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Lively escapist fare.
phillindholm25 October 2005
"Crossed Swords" is a lavish and lively adaptation of the Mark Twain classic "The Prince and the Pauper". Producing the picture were the Salkinds, the father and son team responsible for "The Three Musketeers" films, as well as the "Superman" blockbusters. Released in England by Twentieth Century Fox as "The Prince and the Pauper" in 1977, it reached American shores (now distributed by Warner Brothers) in 1978 as "Crossed Swords" and with eight minutes of footage deleted.

Veteran director Richard Fleischer moves the familiar story along quite briskly, while still giving audiences ample opportunities to appreciate the handsome sets and costumes. The all-star cast is mostly impressive. Mark "Oliver" Lester is too old and stiff to give a truly authentic performance in the dual role of Prince Edward and pauper Tom Canty, but he doesn't spoil the film. Oliver Reed is a hearty and touching Miles Hendon, and Ernest Borgnine, fake cockney accent or not, shines as the pauper's cruel father. Charlton Heston perhaps overdoes the part of old King Henry, but how else can you play a character like that? Rex Harrison is smooth as an ill-fated Duke, George C Scott impresses as a beggar king, Raquel Welch looks stunning in her too-few scenes as Edith, Hendon's true love, and she beautifully underplays her part (though her surprising adeptness at comedy is evident here as well). The same cannot be said for scenery chewing David Hemmings, cast as Hugh, Hendon's evil brother, who forced Edith into an unhappy marriage. Among the supporting cast are such familiar faces as Harry Andrews, as a duplicitous Court Minister, Julian Orchard as a court fop, and Sybil Danning as Tom's mother. Two young beauties (Lalla Ward and Felicity Dean) appear as, respectively, future Queen Elizabeth and Lady Jane.

With a rousing music score by Maurice Jarre, perfect for a swashbuckler like this, and beautiful scenery photographed by the great Jack Cardiff, this is light-hearted, spirited adventure at its finest. Surprisingly, the film did not fare well on either side of the Atlantic but, like most period adventures, it has worn well. Incidentally, the DVD release restores the cut footage and includes a theatrical trailer and television spot (for the U.S. release) which compliment the flawless Anamorphic Widescreen transfer.
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shame about Mark Lester ...
didi-54 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The major failing of this version of the famed classic is the presence of Mark Lester as the twins, the prince and pauper of the title. He was great as a pre-teen in 'Oliver!' but here he just hasn't the range to convince in either role.

There are, however, ample compensations. Oliver Reed is really rather good as bulky swordsman Miles Hendon (following in the footsteps of Errol Flynn from four decades earlier); while others in the cast making the most of small but meaty roles are George C Scott, Rex Harrison, Harry Andrews, Murray Melvin, and Charlton Heston. There's also Julian Orchard playing his usual silly English fop, but you can't have everything.

I loved this film as a child and still do; it has the right amount of adventure, romance, and silliness to get by. Get rid of Mark Lester and it would have been close to a perfect kid's film; as it is it is around halfway there.
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The Pauper Who Would be a Prince
Bogmeister20 May 2006
Brought to us by the same producers of "The Three Musketeers" and "The Four Musketeers" of several years earlier, this also brought along some of the same cast - Reed, Welch, and Heston - in an attempt to duplicate the success of those earlier adventures. It doesn't quite reach that level but is a fairly faithful adaptation of the Mark Twain story, with solid entertainment value. This was a final gasp in the child star career of Mark Lester, who gained fame as the title character of "Oliver!" from 9 years earlier. A tall gangly young man by this point, he seems out of place here, as if they waited a couple of years too long to film this. He plays the pivotal dual roles of a poor pauper kid who switches places with his double, Prince Edward of England. Reed is the wandering soldier of fortune who takes pity on and befriends the prince, now mistaken for a peasant who seems mad. Reed basically repeats his 'Athos' role from the Musketeers movies, but that's not really a bad thing - it is Oliver Reed, after all.

