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Directed by James Whale


The last of the D'Artagnan-Three Musketeers books by Alexandre Dumas, serialized between 1847 and 1850 but set in the late 1600s during the reign of Louis XIV, formed the basis of The Man in the Iron Mask (1939), a much-filmed tale of a despotic king, his wronged identical twin brother, and the four heroes who contrive to rescue the imprisoned twin and place him on the throne. First filmed in Germany in 1923, it got its initial Hollywood treatment in 1929 under the direction of Allan Dwan with Douglas Fairbanks as D'Artagnan. It was adapted to the screen many times after this 1939 version: France in 1962 (with Jean Marais) and Russia in 1993, a TV version directed by Mike Newell with Richard Chamberlain and an all-star British cast in 1977, as The Fifth Musketeer (1979) with another international name cast, and the most recent remake (1998) with Leonardo DiCaprio as king and twin and Gabriel Byrne, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu and Jeremy Irons as D'Artagnan and his three legendary compatriots late in their lives.

This version was directed by James Whale, one of the most distinctively stylish directors of the 1930s, known primarily for his horrors films Frankenstein (1931), The Old Dark House (1932), The Invisible Man (1933), and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), which are among the best of their genre. By the time he made The Man in the Iron Mask, he was nearing the end of his brief career. Sadly, he made only three more pictures after this, the last of which, Hello Out There (1949), was never released. Although not considered one of Whale's best films, The Man in the Iron Mask nevertheless has exciting moments, evocative period detail, and a fine cast (including Joan Bennett, Warren William and Joseph Schildkraut) supporting impressive work by Louis Hayward in the dual roles of Louis XIV and his brother Philippe.

Excerpt from TCM located HERE


Theatrical Release: June 26th, 1939

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DVD Review: Henstooth Video - Region 1 - NTSC

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Distribution Henstooth Video - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:51:36 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 4.88 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s   

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English (Dolby Digital 2.0) 
Subtitles English, None

Release Information:
Studio: Henstooth Video

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• none 

DVD Release Date: February 14th, 2012

Keep Case
Chapters: 11



I *think* there have been some other DVD editions of this title, but I don't own one to compare. From comments I have read from others - I expect that this is the best to-date. There is only one small section with noticeable damage marks (see last capture) and they appear to be frame specific. Other than that this single-layered transfer is acceptable with some grain showing through. It has decent contrast and consistent detail. Along with the unremarkable, but even, audio - it gave me a worthy presentation. 

There are no extras but the region 1, NTSC, DVD has optional subtitles. I fondly recall watching this when I was a boy - and enjoying it and Dumas titles like The Count of Monte Cristo (Robert Donat). For those keen on these vintage renditions - The HensTooth edition supplies a worthwhile viewing, if housed in a bare-bones package. 

Gary W. Tooze


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Distribution Henstooth Video - Region 1 - NTSC

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