The Count of Monte Cristo (1934 film)

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The Count of Monte Cristo
1934 Count of Monte Cristo.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Rowland V. Lee
Screenplay by
Based on The Count of Monte Cristo
by Alexandre Dumas
Produced by Edward Small
CinematographyJ. Peverell Marley
Edited byGrant Whytock
Music by Alfred Newman
Reliance Pictures
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • August 29, 1934 (1934-08-29)(USA)
Running time
113 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.5 million [1]

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 1934 American adventure film directed by Rowland V. Lee and starring Robert Donat and Elissa Landi. Based on the 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, the story concerns a man who is unjustly imprisoned for 20 years for innocently delivering a letter entrusted to him. When he finally escapes, he seeks revenge against the greedy men who conspired to put him in prison. [2] [3]


This is the first sound film adaptation of Dumas' novel—five silent films preceded it.


Robert Donat and Elissa Landi in The Count of Monte Cristo The-Count-of-Monte-Cristo-Donat-Landi.jpg
Robert Donat and Elissa Landi in The Count of Monte Cristo

In 1815, a French merchant ship stops at the island of Elba. A letter from the exiled Napoleon is given to the ship's captain to deliver to a man in Marseille. Before he dies of a sickness, the captain entrusts the task to his first officer, Edmond Dantès (Donat). However, the city magistrate, Raymond de Villefort, Jr. (Calhern), is tipped off by an informer, the second officer, Danglars (Raymond Walburn), and has both men arrested after the exchange.

Dantès' friend Fernand Mondego (Sidney Blackmer) accompanies him to the jail. However, he, Danglars, and de Villefort all stand to gain from keeping Dantès imprisoned: Mondego is in love with Dantès' fiancée, Mercedes (Landi); Danglars wants to be promoted captain in Dantès' place; and the man who accepted the letter turns out to be de Villefort's father (Lawrence Grant). De Villefort consigns Dantès without trial to a notorious prison, the Château d'If, on the false testimony of Danglars.

When Napoleon returns to France, giving Dantès' friends hope for his release, de Villefort signs a false statement that he was killed trying to escape, which Mondego shows to Mercedes. Deceived, she gives in to her mother's deathbed wish and marries Mondego.

Eight years of solitary confinement follow for Dantès. Then one day, the aged Abbé Faria (O. P. Heggie), a fellow prisoner, breaks into his cell through a tunnel he has been digging. The two join forces; Faria calculates it will take five more years to finish. In the meantime, he starts educating Dantès.

However, as they near their goal, a cave-in fatally injures the old man. Before he dies, he bequeaths a vast hidden treasure to his protégé (Faria's enemies had tortured and imprisoned him in an unsuccessful attempt to extract its location). The body is sewn into a shroud, but while the undertaker is away, Dantès substitutes himself for the corpse undetected. He is cast into the sea. He frees himself and is picked up by a smuggling ship.

Dantès later follows Faria's directions and finds the treasure on the uninhabited island of Monte Cristo. With a fortune at his command, he sets in motion his plans for revenge. To begin, he arranges to have Albert (Mercedes and Mondego's son) kidnapped and held for ransom. Dantès "rescues" the younger man in order to gain entry into Paris society, using his purchased title of Count of Monte Cristo.

First to be brought to justice is Mondego. While the French ambassador to Albania, Mondego gained renown for his bravery in an unsuccessful defence of Ali Pasha. Dantès arranges a ball to "honour" his enemy, then arranges to have him exposed publicly as the one who betrayed Ali Pasha to his death at the hands of the Turks. Unaware of the count's role in his disgrace, Mondego goes to him for advice. Dantès reveals his identity and they engage in a duel; Dantès wins, but spares Mondego, who returns home and commits suicide.

Next is Danglars, now the most influential banker in Paris. Dantès uses his services to buy and sell shares, sharing tips he receives from his informants. When these turn out to be infallibly profitable, Danglars bribes a man to send him copies of messages to Dantès. Greed leads him to invest all of his money on the next report, just as Dantès had planned. When the tip proves to be false, Danglars is bankrupted. Dantès reveals his true identity to Danglars, who is left penniless and insane.

