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The Prisoner of Zenda (1952)

Approved | | Adventure | 14 November 1952 (USA)
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An Englishman vacationing in a Ruritarian kingdom is recruited to impersonate his cousin, the soon-to-be-crowned king when the monarch is drugged and kidnapped.

Director:

Richard Thorpe

Writers:

John L. Balderston (screenplay), Noel Langley (screenplay) | 4 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Stewart Granger ... Rudolf Rassendyll / King Rudolf V
Deborah Kerr ... Princess Flavia
Louis Calhern ... Col. Zapt
Jane Greer ... Antoinette de Mauban
Lewis Stone ... The Cardinal
Robert Douglas ... Michael, Duke of Strelsau
Robert Coote ... Fritz von Tarlenheim
Peter Brocco ... Johann
Francis Pierlot Francis Pierlot ... Josef
James Mason ... Rupert of Hentzau
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Storyline

English trout fisher Rudolf Rassendyll is about the only tourist not coming for the coronation of Central-European King Rudolf V at Strelsau, but happens to be a distant relative and is approached on account of their canning resemblance to stand in for the drunken king, in order to prevent his envious half-brother Michael, who arranged spiking his wine to seize the throne when the reputedly less then dutiful Rudolf stays away. The ceremony goes well, and he gets acquainted with the charming royal bride, related princess Flavia, but afterward the king is found to be abducted; he must continue the charade and once the hiding place, the castle of Zenda, is found is involved in the fight between political parties for control over Rudolf V, his throne and his bride, for which a formidable third candidate, Michael's disloyal co-conspirator Rupert of Hentzau, was waiting in the curtains. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Swashbuckling Adventure In The Grand Style!

Genres:

Adventure

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 November 1952 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Zenda See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,708,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$2,078,000, 31 December 1952

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$5,628,967, 31 December 1952
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Lewis Stone (The Cardinal) previously played Rudolf Rassendyll and King Rudolf V of Ruritania in The Prisoner of Zenda (1922). See more »

Goofs

When Rudolf and Hentzlau are face to face, Hentzlau remarks that he left his dagger in Michael. Yet when they are fighting with sabers, Hentzlau draws a dagger from his belt sheath. See more »

Quotes

Rudolf Rassendyll: I was hoping that our skeleton was safe at home in our family cupboard.
Fritz von Tarlenheim: Some skeletons are prodigious travelers.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: Toward the close of the last century, when History still wore a Rose, and Politics had not yet outgrown the Waltz, a Great Royal Scandal was whispered in the Anterooms of Europe. However true it was, any resemblance in THE PRISONER OF ZENDA to Heroes, Villains, or Heroines, living or dead, is a coincidence not intended ... See more »

Connections

Featured in Stairs (1986) See more »

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User Reviews

A colourful but superfluous remake of the 1937 adventure classic
24 December 2002 | by DrMMGilchristSee all my reviews

'The Prisoner of Zenda' (1952) is a remake - using the same shooting script, which was in turn adapted from the 1890s stage-play - of the 1937 Ronald Colman/Douglas Fairbanks jr version. While the colour photography makes quite an impact, especially with the costumes, sadly Stewart Granger is not in the Colman league in the dual role of Rudolf Rassendyll and Rudolf V. In fact, the film seems as unnecessary as the recent remake of 'Psycho' - Yes, it's in colour, but with a less interesting cast than the original, so why bother? There was scope for a new film based on Hope's novel, but it needed to be opened out more, with greater development of some of the subordinate characters (always a problem in filming a story written in the first-person).

Stewart Granger was one of the better of the later generation of swashbuckling stars, but somehow he lacks Colman's dignity as Rassendyll. Deborah Kerr at least has the merit of having the 'Elphberg red' hair (which the hero too should have!), and does well enough as the highly idealised Princess Flavia. Much as I generally like James Mason, he's no substitute for Douglas Fairbanks jr. Although he brings out the underlying viciousness of Rupert von Hentzau more effectively than Fairbanks did, he is too old and rather too austere for the role. Hentzau's deep malevolence is far more disturbing coming from what appears to be a flippant and charming boy in his very early 20s. Mason could have been a *wonderful* Duke Michael, although here - as per the 1937 version - that character was still under-written, and again cast too old (Robert Douglas).

Probably the most successful piece of casting in this version is Jane Greer as Antoinette de Mauban, the French courtesan who has attached herself to Michael. As in 1937 (with Mary Astor), an actress best known for her 'film noir' roles is ideal in this part, because Antoinette *is* in many respects an enigmatic, double-crossing 'noir' dame in 19C costume, who must choose whether to betray her lover in order to save him. Whose side is she really on? - It's a great, ultimately tragic sub-plot, which could have been given more weight as a counterpoint to the bittersweet Rassendyll-Flavia romance - but the antique 1890s-1930s script throws it away.

In conclusion: while this film gains some visual charm from the use of colour, the 1937 version has the more memorable performances; but neither quite lives up to the expectations in my imagination, fuelled by the books with their Charles Gibson plates.


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