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 »

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.9/10 X  

Fu Manchu's 168th birthday celebration is dampened when a hapless flunky spills Fu's age-regressing elixir vitae. Fu sends his lackeys to round up ingredients for a new batch of elixir, ... See full summary »

Directors: Piers Haggard, Richard Quine, and 1 more credit »
Stars: Peter Sellers, Helen Mirren, David Tomlinson
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

In this comedy, set during the Nazi occupation of France, Peter Sellers plays most major male parts, so he stars in nearly every scene, always bumbling in inspector Clouseau-style. As ... See full summary »

Director: Roy Boulting
Stars: Peter Sellers, Lila Kedrova, Curd Jürgens
Animation | Adventure | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.8/10 X  

The King of Ruritania is kidnapped by his scheming brother: can his British double save him?

Stars: Christine Amor, Robert Coleby, Clair Crowther
Biography | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

William Topaz McGonagall, the world's greateset poet. Unfortunately the whole of the rest of the world disagreed. His talent made him a sort of Victorian Chris Evans but without the cash.

Director: Joseph McGrath
Stars: Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Julia Foster
Comedy | Crime | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

To prove that he still is strong and powerful, Philippe Douvier decides to kill Clouseau. Once news of his "death" has been announced, Clouseau tries to take advantage of it and goes undercover with Cato to find out who tried to kill him.

Director: Blake Edwards
Stars: Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk
Adventure
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

An Englishman vacationing in a Ruritarian kingdom is recruited to impersonate his cousin, the soon-to-be-crowned king when the monarch is drugged and kidnapped.

Director: Richard Thorpe
Stars: Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr, Louis Calhern
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

An Englishman on a Ruritarian holiday must impersonate the king when the rightful monarch, a distant cousin, is drugged and kidnapped.

Directors: John Cromwell, W.S. Van Dyke
Stars: Ronald Colman, Madeleine Carroll, C. Aubrey Smith
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Charles Dreyfus threatens to destroy the world with a doomsday device if Inspector Clouseau is not killed. Naturally, this is far harder than it sounds.

Director: Blake Edwards
Stars: Peter Sellers, Herbert Lom, Lesley-Anne Down
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

An incompetent barrister is assigned to defend a wife murderer.

Director: James Hill
Stars: Peter Sellers, Richard Attenborough, Beryl Reid
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.3/10 X  

A pirate crewman kills his captain after learning where he has hidden his buried treasure. However, as he begins to lose his memory, he relies more and more on the ghost of the man he just ... See full summary »

Directors: Peter Medak, Spike Milligan
Stars: Peter Sellers, Anthony Franciosa, Spike Milligan
After the Fox (1966)
Comedy | Crime
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Peter Sellers plays Aldo Vanucci (aka the Fox), one of the greatest criminals of the world, and master of disguise. After Aldo escapes from the Italian prison he was held in, he meets again... See full summary »

Director: Vittorio De Sica
Stars: Peter Sellers, Victor Mature, Britt Ekland
Animation
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  
Director: Ted Kneeland
Stars: Gemma Craven, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Peter Sellers
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
General Sapt
...
The Countess
...
The Count
...
...
Antoinette
...
Fritz
...
...
Bruno
...
Archbishop
Graham Stark ...
Erik
Michael Balfour ...
Luger
Arthur Howard ...
Deacon
...
Johann
Edit

Storyline

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

Genres:

Adventure | Comedy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 August 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Prisioneiro de Zenda  »

Box Office

Budget:

$12,500,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Final credited film as a director for Richard Quine. Quine did direct (uncredited) part of Seller's final film The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980). See more »

Quotes

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 »

Connections

Referenced in The 52nd Annual Academy Awards (1980) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Appealing Farce Needs More Laughs
21 March 2015 | by (Greenwich, CT United States) – See all my reviews

Peter Sellers made a career mining humor and whimsy from weakish scripts; problem is you have to look hard to find those lesser-if-worthy vehicles where his performances make a major difference, and when you do, you may feel disappointed anyway. But give something like "The Prisoner Of Zenda" a chance, and you may be entertained, albeit fitfully.