However, there are unexpected complications that threaten Dantès' carefully conceived plans. Albert Mondego learns of his involvement in his father's downfall and challenges him to a duel. Mercedes, who had recognized her former lover upon their first meeting, begs him not to kill her son. He agrees. Albert deliberately changes his aim because his mother has told him who Monte Cristo really is, and the duel ends without injury.

De Villefort has risen to the high office of State Attorney. Dantès sends him information about his true identity and activities, which leads to his arrest and trial. At first, Dantès refuses to testify, in order to shield de Villefort's daughter Valentine (Irene Hervey), who is in love with Albert. However, when she learns of it, she urges him to defend himself. Dantès does so, providing evidence of de Villefort's longstanding corruption.

At last, with all of his enemies destroyed, Dantès is reunited with Mercedes.



This was the third film producer Edward Small made for United Artists. Fredric March was the original choice for the title role. [4] Eventually Robert Donat was cast under an international star loan agreement negotiated by Joseph Schenck of United Artists. [5]

Director Rowland V. Lee and playwright Dan Totheroh had written a treatment based on the novel. Totheroh had to go to New York so Edward Small hired Philip Dunne, then an emerging screenwriter, to compose the dialogue. According to Dunne there were only seven words of Dumas in the final dialogue: "the world is mine!" spoken by Edmund Dantes when he gets his treasure, and "one, two, three" when he disposes of his enemies. [6]

Dunne added, "I told the director, Rowland Lee, I'd never read the novel. He said he'd act it out for me and he did such a good job I've never read it. In fact, I used all his dialogue, I just wrote it down.... But I got my first credit." [7]

Filming started in May 1934. [5]

Differences from the novel

The film changes some major details of the story. Prominent characters from the novel such as Bertuccio, Caderousse, Franz D'Épinay, Andrea Cavalcanti, Louise d'Armilly, Eugénie Danglars, Maximilian Morrel, Edouard de Villefort and Heloise de Villefort are all omitted. Haydee's role is reduced to two brief appearances, and her romantic involvement with Monte Cristo is not referred to.

In the novel, Dantes and Mercedes did not rekindle their relationship. Danglars and Fernand betrayed Dantes anonymously via a letter rather than in person, and Dantes only discovered their betrayal once in prison. Mercedes was the daughter of a fisherman, not from a wealthy family as suggested in the film, and there was no indication that her mother was opposed to the Dantes marriage. Monte Cristo and Fernand did not engage in a sword fight. Monte Cristo was not put on trial, as he is in the movie's finale. It was Villefort rather than Danglars who went insane.

Reception, sequels and remakes

The film was very popular — Philip Dunne said it "provided Eddie Small with a fortune almost as great as the Treasure of Spada". [6] A sequel, The Son of Monte Cristo , was announced almost immediately, but took several years to be made. [8]

The Count of Monte Cristo was voted one of the ten best pictures of 1934 by Film Daily's annual poll of critics. [9]

The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:

The film had two sequels, The Son of Monte Cristo (1940) and The Return of Monte Cristo (1946). The Count of Monte Cristo was named one of the top ten films of 1934 by the National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. [12] Subsequent adaptations of the novel were made in 1943, 1954, 1961, 1975, and 2002.

In the 2006 political thriller film V for Vendetta , an adaptation of the graphic novel of the same name, the titular anarchist refers to The Count of Monte Cristo as his favourite film. [13] Snippets of the film's first duel scene appear in V for Vendetta. [14]

Related Research Articles

<i>The Count of Monte Cristo</i> Novel by Alexandre Dumas

The Count of Monte Cristo is an adventure novel written by French author Alexandre Dumas (père) completed in 1844. It is one of the author's more popular works, along with The Three Musketeers. Like many of his novels, it was expanded from plot outlines suggested by his collaborating ghostwriter Auguste Maquet.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edmond Dantès</span> Protagonist of Alexandre Dumass 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo

Edmond Dantès is a title character and the protagonist of Alexandre Dumas's 1844 adventure novel The Count of Monte Cristo. Within the story's narrative, Dantès is an intelligent, honest and loving man who turns bitter and vengeful after he is framed for a crime he did not commit. When Dantès finds himself free and enormously wealthy, he takes it upon himself to reward those who have helped him in his plight and punish those responsible for his years of suffering. He is known by the aliases The Count of Monte Cristo, Sinbad the Sailor, Abbé Busoni and Lord Wilmore.

