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“King’s Rhapsody” (1955) Flynn’s last with Anna Neagle

15 Aug

“King’s Rhapsody” was the second and last film that Errol Flynn had co-starred in with British Movie Queen Anna Neagle, the follow-up to their successful “Lilacs In The Spring” earlier that year in 1955. Neagle’s movie mogul husband Herbert Wilcox produced and directed this lavish production shot in the expensive CinemaScope process and filmed in beautiful EastmanColor with a cast of thousands. Unfortunately “King’s Rhapsody” is a misfire and an outright dud. Worst of all it’s boring.  Based on the beloved Ivor Novello West end musical about a fictional Balkan kingdom, Laurentia and it’s playboy Crown Prince and later King Ricki (Errol Flynn) who loves his mistress Marta (Anna Neagle) but is forced to marry the Princess Cristiane of Norseland (Flynn’s wife Patrice Wymore). In spite of the gorgeous Barcelona, Spain scenery capture by Wilcox’s cameras, movie audiences have to sit through one endless song after another including a boring six-minute ballet danced by Wymore, who has the best-looking legs in films with the possible exception of Cyd Charisse. When Errol Flynn is allowed to act, he delivers a powerful, dramatic performance as the star-crossed monarch destined to lose both his crown, his kingdom, and his son.  However Flynn is used as a handsome smiling prop as both Anna Neagle and Patrice Wymore constantly sing and dance around his character.  After the first few songs, Errol Flynn looks downright embarrassed which probably explains his bad behavior during the making of the film as reported by Anna Neagle herself in a TV interview. Unlike the charming, under-rated “Lilacs In The Spring”, “King’s Rhapsody” was a box office stinker in both Great Britain and the USA. Neagle’s cinema career was also mortally wounded by the film as she made only four more films before retiring. On a positive note, the “King’s Rhapsody” DVD sold on Amazon is a beautiful, pristine widescreen version of the film.  Ralph Schiller

— rswilltell

 
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  1. Bob Schaffer

    August 16, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Ralph which dvd of film are you referring to I may have the wrong one. Thanks

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  2. rswilltell

    August 16, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    Bob; Amazon.com… is selling a DVD from Nostalgia Family for $8.99, all regions. This is the version I reviewed and it is a bargain at that. Thanks Ralph Schiller

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  3. robjack

    August 19, 2016 at 7:29 am

    Thanks Ralph for this insight into one of Errol’s more interesting (but ultimately unsuccessful) films. It’s always been well established that KR was a failure not only in the UK (unlike Lilacs in the Spring) but also in other major markets.

    Do you know its release history in the USA? I’ve read briefly that it was released there sometime in 1957?

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    • rswilltell

      August 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm

      Robjack; Yes you are correct in that ‘King’s Rhapsody’ had an anemic USA release in 1957 through United Artists. He returned stateside and made the ‘B+’ film ‘Istanbul’ for Universal Pictures. To Flynn’s surprise it made a profit for Universal. However the studio was expert at modestly producing quickies in Technicolor (the film processor dropped the gorgeous Three -Strip process for routine color) and successfully marketing them. Usually they starred Jeff Chandler or Joel McCrea, or even Fred MacMurray (who starred in an earlier better version on ‘Istanbul’, ‘Singapore’ in 1947 with Ava Gardner), but Flynn was lucky this time! Ralph Schiller

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