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The King's Thief

The King's Thief(1955)

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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In 17th century England, James, Duke of Brampton, calls on King Charles II to sign a death warrant against yet another former ally now accused of treason. As the duke departs, a notebook falls out of his coat, and he nervously retrieves it before the king can look inside. Meanwhile, in Normandy, Sir Edward Scott calls on Lady Mary, who has been in exile for ten years, and sadly reports that her father has been hanged for treason. Edward reads a letter from Mary's late father, alluding to the king's treacherous counselors, then mentions rumors that half of what Brampton confiscates for the crown goes into his own pocket. Enraged, Mary vows to return to England and avenge her father. One night, Brampton's coach is waylaid by masked highwaymen, who take his notebook along with his possessions. Later, at the highwaymen's hideout in a tavern, fence Henry Wynch refuses to buy the jewels, and their leader, Michael Dermott, deduces the identity of their victim. Michael inspects Brampton's book and finds it contains the names of various noblemen, along with a complete accounting of their wealth and a date. Later, Mary goes to an exclusive gambling club in London and seats herself at Brampton's table. After Mary has lost all her money and a broach, Michael approaches and places the stolen jewels on the table, offering to redeem her losses. Michael discreetly mentions the notebook, promising to contact the duke later. Michael escorts Mary to her lodgings, and tells her that he and his men fought in the militia restoring the king to the throne but were never paid. Mary tells Michael about her father, and he is about to kiss her when Brampton and his men show up. Brampton says Michael has been heard uttering treasonous remarks, and suggests that he might save his life by returning the notebook. He sends Michael with his men to retrieve the book, but Michael's cohorts rescue him. Later, the thieves realize that the first two names in the duke's notebook are those of men recently hanged for treason, and speculate that the other people on the list might be willing to pay for information about their scheduled execution. The duke's men suddenly show up, and Michael is shot and wounded while escaping with his comrade Jack. They take refuge at the home of a Quaker family, who promptly take Michael in and tend his wounds. In the morning, Jack returns with Mary, and Michael shows her the book. Just then, Brampton shows up with his men and, after defeating Michael in a fencing match, arrests Michael and Jack and retrieves the book. Michael's two other comrades, Sheldon and Skene, remain at large, however, and Brampton orders Mary to go to Michael's cell that night and learn their whereabouts, threatening to deport her to the colonies if she fails. At the prison, Mary gives Michael a knife and urges him to escape, and Michael tells her the name of their hideout. In the coach to Brampton's, Mary feigns illness and asks to be taken to the apothecary, who is the son-in-law of her loyal servant Simon. Simon is waiting there for her, and he and his family help Mary escape. Meanwhile, Michael uses the knife to remove his and Jack's leg irons, and they manage to tunnel out of their cell and up into the prison's bell tower. Using a length of rope from the bell, they painstakingly lower themselves down the outside of the fortress and escape. Simon is waiting for them at the tavern, and takes them to his quarters, where Michael is happily reunited with Mary. Brampton's aide, Capt. Herrick, who was taken prisoner during Mary's escape, reveals everything about the duke's scheme, which is due to culminate in the overthrow of the king. Herrick says he thought of warning the king, but realized that an audience with Charles can only be arranged through Brampton. Michael then hatches a plan to steal the Crown jewels in order to gain access to the king. Posing as Brampton's cousin and his wife, Michael and Mary go to the Tower of London and are given a private tour of the jewels. While Mary has the caretaker, Sir Gilbert Talbot, show her the observatory, Michael smashes the glass case and steals the jewels, then battles with the enormous guard, Jacob Hall. Michael and Mary's escape is interrupted, however, by the arrival of Charles and the duke. Kneeling before the king, Michael and Mary reveal Brampton's plot, and Michael and the duke engage in a fierce sword fight. After defeating the duke, Michael demands the book and gives it to the king. Later, after the duke has been hanged, Charles summons Michael, and each of his men receives a generous annual income to work in his service. As the king fondly looks on, Michael and Mary kiss.