Cardinal Richelieu – Radio Broadcast and Original Lobby Cards

On January 23, 1939, George Arliss stepped before a live audience and a live microphone to broadcast a radio adaptation of his 1935 hit film, CARDINAL RICHELIEU. This prestigious event was one of the highlights of that season’s Lux Radio Theatre, hosted by none other than Cecil B. DeMille. Co-starring with Mr. A were some of the film’s stars including Caesar Romero and Douglas Dumbrille. The ingenue role of Lenore was played by Heather Angel, who replaced Maureen O’Sullivan from the film version. The key role of King Louis XIII was played by Montagu Love who last appeared with Mr. A in the 1931 film, ALEXANDER HAMILTON, where Love played Thomas Jefferson.

Best of all, members of the Arliss stock company were reunited: Ivan Simpson played Richelieu’s confident, Father Joseph (and stepped on some of Mr. A’s lines), Charles Evans played an innkeeper, Doris Lloyd played Queen Anne, wife of Louis, and best of all Florence Arliss played the Queen Mother Marie, who is an adversary of the Cardinal. It is interesting to hear Mr. and Mrs. A exchange harsh words in character rather than the romantic dialogue usually heard in their films. This broadcast was heard coast to coast and by shortwave around the world. As Mr. A says in his curtain speech at the end, a conservatively estimated 30 million people listened in. Today, a show with 5 million viewers is considered one for the record books.

If you weren’t around in 1939, that’s no problem here at the Arliss Archives. Just click (perhaps several times) on the play button below and you will be transported back in time to hear the complete hour-long broadcast:

While you are listening, Mr. A suggested you might want to review the original set of eight lobby cards that were issued in conjunction with the film. The 11×14 inch size of each card is too large for most scanners today so we have done our best to squeeze most of the contents into the image space. This is the first card, known as the title card for obvious reasons:

King Louis (Edward Arnold) and his retinue visit Richelieu where he meets the Cardinal’s ward Lenore (Maureen O’Sullivan) and is smitten by her. The villainous Baradas (Douglass Dumbrille on the right) smugly guesses the King’s plans for poor Lenore:

As Lenore is romanced by Andre dePons (Cesar Romero), the Cardinal realizes a way to thwart the King’s lustful intentions and instructs Father Joseph to bring the couple to the chapel so he can marry them:

The King is furious with Richelieu and Baradas sees his opportunity to dethrone Louis and place his weak brother Gaston as a puppet king. But first Andre must be persuaded to turn against Richelieu and join Baradas:

Andre is initially duped and almost murders the Cardinal but Richelieu has a way of explaining things and Andre reveals Baradas’ plot to overthrow Louis in league with Spain:

Richelieu must overtake Queens Marie and Anne on their way to the Spanish border to deliver the conspirators’ secret treaty. That’s Reginald Sheffield on the right, a member of the Arliss stock company. He would become better known as the father of Johnny Sheffield, who played “Boy” in Johnny Weissmuller’s TARZAN films:

The Cardinal manages to catch up to the Queens (Katherine Alexander and Violet Kemble-Cooper) and tricks them into disclosing the treaty by using a simple ruse – he lies!

Since everyone at court believes Richelieu to be murdered by Andre, the Cardinal causes quite a stir when he shows up with the secret treaty. Baradas and his colleagues are arrested for treason, Richelieu is restored to the King’s favor, and the Cardinal suggests to his Majesty that the best way to celebrate is to give thanks to God:

The End

A nice portrait of Mr. A in the title role, originally in b/w that we transferred into color:

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. You observe in your last book, ‘Worse, any relatives who may be out there have successfully remained obscure, even in this Internet age. (If you’re out there, please contact me!)’
    Well, I make no great claims; but my mother knew GA as uncle Gus. Her maternal grandfather was Gus’s older brother, Charlie Andrews. As a child I stayed at Crossways, St Margaret at Cliffe (the house then belonged to my great uncle George Arliss Andrews). I am lucky to have both copies of GA’s autobiography (as well as your own) one of which (‘GA By Himself’) has the photos signed by himself and on occasion by Florence. So, one of us relatives, at least, is glad to respond to your request. If I can be of any assistance,please do contact me.

  2. Hi I am the Vice chairman of the St Margaret’s History Society. We would love to have any info/memories or photos about Crossways GA’s House. When did George Arliss Andrews leave it? I have a reference to his still being in the village in 1979
    We have a website and facebook page for the archive

    Happy to exchange info
    best wishes
    Christine W

    • Hello Christine,

      Thank you for your inquiry. I am no authority on Crossways Cottage but a couple of years ago I was contacted by an Arliss relative who provided some great info and documents/photos on Crossways. Here is the email I have for him and I hope it still works:

      Perhaps you can help me too. Was there ever any inventory of what was lost when the cottage was destroyed by a German shell in September 1942? I ask because I think it likely that Mr. Arliss kept a diary but research has been fruitless in finding any of the volumes anywhere. Lacking in any facts, I have assumed that Mr. A may have kept them at Crossways perhaps thinking they were safer there during the war than in London. That’s been my working assumption but I have no evidence that the diaries were housed and then destroyed at Crossways. Any help is appreciated! Thank you.

      Best regards,
      Bob Fells

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