The movie also piles on as many big stars as possible, a habit of the producers, though many of these stars had their best roles behind them. Heston is on hand as the blustery King Henry, dying about halfway through. Welch doesn't appear until the 2nd half, playing Reed's old girlfriend, now married to his evil brother (Hemmings). Borgnine hams it up as the mean brutal dad to the pauper, while Scott puts in an appearance as a ruler of thieves or beggars, whatever. Harrison is a royal duke, reminding one of his role as Caesar long ago in "Cleopatra"(63). This benefits from the long experience of most of the actors, who lend a humorous, carefree style to most of the scenes. There's even some poignancy in the later scenes between Lester & Reed, who begins to wonder if this may truly be the new king of England he's trying to protect, and it helps to have a nice score, as usual, from Jarre. Twain knew how to write a good story, complete with suspense as we wait for the finale, and this shows through at the end.
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Perfect Sunday afternoon family entertainment
James_Byrne11 May 2005
The major stumbling block in this all-star version of Mark Twain's classic children's story is Mark Lester, he just does not convince as a begging urchin, he lacks the street-wise cunning of a young man who has been dragged up, beaten up and abused by his monster of a father. There is no disguising his cultured and well-spoken dialect when attempting the pauper's lower class diction, and the Harpo Marx hairstyle doesn't help his cause. Charlton Heston, the only American actor ever to play King Henry VIII, gives a towering performance as the gout-ridden Tudor monarch and completely dominates every scene he is in. Oliver Reed is great as Miles Hendon, and proves to be a rollicking good swashbuckler in his clash with fellow British 60's hell-raiser David Hemmings.(It's sad when viewing GLADIATOR and seeing what twenty years of hell-raising did to these two talented actors). Coincidentally, Errol Flynn, the daddy of all hell-raisers, made a better version of THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER in the 30's, and also a terrible turkey called CROSSED SWORDS, which was the American title used for this film in 1978. What this version has over all the others is the marvellous supporting cast, not just Rex Harrison, George C. Scott and Ernest Borgnine (who is frightening as the pauper's father) but the excellent British character actors who keep cropping up in the minor roles. Michael Ripper, veteran of countless Hammer horrors, does a fine turn as the servant of Raquel Welch; Ripper also appeared in the very good Walt Disney 1962 version of this tale, as a broom merchant. THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER is excellent family entertainment, the sets and costumes are superb, and this movie may inspire younger viewers to pick up and read the wonderful Mark Twain classic story.
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Lavish retelling of the young Prince Edward VI , Henry VIII 's son , taking places with his look-alike , a slum beggar
ma-cortes3 September 2011
Nice adaptation from Mark Twain's classic also titled ¨Crossed Swords¨ with a top-of-the range cast . It's a Richard Fleischer's gorgeous film plenty of action , costumed adventure , humor , swashbuckling and lots of entertainment . The movie is very amusing and funny , capturing the flavor of the old times . On the same day two boys cross their fates : the pauper Tom and prince Edward (Mark Lester in double tole) . As a street beggar, Tom flees from pursuers and sneaks into the palace garden and meets the King Henry VIII (Charlton Heston) . Later on , the pickpocket Tom meets prince Edward VI , they change clothes with each other but the guards discover them and throw out the prince, since they are almost identical. Nobody believe them when they try to tell the truth and the young prince has trouble reclaiming his crown. Soon after, the old king dies and the prince will inherit the throne. The young prince turned beggar is aided by a swashbuckling soldier-of-fortune ( Oliver Reed who steals the spectacle as intrepid adventurer ) .

The flick deals about the Prince Edward VI ,son of Henry VIII of England, who's replaced by a beggar and vice versa . The film mingles comedy, adventures, humor, tongue-in-check and history. The starring boy is excellent and Oliver Reed as the preceptor is sublime. Also are splendidly, the supporting roles : Rex Harrison , Harry Andrews , Charlton Heston , Ernest Borgnine , David Hemmings , George C Scott , all are magnificent , including Raquel Welch. In the movie appears several historical characters, such as Henry VIII, Edward VI , Duke of Norfolk , and Lady Jane, princess Elizabeth , both of whom will be queens.

