The Rudolf Friml operetta The Vagabond King was first filmed in 1930, with Dennis King in the lead. On both sides of this adaptation, audiences were treated to non-singing versions of the story, bearing titles like The Beloved Rogue and If I Were King. In all instances, the plot remained the same: in 15th-century France, irreverent beggar poet Francois Villon, crowned "king for a day" by capricious Louis XVI, patriotically rallies his fellow beggars to pick up their weapons when Paris is invaded by the Burgundians. In the 1956 remake of Vagabond King, new "singing sensation" Oreste (of whom little was heard afterwards) stars as Villon, with Cedric Hardwicke as the droll, doddering King Louis, Kathryn Grayson as the high-born heroine, and Rita Moreno as the lusty low-born wench whose love for Villon eventually costs her the use of her life. Vincent Price narrates the film, which if nothing else is elaborately mounted and colorfully photographed. Sharp-eyed viewers will be able to spot Phyllis Newman, whose meaty supporting role was pared down to a one-line bit in the release prints.
by Hal Erickson synopsis