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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 »
Reviews
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:

Romance and adventure to thrill you! 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

The Persian word for "prison" is "zendân". 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

Black Michael: There may come a time, Hentzau, when your services no longer excuse your impertinance.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Petticoat Junction: The Butler Did It (1965) See more »

Soundtracks

Artist's Life, Op.316
(1867) (uncredited)
Written by Johann Strauss
Played at the ball
Danced to by Ronald Colman and Madeleine Carroll
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Lookalike Saves Kingdom in Classic!
14 November 2000 | by cariartSee all my reviews

'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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