The Man in the Iron Mask (1939)

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German title The man in the iron mask
Original title The Man in the Iron Mask
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1939
length 113 minutes
Age rating FSK 12
Director James Whale
script George Bruce
production Edward Small
production company United Artists
music Lucien Moraweck
Lud Gluskin
camera Robert H. Planck
cut Grant Whytock

The Man in the Iron Mask (Original title: The Man in the Iron Mask ) is an adventure film of 1939 , in which James Whale directed. Louis Hayward can be seen in a double role as King Louis XIV and his brother Philippe. The female lead is occupied by Joan Bennett .

The film adaptation goes back to Alexandre Dumas' d. Ä. Roman Le Vicomte de Bragelonne (German title: The Viscount of Bragelonne ; Ten Years Later and The Man with the Iron Mask ).


The year is 1638 and all of France is waiting for the birth of an heir to the throne. Happy King Ludwig XIII. his newborn son Ludwig to the court and his people. When he learns from his Prime Minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert that the Queen has had twins and he has another son, Colbert persuades him that this could spark a civil war , which could lead to a division of the throne, and that the next one Son of the royal couple must therefore live in exile. It was therefore decided that the child, who was given the name Philippe, would be placed in the care of the captain of the musketeers, D'Artagnan , who was loyal to the king and who was to take his now fatherless and motherless son to Gascony .

Twenty years later, Louis, the first-born son, was decried under the name of Louis XIV. King of France and the people as a little loved king who tended to waste and tyranny. As an advisor, he has taken the crafty Nicolas Fouquet at his side, who also manages the finances. Fouquet knows that the king has a brother who is living in exile and fears that he might one day show up to assert claims to the throne. Since Fouquet does not want to endanger his influential position, he comes up with the plan to have Philippe eliminated. To do this, he sends tax collectors to Gascony and gets D'Artagnan and Philippe as well as friends of the two to defend themselves against the horrendously high demands, which has the consequence that the king orders their arrest. So the men are brought to Paris , where Ludwig first sees his twin brother. When the king learned of an assassination attempt on him that same day , he had the idea to use the resemblance that existed between himself and Philippe for his own purposes. With the promise to release his friends if he replaces him if necessary, he hijacks the doppelganger without both knowing that they are in truth brothers. Today Philippe is to represent the king on a visit to the site of the planned assassination attempt. Of course, he doesn't warn Philippe of the impending danger. This is attacked, but comes back unharmed. The king always uses his doppelganger when an appointment is a nuisance to him.

Since Ludwig is about to get married for reasons of state, Philippe subsequently meets his future wife Maria Theresa , who has meanwhile arrived at court , and falls in love with the beautiful young princess. Ludwig, however, would like to continue his wild life as casually as before and keeps postponing the wedding because there is also his lover Louise de La Vallière . When Maria Theresa found out about the love affair, she felt deeply humiliated and fled back to her native Spain . Colbert asks Philippe to slip into the role of the king and bring Maria Theresa back because he is urgently interested in a union between France and Spain. Philippe agrees to do so and also manages to get the young woman to return. At the same time he freed his friend D'Artagnan and the other musketeers from the Bastille and sent them to Bordeaux . When Ludwig, the real king, returns, he is indignant about what has happened and wants to let Philippe down. However, Colbert reveals to him that he is his twin brother. Since the king is afraid of losing his throne, he develops the diabolical plan to make his brother unrecognizable with an iron mask and lock him up in the notorious Paris prison, the Bastille, inseparable from his iron mask. When Philippe's friends learn of his fate, they return under the guidance of D'Artagnan. Colbert has now revealed Philippe's identity to Maria Theresa and so she manages to steal the key to the mask that he wears around his neck from the king, who fell asleep while drunk. With the help of the key, the musketeers manage to free Philippe. The drunken king is taken to the Bastille in the place of Philippe. This means that Philippe is now taking his place as king. Colbert's suggestion to marry Maria Theresa immediately he is happy to follow. The wedding celebrations are to take place in Fontainebleau Castle .

King Ludwig succeeds in sending a message to his corrupt minister Fouquet, who ensures that the king is released. Both men also set off for Fontainebleau in a carriage. Between the vehicles - D'Artagnan and the Musketeers are also on their way to Fontainebleau - there is a wild chase in which the king's horses shy away, so that the king's carriage crashes over a cliff into the Seine . The king's face with the iron mask reappears at the window of the carriage before it goes down for good. Maria Theresa and Philippe promise each other in the Church of Fontainebleau for a life together and also include France, where there should be more justice in the future, in their wishes.

Production and other film adaptations

The film had a production period from February 26 to April 25, 1939. The shooting lasted from February 25 to March 25, 1939. The shooting was in the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden in California in the United States .

The film premiered in Hollywood on June 26, 1939 . It started operating in the Federal Republic of Germany on April 18, 1950 and in Austria on September 15, 1950.

Louis Hayward played the role of D'Artagnan in another 1952 film adaptation of the subject. With the different characters of the brothers, Whale wanted to represent good and evil, a benevolent being on the one hand and a tyrannical character on the other. Because only one actor was chosen, it should be emphasized that people usually have many contradicting characteristics and that different sides can belong to the same coin.

The later actor in numerous horror films, Peter Cushing , made his screen debut in this film.

According to an article in Variety , Sigrid Gurie and Frances Dee were cast in the lead, and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was cast in the title role. There are various film adaptations of the novels by Alexandre Dumas the Elder. Ä., Including a silent film version from 1929 by Allan Dwan with Douglas Fairbanks senior in the lead role. In 1977 Mike Newell filmed the story with Richard Chamberlain in the lead role. Another version dates from 1998 and is directed by William Richert and starring Edward Albert . In 1998, directed by Randall Wallace, another version with Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role was made. For other films see also The Man with the Iron Mask - Film .

