Miles Hendon: Well, of the three of them for a gentleman without means I think it’s the most amusing. Cheating at cards means associating with dull people. Preaching the gospel means wearing one of those funny hats.
Despite its stellar cast, this dress rehearsal for The Adventures of Robin Hood goes on too long.
In an alternative reality, Henry VIII of England is on his death bed. Edward, the spoiled Prince of Wales, enjoys playing with Elizabeth and Lady Jane Grey and terrorizing the servants. One day, he takes a walk in the palace grounds and discovers urchin Tom Canty being beaten by the guards. He takes a liking to the lad and brings him inside. They notice their uncanny resemblance to each other and, on a lark, switch clothes. Edward goes out in Tom’s rags to fetch his dog and is nabbed by the guard who promptly eject him.
Edward is rescued from another beating at the hands of Tom’s father (Barton MacLane) by intrepid soldier of fortune Miles Hendon (Errol Flynn) and the two become friends. Meanwhile, Henry VIII dies with the imposter still in the castle. Evil Earl of Hertford (Claude Rains) discovers the boy’s identity. He uses the situation to get himself named High Protector, something that never would have been allowed by the real Edward who hates him, and sets out to eliminate the true King. Can the boys be restored to their stations before Tom is crowned King? With the Mauch Twins as Tom and Edward and Alan Hale as the Captain of the Guard.
This movie does not have nearly enough Errol Flynn, who does not appear until midway through the story. The screen lights up when either he or Rains is on it then reverts to torpor during the many long scenes with the twins. The coronation scene is particularly tedious. The twins are actually not so bad — it is their material that could use some work. The film does boast a fine score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold and lavish art direction by Robert M. Haas.