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Cardinal Richelieu

Cardinal Richelieu(1935)

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According to information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Theater Arts Library, Maureen O'Sullivan was loaned from M-G-M and Douglass Dumbrille from Columbia. The Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection, also at UCLA, contains an undated document by Zanuck entitled "Cardinal Richelieu Suggestions," written before Maude Howell was brought onto the project, in which he advises that the Bulwer-Lytton play, along with a play by Arthur Goodrich and a book by Gladys Price be used as source material. He notes that if the Goodrich play will not be sold, "we can write our own original based on Bulwar-Lytton [sic] version and the Gladys Price book, carefully avoiding Goodrich version and purchasing Price version for protection." The screen credits list only the Bulwer-Lytton play as the source for the film, and it is not known if material from the other sources were used. Variety noted that "those concerned with the script ... have discarded the stilted form of Lord Lytton and have modernized it without making it colloquial." In his notes, Zanuck mentions that the question of whether or not Richelieu was "really a great Catholic" had not been decided. He noted that "the Church generally speaking is not so much for him as there is no doubt but that many of his deals are questionable." Zanuck wanted "to keep alive ... the controversy. We must, of course, pacify the Church; but, at the same time ... some parts of our picture should be open to criticism from Catholics, etc., but keeping always in mind that we must do nothing to offend the Church." Zanuck also suggested an ending which was not used: a deathbed scene in which Richelieu and the king are reconciled, and then a funeral, supposedly based on fact, in which the important people of the world, including those who hated him, marched behind his casket "realizing that regardless of what he did he lifted France from nothing to a world power."
       This was George Arliss' last film made in Hollywood. According to information in the Produced Scripts Collection, a Technicolor sequence in the interior of the Notre Dame cathedral was planned. No information has been located to determine if this sequence was ever filmed. According to correspondence in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, after the film's opening, the Swedish government objected to the portrayal of their most famous king, Gustavus Adolphus. While they stated that he never was in Paris, they did not object to this historical inaccuracy, but to the picture of the king selling himself and his mercenaries and his statement that he works better when he is drunk. They stated that the king was not a drinking man. Because of the protest, the studio had corrections made in all prints to eliminate the reference of the king selling himself to Richelieu and lines that the king drank or was drunk.
       Other films based on the life of Richelieu include the 1910 Vitagraph film, Richelieu, or the Conspiracy, directed by J. Stuart Blackton and starring Maurice Costello; a 1911 Edison film, entitled The Cardinal's Edict; and two films produced in 1914, Cardinal Richelieu's Ward, made by Thanhouser and starring James Cruze, and Richelieu, made by Universal, directed by Allan Dwan, and starring Murdock MacQuarrie (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20; F1.0608 and F1.3712).