Colorful and evocative cinematography by Jack Cardiff . Imaginative score by Maurice Jarre who includes sensible chores . Direction by Richard Fleischer is very good . This is still one of the best versions along with the starred by Errol Flynn. This entertaining movie should satisfy young and old . Other adaptations about this vintage story dealing with mistaken identity between a prince and a child from the London slums are the following : The classic rendition ( 1937) by William Keighley with Errol Flynn , Claude Rains ; Disney version by Don Chaffey with Guy Williams , TV take on ( 2000) by Gilles Foster with Aidan Quinn ; furthermore , several versions on cartoons .
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Colourful pageant
son_of_cheese_messiah12 April 2012
This film has a lot to recommend it. It is has some rather beautiful scenes (the scene of Henry VIII on his deathbed with his jester at the foot of the bed lingers long in the memory and deserves to be in a better film), some good fights and an all-star cast. Oliver Reed in particular puts in his usual charismatic performance. There is some impressive technical wizardry by which Mark Lester is made to appear as his own twin. But I agree with other reviews that Lester is not up to the task of the central role unfortunately. He is too old, for a start. That would not not necessarily be a problem except he is involved in some fight scenes and appears to be too gangly and delicate an adolescence to be able to best his opponents. Nor does he have much presence and one gets the distinct impression that the all star cast was drafted in to distract from his rather dull performance. Still it is worth watching.
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great classic!!
edoornbos25 December 2005
This is a great classic! With so many brilliant actors in one movie they couldn't go wrong! Charlton Heston as always, is excellent and oliver Reed plays the lead part as no one! A lot of action, some comedy and a great story makes this movie very much worth watching! Don't watch another remake, this one is without a doubt the very best!! A lot of actors from this movie, teamed up several times, and that was for a reason. Oliver Reed and Charlton Heston also stared in The Three musketeers, The Four musketeers, Treasure Island and although they never had so many scenes together, the movies always were GREAT!! Of course Oliver Reed also teamed up with Michael York in a few movies, like the Musketeers movies and in The Lady and the Highwayman.
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Great support, but the center does not hold...
shneur26 May 2006
This is an oddly mangled version of the famous Mark Twain novel. Historically, Edward VI became king at age 10, and had been dead for three years when he would have been Mark Lester's age (18) at the making of this film. Why director Richard Fleischer chose to transmute the title characters from children to late adolescents is a mystery to me. It makes their bumbling in their respective reversed roles more pathetic than sympathetic. Mark Lester's performance, in both roles of prince and pauper, I thought was distinctly undistinguished in view of his earlier achievements. Perhaps he was already thinking of his medical career ahead. Now having said all that, the strength of this movie, such as it is, lies in its powerhouse supporting cast: Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, Ernest Borgnine as the abusive father, George C. Scott as a brigand, Rex Harrison, David Hemmings, and even Charlton Heston as Henry VIII -- WOW! As I watched, I wished they had just left the protagonists out altogether and let these master actors tell the story of Sixteenth Century Tudor intrigues. To view or not to view? It's a toss-up: you decide.
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A very fun historical adventure film in spite of its flaws
GusF28 February 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Based on the 1881 novel of the same name by Mark Twain and released in the US under the title "Crossed Swords", this is a very fun historical adventure film in spite of its flaws. The film has a slow start but it picks up momentum as it progresses. It has a good script by George MacDonald Fraser but the direction of Richard Fleischer is not up to his usual very high standard. Given that it was produced by the Salkinds, has several major cast members in common and was adapted by Fraser from a 19th Century classic, it is difficult not to compare it to "The Three Musketeers" (1973) and "The Four Musketeers". On that score, I found the film to be a little wanting. I couldn't help thinking that it would have been better if it had been directed by Richard Lester, who was more suited to the swashbuckling adventure genre than Fleischer.

The film stars Mark Lester in not one but two very bad performances as the title characters Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VI) and his impoverished doppelgänger Tom Canty. As played by Lester, both characters are cardboard cutouts. The very occasional slight trace of a Cockney accent aside when playing the latter in the early scenes, he does absolutely nothing to distinguish between the two. They are supposed to be physically identical but not in terms of their personalities, which often seems to be the case here in spite of Fraser's efforts in the script department. The fact that Lester delivers 90% of his lines in a monotone and shouts the rest of them does not do him any favours either. At 18 years old, he was far too old for the roles, as both characters are supposed to be about nine in the novel. Other than all of these things, however, he was perfect casting. In spite of Lester's poor performances, Prince Edward and Tom are both likable characters, which is a testament to Fraser's writing and the strength of the source material. It is quite funny that the film would have been better with one Lester and without another. I found the scenes featuring Prince Edward trying to deal with the often merciless outside world to be far more interesting than those of Tom in Nonsuch Palace.