With the sudden death of Ruritania's ruler Rudolf IV, the crown falls to his clueless, lascivious twit of a son. Already being hunted by a cuckolded count (Gregory Sierra), Rudy (Sellers) now must also escape the murderous attentions of his half-brother Michael (Jeremy Kemp) and his confederates. But help arrives from an unlikely place, a hansom cab driver named Sidney (also Sellers) who is the spitting image of Rudy. Sidney goes along for the sake of a comfortable sinecure for his aging horse, but soon wonders if "this king game" is worth the risk.

The clock was running out on poor Sellers, and you can see it. The old manic energy that once drove him visibly flickers as you watch him here. Making his life's dream "Being There" was just around the corner, but being Sellers, he couldn't resist another trip to the light- comedy well first for some quick cash.

"You might have noticed the king has trouble with his R's," Sidney is told, referencing the speech impediment which Sellers employs when playing "Wudy."

"Yeah, I had that once," Sidney replies. "You get it from sitting on damp grass."

That's about the apogee for the one-liners offered in "Zenda," which coasts along more on ambiance, colorful supporting characters, a glittery Henry Mancini score, and Sellers impressing by working the corners effectively in his two starring roles. He plays Sidney especially with the same lighter touch he would employ more effectively as Chance the Gardener in "Being There," this time channeling Michael Caine rather than Stan Laurel.

I like this film, sometimes a lot, but it's not an easy one to defend. It starts out painfully slow, opening on the soon-to-be-departed Rudolf IV (Sellers again, in what amounts to a cameo in his own movie) taking a balloon ride to celebrate his 80th birthday, a sequence that involves him cackling a lot and playing with a telescope and a champagne bottle before literally ending with a wet splat when the doddering monarch does a full header into a well.

Scriptwriters Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais don't offer much in the way of comic setpieces; for the most part they are content simply replaying the familiar "Zenda" storyline and sneaking in light humor where they can. After a while, a long while, it sort of works, as when Sidney finds himself caught in bed with Rudy's mistress and her very angry husband.

Sierra is very much over-the-top, but solidly so, as the avenging count, setting up various silly traps that end up hurting only him. Meanwhile, Lionel Jeffries and Simon Williams as a pair of Rudy's loyal aides enjoyably try to keep a reluctant Sidney working for them. Stuart Wilson makes a strong impression as the wicked but sporting Rupert, working against Rudy but playing his own side. His maniacal laugh is one of the movie's more amusing recurring bits.

Director Richard Quine supplies his twin Peters with the affectionate attentions of three leading ladies. Elke Sommer and Catherine Schell starred with Sellers in other films, while the third, Lynne Frederick, was at the time Sellers fourth wife, and would become his widow the following year. All add to the general merriment without standing out too much; Schell does so the most when she leads Sidney in an exchange of chicken imitations.

By this time, the movie finally kicks in as something worthwhile, but it may be too late for all but Sellers' faithful fans. As I count "The Pink Panther Strikes Again" as my all-time favorite film, I enjoyed the way "Zenda" works in the same spirit, Mancini music and pratfalls involving Sellers doubles abounding. There's even a scene between Sidney and regular Sellers cohort Graham Stark involving a growling dog that brings to mind one of "Strikes Again's" most remembered scenes, even getting its own agreeable payoff.

But if you aren't a Sellers fan going in, "Zenda" may not only fail to pull you in but leave you wondering what the fuss with him was all about. It's the subtle stuff that clicks for me, the little moments of grace and dignity from Sidney, and Rudy making randy with Sommer's stately torso ("We have mowtains to cwimb!") The real problem with "Zenda" is not its own fault, but the fact it was about all Sellers would have left to give in the way of silly comedy. I liked what I got, but wished it had been more.


0 of 0 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Discuss The Prisoner of Zenda (1979) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?