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The Son of Monte Cristo

The Son of Monte Cristo
File:The Son of Monte Cristo.jpg
Directed by Rowland V. Lee
Produced by Edward Small
Written by George Bruce
Starring Louis Hayward
Joan Bennett
George Sanders
Music by Edward Ward
Cinematography George Robinson
Edited by Arthur Roberts
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • January 10, 1940 (1940-01-10)
Running time
102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office 2,213,068 admissions (France, 1946)[1]

The Son of Monte Cristo is a 1940 American black-and-white film produced by Edward Small, directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Louis Hayward, Joan Bennett, and George Sanders. The Small production uses the same sets, and many of the same cast and production crew as his previous year's production of The Man in the Iron Mask.[2]

The film takes the same name as the unofficial sequel to The Count of Monte Cristo, namely The Son of Monte Cristo, written by Jules Lermina in 1881. Using elements from several romantic swashbuckler's of the time such as The Prisoner of Zenda and The Mark of Zorro the production also mirrors the situation of Continental Europe in 1939-1940.


In 1865, the proletarian General Gurko Lanen becomes the behind the scenes dictator of the Grand Duchy of Lichtenburg located in the Balkans. Gurko suppresses the clergy and the free press and imprisons the Prime Minister Baron Von Neuhoff. The rightful ruler of the Grand Duchy the Grand Duchess Zona, hopes to get aid from Napoleon III of France and makes her escape pursued by a troop of Hussars loyal to Gurko. She is rescued by the visiting Count of Monte Cristo in the area on a hunting trip. The Count escorts her to a neutral country, but Gurko's Hussars violate international neutrality to return the Grand Duchess and her lady-in-waiting back to Lichtenburg.

The count has become romantically enamoured of Zona and undertakes to help her, visiting the Grand Duchy where he falls in with the underground resistance movement of Lichtenburg. He befriends the loyal Lt. Dorner of the palace guard who knows a variety of secret passages leading from the Grand Ducal Palace to the literal underground catacombs of the Grand Duchy. Discovering that Baron Von Neuhoff is to be executed, the Count gains entry to the palace through his previously being asked for a large loan of French Francs by Gurko and plays the role of a cowardly fop international banker. There he overhears Gurko meeting with the French Ambassador who raises the issue of human rights in the Grand Duchy. Gurko counters him by saying he is signing a non aggression pact with Russia protecting Lichtenburg from any French threats. Gurko schemes to gain the nation's loyalty by marrying the Grand Duchess and keeping the Russian pact a secret.

The count becomes a masked freedom fighter named "The Torch" after the underground newspaper in order to save the Grand Duchy. The rest is rapid-fire intrigue and derring-do.


File:Coat of arms of the Count of Monte Cristo.png
The coat of arms of the count are described in the original novel as "une montagne d’or, posant sur une mer d’azur, avec une croix de gueules au chef".


A sequel to Count of Monte Cristo was announced almost immediately after the first film's success.[3] At one stage Robert Donat and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. were named as stars.[4]


The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction by John DuCasse Schulze and Edward G. Boyle.[5]


When the spirit of justice is crushed in one country, men will rise to defend it in all countries- Edmond Dantès, Jr., the Counte of Monte Cristo


  1. ^ French box office for 1946 at Box Office Story
  2. ^ p.64 Richards, Jeffrey Swordsmen of the Screen: From Douglas Fairbanks to Michael York Routledge, 1977
  3. ^ Robert Donat, Jack Oakie and Other Stars to Glisten on R.-K.-O. Program: Small Closes Deal for Reliance Films Kiepura's Next European Feature in Charge of "Casta Diva" Director; Jean Arthur and Melvyn Douglas to Join Talents Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 27 Jan 1936: A15.
  4. ^ News of Hollywood By DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL Special to THE NEW YORK TIMES.. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 01 Dec 1939: 27.
  5. ^ "NY Times: The Son of Monte Cristo". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-14. 

External links

File:Joan Bennett in The Son of Monte Cristo.jpg
Joan Bennett as Grand Duchess Zona