IMDb > The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
The Prisoner of Zenda
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The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) More at IMDbPro »


Overview

User Rating:
7.8/10   2,859 votes »
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Down 47% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Anthony Hope (celebrated novel)
John L. Balderston (screen play)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for The Prisoner of Zenda on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
3 September 1937 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
The most thrilling swordfight ever filmed... See more »
Plot:
An Englishman on a Ruritarian holiday must impersonate the king when the rightful monarch, a distant cousin, is drugged and kidnapped. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination See more »
NewsDesk:
(23 articles)
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User Reviews:
A Colman - Selznick triumph See more (41 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Ronald Colman ... Major Rudolf Rassendyll / The Prisoner of Zenda

Madeleine Carroll ... Princess Flavia

C. Aubrey Smith ... Colonel Zapt

Raymond Massey ... Black Michael

Mary Astor ... Antoinette de Mauban

David Niven ... Fritz von Tarlenheim

Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Rupert of Hentzau
Montagu Love ... Detchard
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)
Francis Ford ... (scenes deleted)
Margaret Tallichet ... (scenes deleted)
Wilhelm von Brincken ... Krafstein
Evelyn Beresford ... Lady Topham (uncredited)
Ricardo Lord Cezon ... Little Boy (uncredited)
Spencer Charters ... Railroad Porter (uncredited)
Sally Conlin ... (uncredited)
D'Arcy Corrigan ... Traveler (uncredited)
Bonnie Gaye Cowen ... (uncredited)
Alexander D'Arcy ... De Gautet (uncredited)
Billy Diamond ... (uncredited)
Ralph Faulkner ... Bersonin (uncredited)
Billy Finnegan ... (uncredited)
Byron Foulger ... Johann (uncredited)
Charles K. French ... Bishop (uncredited)
Otto Fries ... Luggage Officer (uncredited)
Lawrence Grant ... Marshal Strakencz (uncredited)
Charles Halton ... Passport Officer (uncredited)
Lillian Harmer ... Traveler (uncredited)

Darryl Hickman ... (uncredited)
Boyd Irwin ... Master of Ceremonies (uncredited)
Emmett King ... Lord High Chamberlain (uncredited)
Howard Lang ... Josef (uncredited)
Ian Maclaren ... Cardinal (uncredited)
Marilyn Marlin ... (uncredited)
Dickie Meyers ... (uncredited)
June Parkes ... (uncredited)
Alexander Pollard ... Court Officer (uncredited)
Russ Powell ... Traveler (uncredited)
Henry Roquemore ... Man with Female Traveler (uncredited)
Al Shean ... Orchestra Leader (uncredited)
Leslie Sketchley ... Guard at Lodge (uncredited)
Pat Somerset ... Guard at Lodge (uncredited)
Ben Webster ... Lord Topham (uncredited)

Directed by
John Cromwell 
W.S. Van Dyke (reshoots) (uncredited)
 
Writing credits
Anthony Hope (celebrated novel)

John L. Balderston (screen play)

Edward E. Rose (dramatization) (as Edward Rose)

Wells Root (adaptation)

Donald Ogden Stewart (additional dialogue)

Ben Hecht  uncredited
Sidney Howard  uncredited

Produced by
David O. Selznick .... producer
 
Original Music by
Alfred Newman 
 
Cinematography by
James Wong Howe (photography)
Bert Glennon (uncredited)
 
Film Editing by
James E. Newcom (film editor)
 
Art Direction by
Lyle R. Wheeler  (as Lyle Wheeler)
 
Costume Design by
Ernest Dryden (costumes) (as Ernst Dryden)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Fred Spencer .... assistant director (as Frederick A. Spencer)
George Cukor .... director: reshoots (uncredited)
W.S. Van Dyke .... director, fencing sequences (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Casey Roberts .... interior decoration
 
Sound Department
Oscar Lagerstrom .... recorder
 
Special Effects by
Jack Cosgrove .... special effects
John M. Nickolaus .... special effects (uncredited)
Harry Redmond Jr. .... special effects (uncredited)
 
Stunts
Fred Cavens .... fencing stunts
Ralph Faulkner .... fencing double (uncredited)
Jean Heremans .... fencing master (uncredited)
Dick Simmons .... stunt double: Ronald Colman (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Hal C. Kern .... supervising film editor
 
Music Department
Hugo Friedhofer .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
Hugo Friedhofer .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Alfred Newman .... musical director (uncredited)
Edward B. Powell .... orchestrator (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Ivar Enhörning .... technical advisor (as Colonel Ivar Enhorning)
Prince Sigvard Bernadotte .... technical advisor
William H. Wright .... assistant to producer
Russell Birdwell .... publicity chief (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
101 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)
Certification:
Argentina:13 | Finland:K-16 | Netherlands:18 (original rating) (1938) | USA:Approved (PCA #3356) | West Germany:12
Filming Locations:

Did You Know?