The best performance in the film comes from Rex Harrison, who is wonderful as the kind, fiercely intelligent, witty and introspective Duke of Norfolk, who is condemned to the Tower of London by Henry VIII but finds a friend and ally in Tom. George C. Scott has little more than a cameo but he is sublime as the enigmatic, dishonest monk turned gang leader Ruffler. In contrast to Lester, his "Oliver!" co- star Oliver Reed was very well cast as Miles Hendon, a nobleman turned soldier of fortune. He takes pity on Edward, saving him from a mob and fighting off Tom's abusive father, but does not believe his claims to be the Prince of Wales for most of the film. Reed is an excellent actor and he imbues the hotheaded Miles with a great deal of pathos, particularly in the second half. I have always thought that Charlton Heston is a very underrated actor but he is atypically bad and forgettable as the dying Henry VIII, in contrast to how effective he was as the conniving Cardinal Richelieu in the aforementioned films.

Ernest Borgnine is pretty decent as John Canty but I think that he may have been miscast. As Miles' beloved Lady Edith, Raquel Welch is billed second after Reed (and before Lester) in the opening credits but she does not appear until almost three-quarters of the way through the film and has only about 15 minutes screen time, if even that. Nice work if you can get it! Welch is better known for the way that she looks in a fur bikini or a tight spacesuit than for her mastery of Shakespeare but she still manages to give a better performance than Lester, which says a lot. David Hemmings was quite good in the small role as Miles' treacherous brother Hugh, which surprised me as I thought that he was very bad in "The Charge of the Light Brigade" (1968). It also features nice appearances from Harry Andrews as the new king's uncle Lord Hertford, Julian Orchard as St. John, Lalla Ward as a suitably imperious Princess Elizabeth, Murray Melvin as Edward's dresser and Hammer regular Michael Ripper as Lady Edith's servant.

Overall, this is by no means a perfect film but it's good fun. The script and some excellent performances are able to paper over some of the more obvious cracks.
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Enjoyable Film
dougglenn121518 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I have a love/hate relationship with this movie. I've always felt that Oliver Reed was the stand-out performance in this film. The man could certainly play pained, suffering, and world weary like few others. One of the great delights in watching something like this is seeing Oliver Reed's fight scenes. The man could brawl with class. Charlton Heston puts in a fine performance, but it seems odd to have an American in the role of Henry VIII. (Why I didn't have the same reservations about his Richelieu in The Three and Four Musketeers, I'm not sure... unless it was for the serious lack of Frenchmen in those films.)

Mark Lester seems completely out of place in the duel roles of Tom Canty and Edward, Prince of Wales. If memory serves, Edward was only ten years old at the time of Henry VIII's death. If they'd done the movie a decade earlier right off of Lester's "Oliver", perhaps it would have worked better. But, as it is, the 19 year old seems very awkward in the film. Other ducks out of water are Ernest Borgnine and Raquel Welch.

The costumes are marvelous. I can watch this movie just to enjoy the sets, scenery and other detail.
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I really rather like it...
loobyloo_6617 November 2004
My parents recorded this when my brother and I were learning English Tudor history in school, and has never lost its spark, although perhaps I still see it through my child eyes! The sets and costumes are fantastic, the all-star cast are all well cast, there's plenty of action and adventure and Oliver Reed is particularly a gem. "Your fingernails are filthy!" Although Mark Lester is fairly wooden and old for this role, I still think he was well cast. Great film for all the family, lots of action and fighting sequences, although more from Heston, Harrison and Welch would have been better, and also less of the American accents!!
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Star-studded version of Twain's Prince and the Pauper
mccarter1 October 1999
I haven't seen this movie in 20 years, but I remember going to it mostly because of the impressive cast. The lead, playing the dual roles of the prince and the pauper, was Mark Lester, lately of "Oliver". It was too "lately". By the time this movie came out, Lester was FAR too old for the part(s) of street urchin and child king. Charlton Heston (he's Henry VIII here) seems attracted to this phenomenon. He also did Treasure Island with a too old Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins. Anyway, Heston and the rest of the cast did fine jobs, and the picture is good fun if you can fully suspend disbelief in deep voiced Lester as an innocent child.
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Thoroughly Enjoyable
alanrhobson18 February 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of my favourite historical romps. It is enormous fun, and has many virtues. These include wonderful music from Maurice Jarre, fine costumes and set design, and an excellent cast. The action scenes are well staged, the plot involving, and the script provides both moving and amusing moments along the way. Even the title credits at the start of the film are attractively done.

