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The Prisoner of Zenda (1979)

Anthony Hope's classic tale gets a decidedly 'un-classic' treatment at the hands of Peter Sellers. Following the story somewhat, friends of the new King Rudolph of Ruritania fear for his ... See full summary »



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
General Sapt
The Countess
The Count
Michael Balfour ...
Arthur Howard ...


Anthony Hope's classic tale gets a decidedly 'un-classic' treatment at the hands of Peter Sellers. Following the story somewhat, friends of the new King Rudolph of Ruritania fear for his life, and switch him with a look-a-like London cabby. Throw in two(!) lovely blondes, treachery, and a battle for life and honour, and enjoy life at its zaniest. Written by Derek Picken <dpicken@email.msn.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Adventure | Comedy


PG | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 August 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Prisioneiro de Zenda  »

Box Office


$12,500,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


John Cleese signed on after EMI pulled out of Life of Brian (1979) and it looked like the film would be canceled. See more »


Rudolf IV: Michael, why do you hate me so?
Duke Michael: Because you are conceited, arrogant, spineless, selfish, shallow, pity, pompous and pitiful!
Rudolf IV: But apart from that?
See more »


Version of The Prisoner of Zenda, Inc. (1996) See more »

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User Reviews

Not as bad as some people say - but should have been tons better!
8 July 2005 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

This is a very lavish looking, picturesque romp that should have been a sure fire hit. "Porridge" scriptwriters Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais were the men responsible for turning the classic Anthony Hope into a comedy, which shouldn't have been too difficult bearing in mind the ridiculous scenario linked to the main story. However, this scenario is all they went for, and any characterisation or satirical touches are abandoned and a lot of cartoonish setups such as Gregory Sierra's role and also other segments such as the explosive bowls game and the early scene in the restaurant replace any serious comedy. Therefore, in his dwindling health and sorrowful state, Sellers looks a bit out of place amongst the diving into the water routines and the jumping of a tall castle stints. It is very similar to his Fu Manchu experience two years later (when he also played two roles) in that he's still putting the work in but to little effect. The film is a reminder of his earlier years and really backfires as a poor man's Pink Panther. However, he still proves that he can act (which is a lot more than most actors these days) despite the poor material and backed by a host of regular artists such as Catherine Schell, Elke Sommer (both stars of Pink Pantherfs), Graham Stark, John Laurie, Jeremy Kemp (who had starred in Sellers' The Blockhouse in 1972) - it should have been better considering the quality of Sellers' other films at the time, but it does fall very flat.

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