Geoffrey Thorpe, a buccaneer, is hired by Queen Elizabeth I to nag the Spanish Armada. The Armada is waiting for the attack on England and Thorpe surprises them with attacks on their galleons where he shows his skills on the sword.
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 <email@example.com>
Selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in October 1991. See more »
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 »
'The Prisoner of Zenda' is one of the most fondly-remembered films of the '30s, and for good reason. It offers Ronald Colman, one of Hollywood's most beloved British stars, in the dual role of Rudolf, crown prince of a small European kingdom, and Rudolf Rassendyll, his look-alike British cousin, end product of a brief affair of an ancestor (as the Englishman puts it, "Fishing in forbidden waters"); the radiant Madeleine Carroll, best-known as Robert Donat's leading lady in Hitchcock's classic 'The 39 Steps', as the royal betrothed, who falls in love with the pretender; Raymond Massey, Canadian star of H.G. Wells' SF masterpiece, 'Things to Come' (and, 3 years later, the quintessential Abraham Lincoln on stage and in film!), as Black Michael, Rudolf's scheming half-brother; and, best of all, a youthful Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., son of silent Hollywood's greatest swashbuckler (and a pretty fair swashbuckler, himself), as the suavely villainous ally of Michael.
The story is simple, and has been done many times before, but never with such elan; drugged monarch-to-be must be impersonated by look-alike for coronation, lest kingdom fall into hands of evil half-brother. In the hands of this PERFECT cast (with terrific support by C. Aubrey Smith, a young David Niven, and Mary Astor) the tale becomes a stylish tale of love, intrigue, and derring-do. High points include an astonishingly beautiful Royal Ball, where Colman and Carroll reveal their love; a very funny yet menacing meeting between Colman and Fairbanks, as they discuss the real King's potential fate; and best of all, a MAGNIFICENT climactic swordfight between the pair, as they lunge and parry furiously through the halls of a castle, while exchanging quips and one-liners.
This is swashbuckling at it's finest! If you are unfamiliar with Ronald Colman's work, you're in for a treat...Don't miss it!
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