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The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 3 September 1937 (USA)
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 (uncredited)

Writers:

Anthony Hope (celebrated novel), John L. Balderston (screen play) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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 Philip Sleeman ... Albert von Lauengram
Eleanor Wesselhoeft 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)
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Storyline

This is a classic swashbuckler. Rudolph Rassendyll, Rudolf V's identical distant cousin, is asked to risk his life and impersonate the would-be king when his relative is kidnapped before his impending coronation. If Rudolf V isn't present at the ceremony, he will forfeit the crown to his older half-brother. Complications ensue when Princess Flavia, the king's cousin and betrothed, begins to notice a "personality change" in her fiancé. Written by Albert Sanchez Moreno <a.moreno@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The most thrilling swordfight ever filmed... See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 September 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Zenda See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,250,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Antoinette de Mauban leaves the dungeon after caring for the imprisoned king, Rupert bows to her and quotes a poem. It's an abbreviated version from Walter Scott: "O woman! in our hours of ease Uncertain, coy, and hard to please, And variable as the shade By the light quivering aspen made; When pain and anguish wring the brow, A ministering angel thou!" See more »

Goofs

Colman's hairstyle changes during the scene on the terrace with Madeleine Carroll. In the brief dialogue with Aubrey Smith, his hair is longer and swept back. Presumably this part of the scene had to be re-shot a few weeks later. See more »

Quotes

[during his sword fight with Rupert, Rudolph "retreats" towards the drawbridge's controls]
Rupert of Hentzau: You'd be a sensation in a circus. I can't understand it. Where did you learn such roller skating?
Rudolph Rassendyll: Coldstream Guards, my boy. Come on now, when does the fencing lesson begin?
Rupert of Hentzau: Stand still and fight, you coward!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in A Family at War: The Gate of the Year (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

On the Beautiful Blue Danube, Op.314
(1866) (uncredited)
Written by Johann Strauss
Whistled by Wilhelm von Brincken
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Timeless Adventure/Love Story Told in the Grand Tradition
1 February 2007 | by malvernpSee all my reviews

If I were to be left on a deserted island and had but one film to watch while I passed the time of day, "Prisoner of Zenda" would be that movie.

Of course it is not perfect. Some of the dialog and scenes seem dated by today's more cynical standards, and perhaps the characters lack the complexity seen in more contemporary films.

But I know of no other movie that tells its rousing story with such dash and style, while at the same time glorifying nobility of character, loyalty, honor, decency, tradition and self-sacrifice. Altogether, this is the film that shows the Old Hollywood skill of story telling at its very best, and leaves you feeling better for the opportunity to watch the great adventure and romance unfold before your very eyes.

Ronald Colman is virtually unknown today----and his presentation of the gentleman hero is decidedly old fashioned. But you believed in him and the innate integrity he brought to all his characterizations. Madeleine Carroll is a classic blond beauty perfectly cast as the princess destined to marry a king but who gives her heart to his look alike commoner cousin.

The rest of the stellar cast is outstanding. Many have pointed out how Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as Rupert of Hentzau stole the picture as the charming villain, and they may well be right. Too bad that he got so few opportunities to show the full range of his acting ability. This is probably his best role.

Many---perhaps most of the values demonstrated in "Prisoner of Zenda" may appear rather quaint to us today. This is not because they are irrelevant. Our present society has significantly lowered the bar for what constitutes good behavior and more readily accepts and forgives what amounts to bad behavior. So-----be transported in time to a world where chivalry was still in style and honor was a virtue to be cherished. You will not be disappointed!

This is one of the truly great films to come out of the Golden Age of Hollywood.


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