Paramount made a happy choice in deciding to turn out a new version of the adventures of Francois Villon. Ronald Colman’s delineation of the adventurous poet-philosopher is excellent, carrying through it a verve and spontaneity for an outstanding performance. Basil Rathbone brilliantly handles the difficult assignment of the eccentric, weazened Louis XI.
Preston Sturges has provided much sparkling dialog [from the play by Justin Huntly McCarthy] to greatly enhance entertainent.
After quickly establishing Villon as the hero and leader of the Paris mobs, events bring him and the king together. Appointed grand constable of France and Brittany by the mischief-conniving Louis, in the palace Villon champions the people against the king and his arrogant advisers – to the amusement of Louis. But the latter soon tires of his amusement with Villon, and is ready to put him on a gibbet.
Newcomer Ellen Drew handles the difficult role of Huguette, girl of the slums, for one of the outstanding performances. Interpretation of Katherine by Frances Dee is delivered with sincerity.