Historical reference

Louis XIV (1638–1715), known as the Sun King, had been King of France and Navarre since 1643. He is considered a classic representative of courtly absolutism . At 72 years on the throne, he was the longest reigning monarch in European history. His parents were Louis XIII. (1601–1643) and Anna of Austria (1601–1666). His brother, Duke Philip I d'Orléans , was born in 1640. In 1660 Ludwig married the daughter of the Spanish King Maria Teresa (1638–1683) for political reasons . Maria Teresa was the youngest daughter of Philip IV. The conclusion of this marriage in 1660 sealed the peace between France and Habsburg Spain, which had been agreed after a long war. Maria Teresa died at the age of 44.

It was Jules Mazarin (1602–1661) who prepared Ludwig for his role as king after his father's death. He was considered a "gray eminence" (based on the "red eminence" Cardinal Richelieu) because he was next to the king, the real ruler, who after the death of Louis XIII. exercised the reign for the still underage King Louis XIV. When he died the king was 22 years old. Cardinal Mazarin is said to have consciously influenced that Philip (e) was not brought up to be a potential heir to the throne. Philippe's homosexuality was an open secret. In 1661 he was married to Henrietta Anne Stuart , a sister of Charles II of England , another marriage followed in 1671 to Elisabeth Charlotte, known as Liselotte von der Pfalz .

One of the king's most important ministers was Finance Minister Nicolas Fouquet (1615–1680). Ludwig later had him arrested for corruption and high treason and replaced by Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619–1683), who was loyal to him. Fouquet was taken to the Pignerol ( Pinerolo ) fortress in 1665 , where he died in 1680. During his detention, he had contact with the man in the iron mask . The man in the iron mask was an unknown and mysterious state prisoner of Louis XIV. There are various hypotheses as to who he really was. Voltaire advocated the thesis that the prisoner was a twin brother of Louis XIV. Even Marcel Pagnol advocated this theory. Another theory is that the man in the mask was an illegitimate child of Anna of Austria. For further theories, see Hypotheses on the Identity of the Man in the Iron Mask .

Charles D'Artagnan (between 1611 / 1615–1673) made a brilliant career under Louis XIV with the French musketeers of the Guard. He fell in the Franco-Dutch War . In fact, in 1660 he escorted the young Louis XIV to marry the Infanta Maria Teresa of Spain. D'Artagnan became famous for the surprise arrest of Nicolas Fouquet in 1661.

Alexandre Dumas' novels The Three Musketeers , Twenty Years Later and The Viscount of Bragelonne ( The Man in the Iron Mask ) date back to D'Artagnan's life, which was already Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras (1644–1712), a former soldier and author of Roman biographies, described in his novel Les mémoires de M. d'Artagnan . The three musketeers consist - as the novel by Alexandre Dumas shows - of d'Artagnan and his three friends Athos, Portos and Aramis.

Cardinal Richelieu (1585–1642) was under Louis XIII from 1624 until his death. as the first minister, the decisive political figure in French politics.

Louise de La Vallière (1644–1710) was a mistress of Louis XIV.


The film was dubbed for the German market in 1950.

role actor Voice actor
King Louis XIV / Philippe Louis Hayward Wolfgang Preiss
Maria Theresa Joan Bennett Ursula Traun
D'Artagnan Warren William Werner Lieven
Fouquet Joseph Schildkraut Rudolf Schündler
Colbert Walter Kingsford Herbert Gernot
King Louis XIII Albert Dekker Arnold Marquis


The lexicon of international film summarized its criticism in the sentence: “Extra-long, viscous adventure film based on a historical model.” The film magazine Cinema drew the conclusion “more peppy than the Leo DiCaprio version!” And previously stated that director James Whale “ Alexandre Dumas' novel was filmed as a baroque costume adventure with verve and a pinch of horror. "The TV magazine prisma was of the opinion that James Whale" enriched his film adaptation of the adventure material with other motifs by adding a Gothic romanticism [ created] and a fascinating dimension of the unreal. "Whale is" a distinctive stylist who [was] known above all for his Frankenstein film. " Frank S. Nugent means that it is not quite the daring story that one is expected, but still a moderately entertaining costume piece, the length of which corresponds to Dumas' novel, but does not develop its effectiveness. He thinks the film is well cast except for Marian Martin, who seems absurd. Louis Hayward's performance in the double role is met with approval that he has “a pleasant style” that fits well into the romantic period. Joan Bennett in the role of the Spanish Infanta with dark curls manages to be "decorative and colorless at the same time."


At the Oscar ceremony in 1940 was Lucien Moraweck and Lud Gluskin for best original score for the film The Man in the Iron Mask ( Man in the Iron Mask The ) nominated. The Oscar went to the movie The Wizard of Oz ( The Wizard of Oz ) and Herbert Stothart for his composed for the soundtrack.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. a b The man with the iron mask at Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  2. a b The man with the iron mask at Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  3. The Man in the Iron Mask at TCM - Turner Classic Movies.
  4. The Man with the Iron Mask ( Memento of the original from March 5, 2016 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Retrieved January 17, 2013. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  5. The Man with the Iron Mask in the Lexicon of International FilmsTemplate: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used . Retrieved January 17, 2013.
  6. ^ The Man in the Iron Mask Frank S. Nugent in The New York Times , published July 14, 1939 (English text). Retrieved January 17, 2013.