<i>The Count of Monte Cristo</i> (2002 film) 2002 film

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 2002 American historical adventure film, which is an adaptation of the 1844 novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas, produced by Roger Birnbaum, Gary Barber, and Jonathan Glickman, and directed by Kevin Reynolds. The film stars Jim Caviezel, Guy Pearce, Richard Harris, James Frain, Dagmara Dominczyk, and Luis Guzmán. It follows the general plot of the novel, with the main storyline of imprisonment and revenge preserved, but many elements, including the relationships between major characters and the ending, were modified, simplified, added, or removed.

<i>Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo</i> Japanese science fiction anime by Gonzo

Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo is a Japanese science fiction anime television series produced by Gonzo. An adaptation of the 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, the 24-episode series aired on Japanese television between October 2004 and March 2005; it was licensed for a Western release first by Geneon Entertainment and later by Funimation. The series was adapted into a CD drama, a trilogy of novels by screenwriter Shuichi Kouyama, and a manga written and drawn by series creator Mahiro Maeda which ran from 2005 to 2008.

<i>The Count of Monte Cristo</i> (1975 film)

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 1975 television film produced by ITC Entertainment and based upon the 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, père. It was directed by David Greene and starred Richard Chamberlain as Edmond Dantès, Kate Nelligan as Mercedes, Tony Curtis as Fernand Mondego, Louis Jourdan as De Villefort, Donald Pleasence as Danglars, Trevor Howard as Abbé Faria, and Isabelle de Valvert as Haydee. ITC had previously produced a 39-part TV series based on the same source material, in 1956.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 1953 Argentine-Mexican historical adventure film directed by León Klimovsky and starring Jorge Mistral, Elina Colomer and Santiago Gómez Cou. It is an adaptation of Alexandre Dumas's 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo.

<i>The Count of Monte Cristo</i> (1998 miniseries)

The Count of Monte Cristo is a French-Italian four-part miniseries based on the 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père.

<i>The Count of Monte Cristo</i> (musical) Musical

The Count of Monte Cristo is a musical based on the famed 1844 novel of the same name by Alexandre Dumas, with influences from the 2002 film adaptation of the book. The music is written by Frank Wildhorn and the lyrics and book are by Jack Murphy.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 1943 French-Italian film directed by Robert Vernay with Ferruccio Cerio as the supervising director. Based on the classic 1844 novel Le Comte de Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas père, this two-part film stars Pierre Richard-Willm in the title role.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 1942 Mexican historical adventure film directed by Roberto Gavaldón and Chano Urueta and starring Arturo de Córdova, Mapy Cortés, Rafael Baledón, y Esperanza Baur. It is based on Alexandre Dumas's 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo. a story which has been adapted for film many times.

<i>The Count of Monte Cristo</i> (1954 film) 1954 French film

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 1954 French-Italian historical drama film directed by Robert Vernay and starring Jean Marais, Lia Amanda and Roger Pigaut. It is based on the 1844 novel of the same title by Alexandre Dumas.

<i>Monte Cristo</i> (1922 film) 1922 film by Emmett J. Flynn

Monte Cristo is a 1922 American silent drama film produced and distributed by Fox Film Corporation and directed by Emmett J. Flynn. It is based on the 1844 novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, which was adapted by 19th century thespian Charles Fechter and written for this screen version by Bernard McConville. John Gilbert plays the hero with Estelle Taylor as the leading lady. This film was long thought lost until a print surfaced in the Czech Republic. The film has been released on DVD, packaged with Gilbert's 1926 MGM film Bardelys the Magnificent.

<i>The Count of Monte Cristo</i> (1961 film) 1961 French film

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 1961 French-Italian film version of Alexandre Dumas' 1844 novel directed by Claude Autant-Lara.

<i>Sword of Venus</i> 1953 film

Sword of Venus is a 1953 American adventure film directed by Harold Daniels, written by Jack Pollexfen and Aubrey Wisberg, and starring Robert Clarke, Catherine McLeod, Dan O'Herlihy, William Schallert and Marjorie Stapp. It was released on February 20, 1953, by RKO Pictures. It was also released in the U.K. as The Island of Monte Cristo.

