The Guardsman

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The Guardsman is a 1931 film based on the play Testőr by Ferenc Molnár. It stars Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontanne, Roland Young and ZaSu Pitts. It opens with a stage re-enactment of the final scene of Maxwell Anderson's Elizabeth the Queen, with Fontanne as Elizabeth and Lunt as the Earl of Essex, but otherwise has nothing to do with that play.

The movie was adapted by Ernest Vajda (screenplay) and Claudine West (continuity) and was directed by Sidney Franklin.

Lunt and Fontanne were husband and wife and a celebrated stage acting team. This movie was based upon the roles they had played on Broadway in 1924 and it was their only starring film role together. They were nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role and Best Actress in a Leading Role respectively.

The story revolves around a husband-and-wife acting team. Simply because he is insecure, the husband suspects his wife could be capable of infidelity. The husband disguises himself as a guardsman with a thick accent, woos his wife under his false identity, and ends up seducing her. The couple stays together, and at the end there is a strong hint - but we are never quite sure - that the wife knew it was her husband, but played along with the deception.

The film was remade twice:

  • In 1984, a new non-musical version, entitled Lily in Love, starring Christopher Plummer and Maggie Smith, was made, but the play was so altered that the names of the characters were changed and Molnar was not even given screen credit. The film was a total flop.

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