Yes, there are some historical inaccuracies, but not as many as might be expected. For example, the Duke of Norfolk (played extremely well by Rex Harrison at his most charming) really was sentenced to death in the last weeks of Henry VIII's reign, and really was reprieved by Edward VI just before his execution. The inaccuracy is that in the film Norfolk is restored to power, whereas in reality he was kept in prison, and only released by Mary I six years later, on her accession.

The cast is so impressive that even away down the cast list, there are still fine British character actors such as Harry Fowler, Dudley Sutton, Don Henderson and Michael Ripper. The billing is somewhat odd (Raquel Welch is billed second, but has only slightly more lines than Dudley Sutton, billed 25th, and Charlton Heston has a large number of scenes and lines as Henry VIII, but only gets guest star billing at the very end of the cast list), but this is hardly a major flaw. Most of the cast do well, whatever the size of their role, and collectively they add much to the quality of the film.

All in all, I found this thoroughly enjoyable the first time I saw it, and I continue to find it so every time I have seen it since.
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Never succeeds either as a recreation of Tudor England or as a swashbuckling adventure
JamesHitchcock16 August 2006
The Tudor dynasty has always been popular with makers of dramas based upon English history- we have, for example, "Anne of the Thousand Days", "Mary Queen of Scots", "Lady Jane", "Elizabeth" and the two versions of "A Man for All Seasons". "The Prince and the Pauper" (I will use the British title rather than the American one) falls within this tradition, the main difference being that it is based upon a fictitious story rather than historical fact, even if Mark Twain did try and suggest that his tale was based upon an old legend which may have had a kernel of truth.

The idea is that Edward Prince of Wales, the only son of King Henry VIII, has an exact double in Tom Canty, a London street urchin and the son of a notorious thief. The two meet by chance when Tom, fleeing after stealing a purse, manages to break into the Tower of London. Edward, struck by the likeness, suggests that the two should exchange clothes for a joke, but the joke goes wrong when Tom is taken for the real Prince and Edward for a beggar. Edward is thrown out onto the street, leaving Tom behind in the Tower. Both find that they are unable to escape from their predicament; when they try to protest their real identities they are assumed to be mad.

Edward is befriended by Miles Hendon, a soldier of fortune recently returned from the Continent. Although Miles does not really believe Edward's story about being the Prince of Wales, he takes pity on him. When Miles attempts to return to his family home, however, he finds himself in a similar predicament. He finds that his wicked younger brother Hugh has forged a letter purporting to contain news of Miles's death and has used this not only to steal Miles's inheritance but also to marry his sweetheart Edith. Now it is Miles's turn to find that he is not believed when he proclaims his identity. Miles and Edward have to find a way to undo Hugh's wickedness as well as ensuring that the rightful heir is crowned King of England, Henry VIII having died during his son's absence.

The most curious thing about this film is the casting of Mark Lester in the dual role of Tom and Edward. As others have pointed out, Edward VI was only nine years old at the time of his accession, and only sixteen at the time of his death, so it was strange to cast the nineteen-year-old Lester in the role. Moreover, Lester was not convincing in either part, being too obviously well-bred and well-spoken for a Cockney guttersnipe and not regal enough for a Prince. The point of Twain's tale is that Tom, forced to assume the role of King against his will, finds himself growing in authority, whereas the haughty princeling Edward is humanised by his contact with the common people. There was no sense in this film of either of these developments taking place. This was Lester's last film, and it is clear why he joined the long list of child stars who did not go on to an acting career as an adult.

Few of the other acting contributions, with two exceptions, stand out. Raquel Welch, despite her second billing, has very little to do as Edith except stand about looking glamorous, and Rex Harrison as the Duke of Norfolk looks as though he is not taking anything seriously, even being sentenced to death for treason. The two exceptions are Charlton Heston as the ailing, care-worn Henry (very different to the autocratic younger man portrayed by Robert Shaw in "A Man for All Seasons" or Richard Burton in "Anne of the Thousand Days") and Oliver Reed, who makes an attractive Errol Flynn-style hero as Miles. (I have not seen Flynn's own version of this story from 1937, so cannot make comparisons).

