Review
The Adventures of the Prince and the Pauper
(aka THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER)
(1969, U.S./Wales) color 66 minutes
Storyland Films/Childhood Productions (December release)
National Screen Service #69-305
Story: Mark Twain (based on his novel) (uncredited)
Story: adapted from the Joseph Beinhorn stage production,
written by Verna Woskoff
Screenplay: Elliot Geisinger, Alex Tartaglia
Cinematography: Albert Mozell
Associate Producer: Joseph Beinhorn
European Coordinator: Countess Patricia Giri de Teramala
Narrator: Alan Jefferys
Narration written by Burt Sloane, Jay Anson
Music: George Fischoff, Verna Woskoff
Produced by Marcel Broekman, Ronald Saland
Directed by Elliot P. Geisinger
Barry sings 'ALMS FOR A PAUPER BOY'
With: Kenny Morse (Prince Edward), Barry Pearl (Tom Canty), Gene Bua (Miles Hendon),
Barbara Huston (Lady Anne), Michael Brill (Lord Chamberlain), Tom Fleetwood (John Canty)
Plot Outline: A young beggar and a young prince, both bored with their lives, decide to switch
places and experience the life they long for. The experiment goes haywire, with both boys in
danger of being trapped in their surrogate lives.
If Grade-Z horror icon Andy Milligan made a Children's Musical, it might look
very much like this most unusual Kiddie Matinee offering; a full-fledged period
musical fantasy performed in the English language. And we mean this in the
best way; THE ADVENTURES OF THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER is one of the
most engaging and accomplished independent feature films geared for the
childrens' market that we have ever seen.
Filmed in Ireland, AOPP unfolds very much like an outdoor stage play (which
in fact it was, the film being based on an obscure stage production by Joseph
Beinhorn and Verna Woskoff). The enthusiastic actors all spout heavy Cockney
accents as they playfully chew the attractive scenery. The film boasts arty
cutting, hand-helf fotog and edgy pov close-ups.
Although obviously a budget picture, AOPP has handsome production values.
The evocative Welsh locations include stables, castles and thatched huts. As
most of the picture is filmed outdoors, this "found" production design gives the
picture quite a visual boost. The bizarre and elaborate costuming is also
eyecatching (and ubiquitous).
But what is perhaps most endearing about this low-budget melodrama is its bouncy faux-Broadway score.
Large groups break into merry song every few minutes or so, and although the songs are fairly
predictable, their mounting is not without charm. Pickwick Records released an original soundtrack
album.
Put this all together, and you have a very happy, very lively, very "real" late '60s curiosity. It combines
elements of traditional historical film drama (ala ROBIN HOOD), with refreshing touches of the new
wave. It evokes both OLIVER TWIST and FUTZ.
Title boys Edward and Tom (Kenny Morse and
Barry Pearl) are both long-haired Bobby Sherman
wannabes, thus lending a "hippie fable" air to the proceedings. Of course, neither boy likes the switch,
but they are trapped by similar identities, circumstance, and their particular social rituals.
Edward the "beggar" suffers unrelenting cruelty from his peers and his bully "father". Tom,
meanwhile, is bored out of his skull as the resident "Prince," even though he is treated to unlimited
food, entertainment and wenches. And there is a political conspiracy afoot to dethrown him, of course.
A very strange "knight" named Miles (Gene Bua), and a lovely lady in waiting named Anne (Barbara
Huston) provide the love interest. (Cult fans may recognize Gene Bua as Lt. Clark in the U.S. sequences
of GAMMERA THE INVINCIBLE, 1965!) There is also a very Peter O'Toole-ish villain, played by
Michael Brill.
There are some fairly effective comic chases, punctuated by harpsichord music. Hell, there's even an
exciting swashbuckling scene!
The climax, an impending "fake" coronation, takes place in a gorgeous, ivy-covered cathedral abbey,
certainly one of the handsomest locations one could ever hope for.
Ironically, the exemplary THE ADVENTURES OF THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER turned out to be
Childhood Productions' last release. This film, and others, suggest what CP might have been able to do,
given more time: increase exposure to and raise the level of world children's cinema. A lofty goal for
sure, but a noble one.
Producers Geisinger and Saland went on to infamy directing the "making of" short film WIZ ON
DOWN THE ROAD. Director Geisinger went on to produce such heavyweights as THE AMITYVILLE
HORROR and THE NIGHT THE LIGHTS WENT OUT IN GEORGIA.

"We may be beggars and thieves, but one thing we ain't guilty of is treason!"

"One law for the rich, another for the poor..."

Video/DVD availability: VHS (Kid Rhino Video)