Dangerous Exile

Dangerous Exile is a 1957 British historical drama film directed by Brian Desmond Hurst and starring Louis Jourdan, Belinda Lee, Anne Heywood and Richard O'Sullivan. It concerns the fate of Louis XVII, who died in 1795 as a boy, yet was popularly believed to have escaped from his French revolutionary captors.[1]

Dangerous Exile
Directed byBrian Desmond Hurst
Produced byGeorge H. Brown
Earl St. John
Written byRobin Estridge
Based onnovel A King Reluctant by Vaughan Wilkins
StarringLouis Jourdan
Keith Michell
Belinda Lee
Richard O'Sullivan
Music byGeorges Auric
CinematographyGeoffrey Unsworth
Edited byPeter Bezencenet
George H. Brown Productions
Distributed byJ. Arthur Rank
Release date
1957 (UK)
10 October 1958 (US)
Running time
91 minutes


The Duke Philippe de Beauvais smuggles his own son into the prison cell where Louis XVII is kept. Thus Louis XVII can escape unnoticed to England. Unfortunately the aerostat, steered by Duke Philippe de Beauvais, lands accidentally on a remote island. There an American spinster, Virginia Traill, takes care of the strange child. She finds the dauphin profoundly traumatised and not interested in becoming a king. Meanwhile, Louis' uncle in Vienna has declared himself the new French king. In order to safeguard his claim on the throne, he sends assassins who shall murder the dauphin. Being unaware of the exchange, he has Richard de Beauvais killed. But now the dauphin's torturers recognise they have been deceived. Informed by a message of an English spy they send a ship to the island where the real dauphin hides. They attack the house of Virginia Traill and stop at nothing to detect the dauphin's hiding-place.



The film was based on the novel A King Reluctant by Vaughan Wilkins which was published in 1952.[2] The New York Times called it "a rousing, colourful tale and historically convincing."[3]

The film was shot in Pinewood Studios and on location in Cornwall in 1957.[4] Lee was injured when her hair caught fire during a scene.[5]


The Manchester Guardian called the film "monstrous twaddle" with "just one merit - its beautifully colored photography".[6]

The New York Times called it "a beautifully mounted tale" which "rarely comes to life, except in the superb, effectively colored period settings... Under Brian Desmond Hurst's rather unimaginative direction, the action simply lacks sustained suspense, instead of crawling with it... The lavish, meticulous castle interiors, the sweeping, azure-tinted coastal landscapes, and the murkiness of the Paris dungeons — all these have been woven into a striking background tapestry by Jack Maxsted, the art director."[7]


  1. David Sterrit, "Dangerous Exile", Turner Classic Movies accessed 26 January 2014
  2. Recent Novels B W. The Irish Times 13 Dec 1952: 6.
  3. Royal Refugee: A KING RELUCTANT. By Vaughan Wilkins. 315 pp. New York: The Macmillan Company. $3.50. Holden, Raymond. New York Times 22 Mar 1953: BR26. ,
  4. Dangerous Exile at Louisjourdan.net
  5. "Star's Hair Ablaze From Candle". The Canberra Times. 31, (9, 154). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 27 April 1957. p. 3. Retrieved 20 July 2017 via National Library of Australia.CS1 maint: extra punctuation (link)
  6. EALING TEAM NEEDS A REFRESHER Our London Film Critic. The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 14 Dec 1957: 3.
  7. Review of film at The New York Times
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