Richard Fleischer was a very versatile director who could turn his hand to films in many different genres. His work also varied greatly in quality; he was capable of making a film as good as "Ten Rillington Place" but also one as laughably bad as "Red Sonja". "The Prince and the Pauper" falls somewhere between these two extremes. While never as bad as "Red Sonja" (few films are), it is a rather mediocre film which never succeeds either as a convincing recreation of Tudor England or as a swashbuckling adventure. 5/10

Some goofs. The story is set during the winter of 1546-47; Henry VIII died in January 1547 and Edward VI, as the film informs us, was crowned King in February. The film, however, was clearly shot during the summer months as all the trees are in leaf. Henry states, not long before his death, that he has been on the throne for thirty-five years; he ascended the throne in April 1509, so at this point he would have been king for over thirty-seven years.
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Crossed off...
JasparLamarCrabb9 June 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Not very good. This take on the Prince and the Pauper clearly wants to capture the swashbuckling lunacy of Richard Lester's THREE MUSKETEERS/FOUR MUSKETEERS but falls flat. This is due in large part to the fact that the director, Richard Fleischer, is resolutely unimaginative. Instead of slapstick, he offers up blandness. It's something that has dogged his long career. The casting of OLIVER's Mark Lester in dual roles doesn't help either. He has no personality as either prince or pauper. Oliver Reed, Raquel Welch, Charlton Heston and Sybil Danning (all of whom appeared in the Lester films) head the large cast, but none manages to register as anything special. Nor does Ernest Borgnine...and any film that wastes Rex Harrison must be viewed as very dubious indeed (note: this film may be dull, but it's light years better than the previous Fleischer/Harrison train wreck: DOCTOR DOLITTLE).
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Woth watching, but never quite takes off
TheLittleSongbird21 June 2010
Don't get me wrong I loved this film as a kid, but after revisiting it after five or six years, it didn't quite gel for me. Of course the sets, costumes and cinematography are superb, and the score is rousing enough. And the story is delightful, despite the fact it has been done to death so many times, while there is some great acting from Oliver Reed, Rex Harrison, George C. Scott and especially Ernest Borgnine in very meaty roles. However, despite all the extravagance and the fine acting from the supporting cast, there are shortcomings. Mark Lester is very unconvincing in the lead double role, while Raquel Welch looks alluring but she is left with little to work with. The direction never feels solid enough, while the pacing is uneven and the action like the direction lacks solidity. Overall, disappointing but worthwhile film adaptation. 5/10 Bethany Cox
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A classic swashbuckler
c-kelsall29 April 2008
Pah! Doesn't follow the book very closely (rhubarb, rhubarb!)... Frankly, who cares? The book was a work of fiction to start with, and this "version" of the story makes a classic '70's swashbuckler in the fashion of the Three Muskateers. It's got witty dialogue, colourful characters, an all-star cast, a good soundtrack and a happy ending. What more does anyone want? Okay, it was never going to be shortlisted for Oscars, but back then that was often a good sign (Kramer vs Kramer, anyone? Please, God, noooooo!!). If you like swash and buckle, and you've a few hours to kill, this will do the job, so don't dismiss it from your list of films to see. It's a little hard to find on DVD though.
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Straightforward version of "The Prince and the Pauper" when a parody might have sufficed...
moonspinner5517 October 2007
Rather chintzy retelling of Mark Twain's "The Prince and the Pauper", though one with a good director (Richard Fleischer) and a fine cast behind it. Mark Lester has the dual roles of the Crown Prince of England and his lookalike pauper who exchange places, and he's a decent young actor if a bit colorless. Older children might enjoy the film, though a comic rendering of the material may have been more successful. Fleischer is too literal and reverent to the text, and his pacing is often stilted. Audiences at this point were eager for a little broad satire and, while Oliver Reed and Raquel Welch do grace us with their presence, one waits in vain for someone like Marty Feldman or the Monty Python troupe to invade the territory and give it some juice. *1/2 from ****
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Lavish and Fun Adaptation.
peacham1 November 1999
This was always one of my favorite adventure films as a boy. a fine cast of legendary actors complimented the story wonderfully. Mark Lester was a bit old to play the title roles but, still a good young actor. George C Scott and Oliver Reed are standouts as is Sir Rex Harrison as the curmudeonly Duke of Norfolk. Harrison has the best line in the film when the King's Guards come to escort him to prison. "Oh, you are arresting me? I always thought that was an honor reserved for His Majestey's unfortunate wives." On the down side, Charleton Heston was ridiculous as an overly made up (and stuffed ) King Henry. Heston never seems to learn how limited an actor he is. Overall a very fun film that never bores and never makes you stop enjoying yourself.
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More Than You Bargain For
bkoganbing4 December 2007
For those who are expecting a straight telling of Mark Twain's story or a remake of the Errol Flynn classic, you're going to get more than you bargain for. The characters have been greatly expanded and several new ones have been created to give the plot a little more body.

