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The Prisoner of Zenda (1922)

Not Rated | | Adventure, Romance | 11 September 1922 (USA)
When the king is drugged and abducted by his ambitious brother, a lookalike relative must take his place to keep the evil sibling off the throne.



(novel), (scenario)

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Complete credited cast:
Rupert of Hentzau (as Ramon Samaniegos)
Marshal von Strakencz
Countess Helga
Snitz Edwards ...
Fairfax Burger ...
Bersonin (as Fairfax Burgher)
S.E. Jennings ...
De Gautet (as Al Jennings)


When the king is drugged and abducted by his ambitious brother, a lookalike relative must take his place to keep the evil sibling off the throne.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Adventure | Romance


Not Rated | See all certifications »



Release Date:

11 September 1922 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A zendai fogoly  »

Box Office


$323,062 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print) |

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


Version of The Prisoner of Zenda (1952) See more »


Music and Lyrics by Louis Breau and Ernst Luz
See more »

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User Reviews

"While you're unhung, Rentzau, hell lacks its master"
10 July 2006 | by (Copenhagen, Denmark) – See all my reviews

A retiring English country gentleman, Rassendyll, is mistaken for his distant cousin, King Rudolph of Ruritania. When the king is taken hostage by his jealous brother, Black Michael, Rassendyll agrees to act as the king in the coronation ceremony.

It takes a long time for this version of 'The Prisoner of Zenda' to get moving. The first hour or so is stodgy and less than riveting film-making, and then it gradually picks up momentum, and the last half hour packs a decent punch, especially action-wise. But all in all, a rather more lackluster, even crude entertainment than I had expected after the exhilarating 'Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse', also by Rex Ingram.

The script is largely at fault, with the scenes so disjointedly put together that it does not in long stretches make a lot of sense. It has the makings of some interesting psychological insights, but does not explore them. I would have made more - MUCH more - out of the fact that for a long while Black Michael seems a pretty decent fellow, genuinely in love with Antoinette and understandably preoccupied about leaving the fate of his country to his feeble-minded brother. But Ingram makes nothing of it and seems curiously uninspired.

The youngish Lewis Stone is an earnest Rassendyll/Rudolph, and sort of holds his own in the climactic sword-fight with, among others, Ramon Novarro. And now we are getting somewhere. This is Novarro's film. He was hardly a star when it was made, and his role does not take up a lot of screen time, but Novarro eats up the scenery with his monocled, slick diabolism. "While you're unhung, Rentzau, hell lacks its master!", Stone says, and right he is. Novarro is pure evil, and a delight to watch.

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