark Twain's historical novel The Prince and the Pauper. Although virtually every film version of this work has either cast twin boys in the roles of young Prince Edward and his ragamuffin lookalike Tom Canty, or has employed split-screen photography to convey the impression that one child actor is actually two different people, this production aired live and was unable to recruit twins at such short notice. Thus, Rex Thompson, best known for his portrayal of Prince Chulanlongkorn in The King and I, plays Edward, while the remarkably similar-looking Johnny Washbrook, previously the star of the TV series My Friend Flicka, plays Tom. Twain's familiar plot remains intact, with the royal Edward and the peasant Tom trading places, leading to all manner of complications for the high- and lowborn citizens of 16th century England. Heading what was advertised as "a cast of 60" is Christopher Plummer as Sir Miles Herndon, who while seeking revenge against the brother who betrayed him befriends the incognito Prince Edward; Hurd Hatfield as that evil sibling, Sir John; Rosemary Harris as the brothers' mutual sweetheart Lady Edith; and Sir Cedric Hardwycke as the scheming Earl of Hartford, who knows that the youngster claiming to be the Prince of England isn't anything of the kind. Also seen is a very young Patty Duke as Edward's sister Princess Elizabeth. "The Prince and the Pauper" was adapted for television by Leslie Slote, who spent much of the 1950s fronting for fellow writers who had been blacklisted.