Mark Lester, nine years after being the screen's Oliver, plays the dual role of Edward Tudor who becomes Edward VI of England and Tom Canty the beggar boy doppleganger. Young Tom is a much brighter lad and has been given the curse as his father Ernest Borgnine sees it of reading which encourages idleness. It's not good to be idle when your father is trying to teach you the family trade of thievery.

Tom's not cut out for it and one day in eluding pursuers he stumbles into the royal palace where Prince Edward notices the resemblance straight off. As a joke the two of them exchange clothing, but then the real Prince of Wales gets tossed out of the palace and back into Ernest Borgnine's clutches.

In the meantime King Henry VIII played by Charlton Heston with considerable padding is dying and shuffles off the mortal coil with Tom Canty given some real upward mobility, unheard of in Tudor England. And the real prince struggles dealing both with his father's death and how to get out of this predicament, making only one real friend out there, Oliver Reed as Miles Hendon.

Director Richard Lester was lucky enough to secure four Best Actor Oscar Winners for his cast, Borgnine, Heston, Rex Harrison as the Duke of Norfolk and George C. Scott as the Ruffler. My favorite in the film is Scott in the added role of the Ruffler, former monk now turned head of an outlaw band because Henry VIII closed the monasteries and looted them for his treasury. It's one droll and witty performance, Scott steals the film when he's in it.

The Ruffler is only addition to the plot. There's a subplot involving David Hemmings as Reed's brother Hugh stealing the family estate out from under Reed while he was serving abroad and his bride Raquel Welch besides. So Crossed Swords now deals with two usurped heirs.

Though I liked seeing all these people, I'm not sure that a more straight forward version of the story wouldn't have been better. Still the film is entertaining enough, but I think the classic Warner Brothers film is better.
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the fact they changed the name says it all..
A_Different_Drummer9 March 2017
For the record, this film when released was shamelessly called The Prince and the Pauper.

Do you remember the 70s? It helps if you do.

Having survived the post-war era, rock and roll, and the chaos the 60s, the 70s ushered in big hair, big disco, big cars, big meals and ... well you get the drift.

Especially big Hollywood productions like this one.

Against such a backdrop it is easy to imagine a bunch of studio suits looking at the wonderful 1947 version of the Prince and the Pauper (a version your humble reviewer has seen over a dozen times) and saying something like .. bah humbug we can do better.

No in fact, they could not. They could do it bigger and more lavish. But better is hardly a word I would use to describe a version so different in every way that, years after release, they even changed the title (presumably to avoid reviews just like this one.) The 1947 version is sweet and clever and constantly interesting. And very true to the original story.

This version, aside from the interesting attempt to cast Reed against type, is worth one watch, maybe and my guess is you will never want to see it again.

