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By Candlelight

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By Candlelight
U.S. theatrical poster
Directed byJames Whale
Written byRuth Cummings
F. Hugh Herbert
Hans Kraly (adaptation)
Karen DeWolf (additional dialogue)
Based onCandle Light
by Karl Farkas and Siegfried Geyer [de]
Produced byCarl Laemmle, Jr.
StarringElissa Landi
Paul Lukas
Nils Asther
Dorothy Revier
CinematographyJohn J. Mescall
Edited byTed Kent
David Berg (uncredited)
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • December 18, 1933 (1933-12-18) (United States)
Running time
70 min.
CountryUnited States

By Candlelight is a 1933 American pre-Code comedy film directed by James Whale. The film is based on the Austrian play Candle Light by Siegfried Geyer [de] and Karl Farkas. The film stars Elissa Landi, Paul Lukas, Nils Asther, and Dorothy Revier. A musical version adapted by Rowland Leigh, Cole Porter, Robert Katscher [de] and Edwin Gilbert premiered in 1938 under the title You Never Know, but was a critical and box office flop that closed after only 78 performances.


During a European train journey, a nobleman's butler Josef (Paul Lukas) is mistaken for his employer Prince Alfred von Romer (Nils Asther) by a beautiful woman, Marie (Elissa Landi), and he does nothing to disillusion her. In due course, the Prince himself arrives and is mistaken for his servant.


Critical reception

TV Guide noted a "pleasant comedy given a sparkling look by talented, classy director Whale";[1] while Allmovie wrote, "By Candlelight is chock full of delightfully double-entendre pre-Code dialogue and dextrous directorial touches";[2] The Radio Times said "Universal studios' James Whale, the star director of its famous horror cycle, trespasses here on territory more generally associated with Paramount and Ernst Lubitsch. While not quite up to the rival studio's standard of sophisticated romantic comedies peopled by aristocrats, this is a more than respectably assembled film, well directed and well acted, particularly by Lukas";[3] and The New York Times noted "a pleasantly amusing diversion. It is shallow and somewhat obvious in spots, but its little intrigue is set forth with admirable cunning by James Whale and others...The audience yesterday afternoon chuckled with glee when the Prince in brass buttons brought in the champagne, doing the butler's duties in a meticulous fashion."[4]


  1. ^ "By Candlelight". TV Guide.
  2. ^ "By Candlelight (1934) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast - AllMovie". AllMovie.
  3. ^ Robin Karney. "By Candlelight". RadioTimes.
  4. ^ "Movie Review - By Candlelight - Elissa Landi and Paul Lukas in a Light and Amiable Tale of a Butler's Deception". Retrieved July 24, 2015.
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By Candlelight
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