The Son of Monte Cristo (1940)

      On January 10, 1940, Rowland V. Lee released his low-budget feature film The Son of Monte Cristo (1940) through United Artists.  Rowland V. Lee started directing films in 1920 and would make 59 films before retiring in 1945.  In this film, Louis Hayward plays The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmund Dantes, Jr.  The Count inherits his father’s money and the same sense of adventure.

     While on a hunt, Dantes runs across Grand Duchess Zona of Lichtenberg, who is fleeing her realm.  General Gurko Lanan, played by George Sanders, is attempting to install himself as king.  Lanan needs to marry Zona, played by Joan Bennett, to accomplish his goal but she is quite unwilling to go along with the plan.


Still from The Son of Monte Cristo (1940) with Joan Bennett and Louis Hayward

     Lanan applied for a 25 million franc loan with the Count of Monte Cristo, so Dantes has a reason to be at the Lichtenberg court.  To keep Lanan from discovering his true purpose, Dantes plays a cowardly fop, which confuses Zona.  She cannot understand the change in Dantes.

     The movie runs 1 hour, 41 minutes but with plenty of action and snappy dialogue.  Lee not only directed this film but other low-budget feature films like The Son of Frankenstein (1939) and Captain Kidd (1945).  Lee’s films were noted for above average acting.

     Lee came from a stage family.  In 1920, Lee began directing films.  In 1935, he purchased a ranch, where he filmed many movies.  Lee also allowed other film companies to rent the ranch for their own films.

     Born in Findlay, Ohio on September 6, 1891, Lee lived to see his 84th Birthday.  On December 21, 1975, four days before Christmas, Rowland V. Lee succumbed to a heart attack.  He left a rich body of work, which outlived his natural life.

     The Son of Monte Cristo is now in the Public Domain.  You can view it on YouTube for free.

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