<i>The Wife of Monte Cristo</i> 1946 film by Edgar George Ulmer

The Wife of Monte Cristo is a 1946 American adventure film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer and starring John Loder and Lenore Aubert.

<i>The Count of Monte Cristo</i> (1964 TV series)

The Count of Monte Cristo is a British 12-part dramatization of Alexandre Dumas's 1844 novel of the same name. It was made by the BBC and was screened in the autumn of 1964. The series starred Alan Badel in the title role.

<i>The Count of Monte Cristo</i> (1913 film) 1913 film by Edwin S. Porter and Joseph A. Golden

The Count of Monte Cristo is a 1913 silent film adventure directed by Joseph A. Golden and Edwin S. Porter based on Alexandre Dumas' 1844 novel of the same name. It starred James O'Neill, a stage actor and father of playwright Eugene O'Neill. James O'Neill had been playing Edmond Dantès most of his adult life and was famous in the role. Daniel Frohman and Adolph Zukor produced together. Edwin S. Porter co-directed with Joseph Golden, though this was probably necessary as Porter also served as the film's cinematographer. The film was released on November 1, 1913.

<i>The Prisoner of Château dIf</i> 1988 film

The Prisoner of Château d'If or is a 1988 Soviet drama film directed by Georgi Yungvald-Khilkevich based on the novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

<i>Monte Cristo Jr.</i>

Monte Cristo Jr. was a Victorian burlesque with a libretto written by Richard Henry, a pseudonym for the writers Richard Butler and Henry Chance Newton. The score was composed by Meyer Lutz, Ivan Caryll, Hamilton Clarke, Tito Mattei, G. W. Hunt and Henry J. Leslie. The ballet and incidental dances were arranged by John D'Auban, and the theatre's musical director, Meyer Lutz, conducted. The play's doggerel verse was loosely based on The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a lost 1912 unauthorised silent film short directed by Colin Campbell and starring Hobart Bosworth. The film is a remake of the same story Selig had filmed in 1908. When this film was made Adolph Zukor had secured the rights to the 1844 novel and was about to release his 1913 version with James O'Neill who had made the role famous on stage. Zukor's attorneys ordered this film destroyed and all prints were withdrawn.


  1. DOUGLAS W. CHURCHILL.HOLLYWOOD. (Dec 30, 1934). "THE YEAR IN HOLLYWOOD: 1984 May Be Remembered as the Beginning of the Sweetness-and-Light Era". New York Times. p. X5.
  2. Variety film review; October 2, 1934, p. 37.
  3. Harrison's Reports film review; September 8, 1934, p. 143.
  4. Schallert, Edwin. (Aug 29, 1933). "March Favored as "Count of Monte Cristo;" News and Gossip of Studio and Theater: FILM SCRIPT NOW COMPLETE McLaglen Assigned to Star Role in "Patrol" Mystery Attaches to Plans of Helen Hayes Distant Locales Chosen for Warners' Air Epic". Los Angeles Times. p. A7.
  5. 1 2 Schallert, Edwin. (Apr 13, 1934). "Personal Appearances on Stages of Country Result in Big Profits to Film Notables: POWELL OFFERED $50,000 FOR TEN WEEKS OF WORK Four Films a Year Scheduled for Warner Baxter; Donat to Arrive May 1 for "Monte Cristo"". Los Angeles Times. p. 13.
  6. 1 2 Philip Dunne, Take Two: A Life in Movies and Politics, Limelight, 1992 p 32
  7. "Philip Dunne looks back at movies' golden age: [SA2 Edition]author=Jim Bawden". Toronto Star. Jan 27, 1990. p. G8.
  8. Schallert, Edwin (Jan 27, 1936). "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". Los Angeles Times. p. A15.
  9. Alicoate, Jack (1935). The 1935 Film Daily Year Book of Motion Pictures, 17th Annual Edition. The Film Daily. p. 59. Retrieved 2022-07-23 via
  10. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Thrills Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  11. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 20 August 2016.
  12. "Awards for The Count of Monte Cristo". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 21, 2013.
  13. "The Count of Monte Cristo (1934)". TCM. Retrieved 19 October 2015.
  14. 2005 film V for Vendetta