|The King's Thief|
|Directed by||Robert Z. Leonard|
Hugo Fregonese (uncredited)
|Written by||Christopher Knopf|
|Based on||story by Robert Hardy Andrews|
|Produced by||Edwin H. Knopf|
|Edited by||John McSweeney, Jr.|
|Music by||Miklós Rózsa|
The King's Thief is a 1955 swashbuckling CinemaScope adventure film directed by Robert Z. Leonard, who replaced Hugo Fregonese during filming. Released on August 5, 1955, the film takes place in London at the time of Charles II and stars Ann Blyth, Edmund Purdom, David Niven, George Sanders and Roger Moore.
James (Niven), the Duke of Brampton and the richest man in England, is so trusted by King Charles II (Sanders), he is able to have two of the King's loyal friends executed for treason. The second is the father of Lady Mary (Blyth). She travels from France to London to seek justice. While there, she meets Michael Dermott (Purdom), a soldier who fought to restore Charles to the throne.
He and many others were never paid for their services, unbeknownst to the King. He therefore turned highwayman. He and his comrades rob the Duke and come into possession of the Duke's notebook. In it are listed twelve rich and powerful people, as well as details of their possessions. Two names are crossed out; it does not take long for Michael to realize that the other ten are in peril for their lives. Michael first tries to blackmail the Duke, but without much success. A fence named Simon betrays his hiding place. Michael and his comrade Jack (Moore) escape from the Duke's soldiers, though Michael is wounded in the shoulder. Adventure abounds as the Duke tries to retrieve his property before it can be used against him.
- Ann Blyth as Lady Mary
- Edmund Purdom as Michael Dermott
- David Niven as James - Duke of Brampton
- George Sanders as Charles II
- Roger Moore as Jack
- John Dehner as Captain Herrick
- Sean McClory as Sheldon
- Tudor Owen as Simon
- Melville Cooper ... Henry Wynch
- Alan Mowbray ... Sir Gilbert Talbot
- Rhys Williams ... Turnkey
- Joan Elan ... Charity Fell
- Charles Davis ... Apothecary
- Ashley Cowan ... Skene
- Ian Wolfe ... Fell
- Paul Cavanagh ... Sir Edward Scott
- Lillian Kemble-Cooper ... Mrs. Fell
- Isobel Elsom ... Mrs. Bennett
- Milton Parsons ... Adam Urich
- Jacob Hall ... Lord Layton
- Queenie Leonard ... Apothecary's Wife
- Owen McGiveney ... Hoskins
- Robert Dix ... Husky
- Michael Dugan ... Husky
- James Logan ... Guard
- Jimmy Aubrey ... Little Man (uncredited)
- Leonard Carey ... Servant (uncredited)
- Leslie Denison ... Beadle (voice) (uncredited)
- Ronald Green ... Hired Swordsman (uncredited)
- Peter Hansen ... Isaac Newton (uncredited)
- Ramsay Hill ... Lord (uncredited)
- Charles Keane ... Guard (uncredited)
- Keith McConnell ... Usher (uncredited)
- John Monaghan ... Shaddy (uncredited)
- Matt Moore ... Gentleman (uncredited)
- Clive Morgan ... Captain of Guards (uncredited)
- Vesey O'Davoren ... Courier (uncredited)
- Gordon Richards ... Courier (uncredited)
- Lewis L. Russell ... Gentleman (uncredited)
- Gilchrist Stuart ... Clerk (uncredited)
- Trevor Ward ... Perspiring Man (uncredited)
- Trude Wyler ... Celestine (uncredited)
MGM had a big hit at the box office with Ivanhoe (1951), a swashbuckling adventure film, leading to them making a cycle of such films. In October 1952 they announced they would make The King's Thief based on an original story by Robert Hardy Andrews about an Irish patriot during the reign of Charles II (likely based on Thomas Blood). Edwin Knopf was to produce and Knopf's son Christopher wrote the script. It was originally envisioned as a vehicle for Stewart Granger, who had recently made a swashbuckler for the studio, The Prisoner of Zenda 1952).
Filming started 15 December 1954 under the direction of Hugo Fregonese. By early January, Fregonese had been replaced by MGM veteran Robert Z. Leonard who had been in semi-retirement since completing Her Twelve Men (1954) about twelve months previously. The Los Angeles Times reported that Fregonese and Edward Knopf "did not see eye to eye during production."
The cast included wrestler Lord Layton who played guard Jacob Hall who fought Edmund Purdom.
According to MGM records the film earned only $478,000 in the US and Canada and $1,071,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss to the studio of $707,000.
The Los Angeles Times called it "glittering and excellently made."
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- METRO AGAIN PLANS PERIOD FILM FOR '53: ' The King's Thief,' Dealing With Irish Patriot in Reign of Charles II to Be in Color By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 30 Oct 1952: 40.
- Looking at Hollywood: Stewart Granger Will Play Role of an Irish Pugilist Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 30 Oct 1952: c4.
- Granger Awarded 'King's Thief' Lead Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 4 Apr 1953: A2.
- Pryor, Thomas (1 Feb 1954). "METRO STRESSING CINEMASCOPE USE: Five of Eight Films to Be Done in April and May Set for Wide Screen". New York Times. p. 19.
- MGM Lists 8 Major Pictures for Production Los Angeles Times 1 Feb 1954: 27.
- Schallert, Edwin (3 Sep 1954). "Wilding Soon to Delve Into Villainy; New Patty Andrews Film Charted". Los Angeles Times. p. B7.
- Stars Are on Time (Miracle) at Party for Field Marshal Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune 3 Dec 1954: b10.
- SPIEGEL ACQUIRES BOOK FILM RIGHTS: Producer Hopes to Get John Ford to Direct 'The Bridge Over the River Kwai' By THOMAS M. PRYOR New York Times 20 Nov 1954: 10.
- Odets to Script Bible Subject; MacMurray 'Blood Alley' Potential Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 14 Jan 1955: A9.
- Kashmiri Song' Hailed as India Venture; Lang Rules Cinema Festival Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 25 Dec 1954: 9.
- Dog's Life Dramatically Told in 'Bar Sinister' Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times 6 Oct 1955: A6.