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Encyclopedia > The Man in the Iron Mask (1939 film)

The Man in the Iron Mask is a 1939 film adaption of the last section of the novel The Vicomte de Bragelonne by Alexandre Dumas, which is itself based on the French legend of The Man in the Iron Mask. It was directed by James Whale and stars Louis Hayward as the twins, Joan Bennett as Princess Maria Theresa, Warren William as D'Artagnan, and Joseph Schildkraut as Fouquet. // Movie historians and film buffs often look back on the year 1939 as the greatest year in film history (see below: 1939 in film#Films released in 1939, for a list with over 20 classics). ... The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later (Le Vicomte de Bragelonne ou Dix ans plus tard) is a novel by Alexandre Dumas, père. ... Alexandre Dumas redirects here. ... The Man in the Iron Mask was a prisoner believed to have been held in the Bastille prison from an unknown date to his death on November 19, 1703. ... This is a page about the film director James Whale. ... Louis Hayward, born Seafield Grant, (March 19, 1909-February 21, 1985), was a British actor born in Johannesburg, South Africa. ... Joan Bennett on the December, 1945 issue of Movie Story Magazine Joan Geraldine Bennett (February 27, 1910 – December 7, 1990) was an American film actress who also achieved success later in life as a television actress. ... Warren William (2 December 1894 - 24 September 1948) was a Broadway and Hollywood actor, born Warren William Krech in Aitkin, Minnesota. ... Joseph Schildkraut (March 22, 1896 – January 21, 1964) was a film actor. ...


Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

The 1929 adaption alters the plot significantly by making Fouquet the throughly evil, scheming mastermind of the film. He, D'Artagnan and the musketeers are the only ones who know of the existence of a twin brother, and Fouquet uses his influence to keep everyone silenced. The main story was changed by portraying Louis XIV as selfish, cruel, and incompetent, and Philippe the kind-hearted brother who is raised by D'Artagnan and the musketeers and does not even know that he has an identical twin. When the truth is discovered, Louis XIV has Philippe imprisoned with the iron mask placed on him, hoping that Philippe's beard will grow inside the mask and eventually strangle him. Philippe is rescued by the musketeers, who break into the sleeping Louis's chamber and imprison him in the mask. The guards drag off Louis and lock him in the tower, mistaking him for the escaped Philippe. When Louis manages to get a message to Fouquet, he is freed, and a chase by coach ensues to stop Philippe from marrying Princess Maria Theresa, (ensuring an alliance with Spain) and taking Louis' place on the throne. The coach is waylaid by the musketeers, who all die heroically, but Fouquet and the real Louis XIV are also killed when the driverless coach plunges off a cliff. The mortally wounded D'Artagnan survives long enough to exclaim "Long live the King!" at Phillippe's wedding, and then falls dead in the throne room. Philippe finally, and rightfully, according to the film, assumes the throne.

Spoilers end here.


Most subsequent film versions, including the 1977 film and the 1979 version, have followed the basic outline of the 1939 film, not of the original novel or the 1929 film.

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