A few days before shooting was to start, director Rex Ingram realized that Metro had forgotten to order costumes for Stone. The desperate director frantically phoned Stone and asked if he still had the costume from the stage version. Luckily the actor had them stored in his attic. See more »
During the climactic fight scene, a stool is kicked over twice. See more »
Rudolf V, the King of Ruritania, has been kidnapped by Black Michael, his evil half-brother, and locked in the dungeon of the fortress of Zenda on the eve of his coronation. By a wild twist of fate, it falls upon a look alike distant cousin, the Englishman Rassendyll, to impersonate the king and effect his rescue before either one or both of them are killed by Black Michael or his henchman, Rupert of Hentzau. With two beautiful women complicating matters, and danger lurking at every turn, how can THE PRISONER OF ZENDA possibly be saved?
It is unfortunate that this fine silent film is completely overshadowed by its 1937 talkie remake starring Ronald Colman. It is also unfair. Silent films & talkies are two different art forms and should not be put into competition against each other. Each art form is perfect in its own way. And so it is with the 1922 PRISONER OF ZENDA. Excitingly produced, with excellent production values & good acting, this movie stands on its own merits and on its own feet.
Those familiar with Lewis Stone only as a fine character actor during his talkie career at MGM may be surprised to see him here as a romantic lead, and in a swashbuckler no less. But he is very good in his dual roles of Rudolf & Rassendyll. Strangely, at times he closely resembles Colman, but this is a coincidence no one could anticipate.
This was also the breakout picture for Ramon Novarro. Born to a large wealthy family in Mexico, he had arrived in California as a 15-year old looking to become a singer. That led him into dancing & finally to acting and the movies. Working incredibly hard for years, and largely supporting his family (driven North by Revolution) he finally caught the eye of director Rex Ingram. In ZENDA, the 22-year old Novarro plays rascally Rupert, who, with his little beard & moustache & face wreathed in constant cigarette smoke, looks quite sardonic. He does very well with the unsympathetic character. Playing a mid-European, Novarro begins a career which would have him acting every sort of ethnic role, from Hebrew, to Polynesian, to Chinese.
The rest of the cast all lend able support: Stuart Holmes as the wicked Black Michael; Alice Terry as the beautiful Princess Flavia; Barbara La Marr as the lovely Antoinette de Mauban, desperately in love with Michael; and Robert Edeson & Malcolm McGregor as two staunchly loyal officers of the king. Little comedian Snitz Edwards has a small role as a funny butler.
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