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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 »

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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The King of Ruritania is kidnapped by his scheming brother: can his British double save him?

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

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Stars: Ronald Colman, Madeleine Carroll, C. Aubrey Smith
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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...
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General Sapt
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The Countess
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The Count
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Antoinette
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Fritz
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Rupert of Hentzau
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Bruno
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Archbishop
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Erik
Michael Balfour ...
Luger
Arthur Howard ...
Deacon
...
Johann
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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 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

17 August 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Zenda  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,425,315, 28 May 1979, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$2,425,315, 28 May 1979
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie's horse mounted fight sequences utilized riders and horses especially imported from Spain as those of Andalusian heritage were of the finest thoroughbred. 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 »

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User Reviews

Doesn't work
5 October 2009 | by See all my reviews

I should probably begin this review by mentioning my familiarity of the source material - or rather, the lack of it. I have never read the novel, nor have I seen any of the previous film versions. Pretty much all I knew about "Zenda" before watching this movie was the basic premise. I also knew the story was originally serious in tone. But I was open to it being done in a comic fashion, because with stuff like mistaken identity, the premise did indeed have comic possibilities.

Sadly, everyone involved with this movie drops the ball. I'll start with Sellers. I have found him funny in other movies, but he simply isn't funny here. His performance here simply lacks energy and seems sluggish. I do know he was having health problems at this point in his life, and this may explain his lack of enthusiasm.

But even if Sellers was in top form here, it's unlikely he could have saved the movie. The movie is terribly directed - the slow-moving story feels as sluggish as Sellers. And when it comes to delivering the (very sporadic) comedy, there is a curious feel to it. The comedy feels like it's being directed by someone intentionally trying to make it as serious as possible. Though many of the gags would still be dead on arrival even with a top comedy director, since they are predictable and very familiar.

Judging by the ragged look of the old print Universal is currently using for the movie's television appearances, they are in no hurry to restore this movie. No wonder.


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