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   3,099 votes »
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Down 82% 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 »
Awards:
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
Rousing fun 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:
Producer David O. Selznick was unsatisfied with the action scenes in the film, particularly the fencing, so he brought in directors W.S. Van Dyke and George Cukor to reshoot them after principal photography was finished.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: The sword fight in the castle of Zenda between Coleman and one of the king's guards appears to be with rapiers, however when the fight is picked up again in the outside room the rapiers have become sabers - necessary in order to cut the rope of the drawbridge.See more »
Quotes:
Rupert of Hentzau:Touché, Rassendyll! I cannot get used to fighting furniture - where did you learn it?
Rudolph Rassendyll:That all goes with the old school tie.
Rupert of Hentzau:Well, then, here's your last fencing lesson. Look out for your head.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Op.314See more »

FAQ

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20 out of 26 people found the following review useful.
Rousing fun, 6 December 2003
Author: Robert J. Maxwell (rmax304823@yahoo.com) from Deming, New Mexico, USA

Mixed identities, castles, swords, fancy uniforms, Ruritanian romance, royal intrigues -- it's all here. What a lot of fun.

I could never really figure out Ronald Coleman's appeal. He's likable enough but from what I gather women used to swoon over him. Is he really handsome? If so, the quality slips past my perceptive apparatus. I do like his voice, though, so theatrically nasal and so hard to take seriously. Raymond Massey is Black Michael, he of the monocle and the perpetual sneer. Mary Astor and Madeleine Carrol are decorative and provide the men with motives. Outstanding, though, is Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., as Rupert of Hentzau. It's often said that a movie is as good as its villain, and that's as true here as in any other film. He laughs, he oozes charm, he beats people over the head with iron pipes, he stabs unarmed noblemen, he seduces women, he drugs kings, seems to enjoy betrayal, smokes too much, lies as easily as the rest of us breathe, and instead of fighting to the end like a man he jumps out a window and runs away, or rather swims away. He quotes poetry: "Oh, woman, in our hour of ease/ uncertain, coy, and hard to please./ When pain and anguish wring the brow/ a ministering angel, thou." David Niven is a lighthearted friend of the hero. C. Aubrey Smith is -- well, C. Aubrey Smith.

Niven hadn't gotten very far in Hollywood until he landed this role, which he was able to do only through the influence of Hollywood's "British colony." He began the shoot by playing the part in the breezy manner we now see on screen. This displeased the director and the producer, who wanted it dramatic, but when they saw how it looked on film they were tickled pink. (Both Niven and Fairbanks were to go on to meritorious service in World War II.)

The movie is so undemanding and so rewarding that it was remade several times, twice as a spoof. The 1950s version with Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr is about as good as this one, only of course splashier.

The climax involves a nicely done fight with sabres between Coleman and Fairbanks. Coleman wasn't a physical actor and Fairbanks not a fencer, so doubles are used extensively, but without doing much damage. And it's curious to note that this was released in the same year as "The Adventures of Robin Hood," and both films use some of the same conventions, fighting with furniture, trading wisecracks during the fight, and the use of shadows swashbuckling away on the castle walls. This despite the fact that different directors were in charge. Hard to tell whether this is an instance of independent invention or some historical adhesion left over from one of Fairbanks' dad's early silents.

And enjoyable tale, not meant to be taken seriously.

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Great film, poor DVD jcorelis
DVD Release--March 6, 2007 dnscal
The Sequel Never Made hondo551
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