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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.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writers:

(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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Cast

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:
Arthur Byron ...
(scenes deleted)
...
(scenes deleted)
Margaret Tallichet ...
(scenes deleted)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Romance and adventure to thrill you! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

3 September 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Zenda  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director John Cromwell was not happy with his cast. In memos to David O. Selznick he said that Fairbanks and Niven were "overindulged and lazy." Colman "never knows his lines. I don't know which one of them annoys me most. Also, both Colman and Carroll insist they have a 'bad side' to be avoided by the camera, but it's the same 'bad side.' Shooting them face-to-face is all but impossible." See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Rudolph Rassendyll: You know, there's another reason I feel so well. Had a remarkable wine for dinner last night. Soothed my nerves - went right off to sleep! Slept like a top! Came from right near your castle, by the way. You must try it in case you're ever troubled about sleeping.
Black Michael: I sleep very well.
Rudolph Rassendyll: Is that so? You must have a clear conscience.
Black Michael: I have, and I've never had a dream that didn't come true... if I waited long enough.
Rudolph Rassendyll: Really? How romantic!
[laughs]
Rudolph Rassendyll: Still, some things come true you never dreamed of!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Petticoat Junction: The Butler Did It (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Hail the Conquering Hero
(uncredited)
By George Frideric Handel
[Played at the "king's" entry into the cathedral]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
A classic with class
21 February 2002 | by (Los Angeles, CA) – See all my reviews

If anyone wants to see an excellent movie made before the banner cinematic year of 1939, this would be a film to watch. It could hardly have gone wrong, with David O. Selznick as producer and John Cromwell as director. And a superlative cast of popular stalwarts, mostly from Hollywood's British colony. Ronald Colman is his usual smooth and accomplished self in a dual role, King Rupert (of some fictitious country) and look-alike Englishman Rudolph Rassendyll, very distant cousins. The scenes in which he faces himself onscreen – called `trick photography' then – are remarkable for the period. Lovely Madeleine Carroll plays a princess, betrothed to the king. Her equal in elegance and beauty wasn't seen on the screen again until Audrey Hepburn and Julie Andrews. Many critics have praised Douglas Fairbanks, jr, as a likeable rogue. He's very good, in an easy role. My applause goes to the two stars. The film is a glamorous combination of romance, spectacle and adventure. Don't even dream of realism; there was too much realism in ordinary life during most of the Thirties. This is a grand escape to a time and place that never were. If I had to pick a favorite scene in the film, it would be the famous entrance of Colman and Carroll into the coronation ball. The shot opens on the couple, walking fast, arm in arm, directly toward us. The camera pulls back and back and BACK until the grand staircase of the palace and the entire ballroom, filled with people, are revealed. Visually and technically, this single fluid shot is a stunning achievement. It shows us the creative work that could be done at the time, by hugely talented artists, long before the advent of zoom lenses and computer graphics. Elegance and class are not hallmarks of most current movies. `The Prisoner of Zenda' (1937) is a stylish and very satisfying example – a symbol, perhaps – of what escapist entertainment can be. And of what it could and should be, now and then, even today.


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