45 user 6 critic

The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 3 September 1937 (USA)
An Englishman on a Ruritarian holiday must impersonate the king when the rightful monarch, a distant cousin, is drugged and kidnapped.


, (uncredited)


(celebrated novel), (screen play) | 3 more credits »

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Philip Sleeman ...
Albert von Lauengram
Eleanor Wesselhoeft ...
Frau Holf - Cook
Florence Roberts ...
Duenna (scenes deleted)
Torben Meyer ...
Max - Butler
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
(scenes deleted)
(scenes deleted)
Margaret Tallichet ...
(scenes deleted)


This is a classic swashbuckler. Rudolph Rassendyll, Rudolf V's identical distant cousin, is asked to risk his life and impersonate the would-be king when his relative is kidnapped before his impending coronation. If Rudolf V isn't present at the ceremony, he will forfeit the crown to his older half-brother. Complications ensue when Princess Flavia, the king's cousin and betrothed, begins to notice a "personality change" in her fiancé. Written by Albert Sanchez Moreno <a.moreno@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Romance and adventure to thrill you! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

3 September 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Zenda  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


On November 2nd, 1937, this film opened the world famous Odeon Cinema, in London's Leicester Square. See more »


Princess Flavia gives Rassendyll a red rose in the garden. As it lies on a book a little while later, it is white. See more »


Rudolph Rassendyll: My work here is done.
See more »


Spoofed in The Prisoner of Swing (1938) See more »


Artist's Life, Op.316
(1867) (uncredited)
Written by Johann Strauss
Played at the ball
Danced to by Ronald Colman and Madeleine Carroll
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Colman & Fairbanks Jr. Shine in Classic Adventure Film
10 April 2000 | by (Forest Ranch, CA) – See all my reviews

Traveling in a Middle European kingdom, an Englishman on a fishing vacation discovers to his astonishment that he is an identical look-alike for the country's king. When the dissipated monarch is unable to attend his own coronation, the Englishman is pressured to impersonate him temporarily. But when he falls in love with the new queen and the real king is kidnapped by an evil half-brother, the Englishman is swept into a world of intrigue & danger he scarcely knew existed. Can he rescue THE PRISONER OF ZENDA without losing his own life?

This is one of the great adventure films of the 1930's. Given lavish treatment by Selznick Studios, it is escapist cinema at its most enjoyable.

Silky-voiced Ronald Colman is perfectly cast as both the Englishman & the King. He was one of those rare, fortunate actors with great screen charisma - his every moment, every word, is interesting to the viewer. He almost meets his match, though, in Douglas Fairbanks Jr., here playing a charming & completely ruthless young villain. Their rapier fight stands out in a decade full of terrific swordplay.

The rest of the cast is equally impressive: lovely Madeleine Carroll, wicked Raymond Massey, frantic Mary Astor, stalwart David Niven and especially wonderful old Sir C. Aubrey Smith, a model of elderly devotion & courage.

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