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The Prisoner of Swing (1938)

Approved | | Short, Adventure, Comedy | 11 June 1938 (USA)

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Musical satire based on Anthony Hope's Ruritanian novel "The Prisoner of Zenda" in which a commoner takes the place of a lookalike king.




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Complete credited cast:
Rudolph, King of Sulvania / Mr. Razzenstill
Al Fields ...
Bruce Evans
Ruth Dryden ...
The Debutantes ...
Palace Singers (as Lester Cole Singers)
Gae Foster Girls ...
Palace Dancers (as The Gae Foster Girls)


Mr. Razzenstill, a saxophonist and dancer who specializes in swing music, comes to the kingdom of Sulvania looking for a job. Unbeknownst to him, he looks exactly like King Rudolph. At a ball to celebrate his upcoming coronation, Rudolph declares that swing music will be outlawed once he is crowned. The king is kidnapped by swing music lovers, and the look-alike takes the king's place. Written by David Glagovsky <dglagovsky@verizon.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis






Release Date:

11 June 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Broadway Brevities (1937-1938 season) #12: The Prisoner of Swing  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Vitaphone production reels B108-B109. See more »


Rudolph, King of Sulvania: Pardon me, my good woman. I'm here for the saxophone season. Can you tell me if there's any swinging going on here?
See more »


Spoofs The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) See more »


The Lady Who Couldn't Be Kissed
Music by Harry Warren
Played when the woman enters after the shave
See more »

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User Reviews

Watchable mainly for glimpse of June Allyson before stardom...
13 February 2008 | by (U.S.A.) – See all my reviews

The most surprising thing about this Vitaphone short from Warner Bros. is that JUNE ALLYSON appears in it in a supporting role as a princess. I'd always assumed she made her debut at MGM in BEST FOOT FORWARD ('43), but instead, this was her seventh appearance on film, mostly in musical shorts for Warner Bros.

Taking its storyline from THE PRISONER OF ZENDA's tale of dual identities in a royal kingdom, this one has HAL LeROY as the commoner who is the lookalike of a king, a saxophonist in a swing band while His Highness is a man allergic to swing. The plot vaguely follows the Zenda business of switching identities, crossing the moat where the prisoner is, and the final duel, all done in painfully obvious fashion with an attempt at humor.

HAL LeROY is fine as long as he's just tap dancing, but his screen charisma is nearly zero and he looks rather uncomfortable throughout. Can't say that I blame him. JUNE ALLYSON is almost unrecognizable in a blonde wig (supposed to look like Madeleine Carroll, I suppose), and gets a brief song duet that is instantly forgettable. No wonder it took her several more years before she had her big break.

Pretty bad with a tinny soundtrack that only makes things worse. As musical shorts go, this is one of the worst.

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