Advice? See the original. Accept no imitations.
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A star-studded cast in medieval England- based on Mark Twain's story
Petey-1020 November 2011
It's the year 1547.Prince Edward and pauper Tom Canty change clothes, so the other becomes the prince and the other becomes the pauper.They bear a striking resemblance to each other.There are many difficulties on the way to go back to their old professions.Crossed Swords (1977) is directed by Richard Fleischer.It's based on Mark Twain's novel The Prince and the Pauper from 1881.I read the book before I borrowed this movie on a VHS.There are some differences between the book and the movie, but it doesn't matter in any way.There is a great number of familiar names in the supporting cast.Mark Lester does a dual role as Prince Edward and Tom Canty.Ernest Borgnine plays Tom's sadistic father John.Sybil Danning plays his mother.Oliver Reed plays Miles Hendon and Raquel Welch his love interest, Lady Edith.George C. Scott plays The Ruffler.Rex Harrison is The Duke of Norfolk.David Hemmings plays Hugh Hendon.Lalla Ward and Felicity Dean play the parts of Princess Elizabeth and Lady Jane.Graham Stark is Jester.Harry Fowler is Nipper.Charlton Heston does the part of Henry VIII.This movie is rather fun to watch.It also brings out the differences between the lives of the rich and wealthy and those who are poor.Just like the book did.
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Blissful swashbuckling entertainment with a great cast
theycallmemrglass23 September 2008
Lets get the bad point out of the way quickly. Mark Lester. Wait, what am I saying? I'm not a sheep! Lester was excellent! If others do not think he cuts it is probably because he's acting against gods of Hollywood, HESTON, REED, G C SCOTT, REX HARRISON and EARNEST BORGININE. But I think he performed most admirably in dual roles which he played quite distinctly apart and with a modest amount of charisma. So thats the non existent bad point out of the way. Now let me throw in what really rocks the movie. Lets start with Charlton Heston as King Henry VIII. Majestic, funny, and brutal. He well and truly steals every second of screen time he's on. Oliver Reed, the outcast swashbuckling hero trounces around with his usual bullish but dynamic presence, and fights in his own unique Reed style. George C Scott turns in yet another memorably hilarious (if rather too short) comedic role as an ex monk turned king of thieves. Rex Harrison as a monk adviser to the king plays his part with ultra cool prose and wisdom. And no one plays a really bad man as good as the great Earnest Borgnine who plays the brutish evil father of the pauper. The movie is flooded with great character actors who are all clearly having fun entertaining us and boy do they entertain. The story zips along confidently. The period detail is exquisite and lavish. Raquel Welch adds to the beauty of the movie canvas. And to top it off, a wonderfully spirited soundtrack have me humming days after each time I watch this movie. Pure blissful swashbuckling entertainment.
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Prince and the Pauper revisited.
Blueghost25 September 2011
Hot on the heels of the Salkind Musketeer films, Oliver Reed and a cast well knowns (Welch, Harris, Borgnine, Scott, et al), grace the screen in this very well done period piece regarding Samuel "Mark Twain" Clemmens more popular works regarding Renaissance England.

Lots of art direction and top rate thesping went into this film to bring alive a violent period fill with intrigue, we witness the improbable but plausible exchange of personas; royalty takes on the guise of a pauper, and vice versa. We witness the adventures and misadventures of the Prince of Wales and his companion gallivant dangerously around London and beyond.

Likewise we see the low born try to navigate and negotiate, and ultimately accept and become accustomed to wearing the crown of a world power. From nothing to master of England and beyond, his mastery of upper life is as entertaining and eventful as his willing impostor's acceptance of street life.

For a film designed to ride the coat tails of the musketeer films, it's remarkably well shot and overall well put together. If I had one gripe with this film, and I'm not sure that I do, it's that the music isn't quite majestic enough for a renaissance tale penned by a Yankee. That is perhaps intentional, for there is a comic underscore here, but it seems that perhaps the tale of royal awakening and serf uplift should embody a more noble set of musical chords, or perhaps something akin to the post medieval equivalent of "James Bond". For indeed are we not witnessing a type of "secret agent" film, albeit without the spectre (no pun intended) of global peril?

Overall an extremely enjoyable film for the history minded to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon. A top notch cast for a respectable film with very respectable production values.

Give it a try, and enjoy.
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Funny, fast and fantastical
parsifalssister4 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
While many have mentioned the young Tom/Edward was poorly played or cast, I found that this seeming parody of Twain's Prince and the Pauper undoubtedly needed an older version to meet head-on with the presentation.

It has many laugh out loud moments, stylised performances by Reed, Harrison, Heston and others, all of whom support the young 19 year old Mark Lester, as he leads a thoroughly miserable few days as a pauper. His portrayal of the Prince is sturdier, but both sides of the role are engrossing and satisfying. Scott is outstanding as the Ruffler and Borgnine is true to his reputation as nasty John Canty. In fact, it is these performances, over-sized and bold that add to my notion of it's parody quality.

Reed is terrific as the rough and ready, but not always successful Miles Hendron, and the few scenes in which Harrison appears as the notorious Duke of Norfolk are nearly as hilarious as his claim to fame role as Professor Henry Higgins.

The plot line moved quickly across the screen, the costumes and scenery added to the character of the film, which in some ways nearly appeared as a theatre piece and a mighty good one at that.

We owe Mark Twain much credit for the concept, but this production makes it glow with humour and originality.
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