Trivia:
In 'Salad Days', his first autobiography, 'Douglas Fairbanks Jr' said that when Raymond Massey told Sir C. Aubrey Smith, who played Col. Zapt, that he didn't understand his own part of Black Michael, Smith said 'Ray, in my time I've played every part in Zenda except Princess Flavia, and I've never understood Black Michael either'.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: 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 »
Movie Connections:
Spoofed in The Prisoner of Zenda (1979)See more »
Soundtrack:
On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Op.314See more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
24 out of 26 people found the following review useful.
A Colman - Selznick triumph, 22 April 2005
Author: theowinthrop from United States

Sir Anthony Hope Hawkins was a successful London barrister, who got his measure of permanent fame as the author of several novels. Some were quite popular in their day, like "The Dolly Dialogues" and "The Man In The Car" (which bases it's central figure on Cecil Rhodes). But it is his two "Ruritanian" Romances, "The Prisoner Of Zenda" and "Rupert Of Hentzau" that are the main novels he is recalled for, especially "The Prisoner Of Zenda". Set in a middle European kingdom, it was (for it's day in the last decades of the 19th Century) an updating of the swashbuckling novels of Alexandre Dumas. Dumas had some stories set in "modern Europe" ("The Count Of Monte Cristo" is set in the period of 1815 - 1830, and was written in 1844 - 1845), but most were in earlier periods, such as the 16th, 17th, and 18th Centuries. Hope Hawkins (who wrote under the name Anthony Hope) figured that there was sufficient intrigue and deviltry in modern Europe to transplant the plot style to the 1870s - 1890s.

And there was considerable intrigue, especially in Eastern Europe. In the 1880s Prince Alexander of Battenberg seemed set to become first Prince or King of Bulgaria. He had won admiration in Europe for his stunning victories over the armies of the Kingdom of Serbia in a war of 1885 (the war that was the background to Shaw's ARMS AND THE MAN), and was poised to get his crown, when the Russian Empire balked. They thought Alexander was too pro-German, and too close (due to family relationships) to Great Britain. So Alexander was toppled, and forced to leave Bulgaria under very humiliating circumstances. Eventually Prince Ferdinand of Saxe-Coburg got the Bulgarian throne.

"The Prisoner Of Zenda" is not based on the story of Alexander of Battenberg, but it shows the type of conspiracy atmosphere that pervaded the area. Basically the plot is an old one of substitutions concerning political figures. Dumas had used one in "The Vicomte De Bragalone", a huge multi-volume novel that included "The Man In The Iron Mask". One of the theories about the Iron Mask (the one that Dumas used)was that it was the twin brother of King Louis XIV. In that novel D'Artagnan has to thwart a plot to replace the Sun King with his brother - a plot that almost succeeds. Hope changed this slightly. Here the King is threatened by his ambitious half-brother, and the King's distant twin cousin replaces him to save the throne.

The 1937 film version of the novel is usually considered the best of several (including the 1951 version with Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr, and a comic version with Peter Sellers and Lionel Jeffries in 1978). David Selznick was the producer, this being part of his series of movies-based-on-famous-novels that included "A Tale Of Two Cities" (also with Colman), "David Copperfield" (with W.C.Fields), and finally "Gone With The Wind". His casting was top notch, with Colman supported by Madeleine Carroll, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Raymond Massey, Mary Astor, C. Aubrey Smith, and David Niven. It is an exciting and well made film, and definitely worth watching.

Selznick hoped to do the sequel "Rupert Of Hentzau", but that book is a comparative downer. Several of the main characters from the first novel are killed, and one of them shows a less likable side to his personality than in the first story. He toyed with a total rewrite of the story, to try to make Fairbanks a hero instead of a villain. The project never reached fruition. Probably just as well. It is rare for a successful film production to be replicated in a sequel.

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