Anthony Hope's classic tale gets a decidedly 'un-classic' treatment at the hands of Peter Sellers. Following the story somewhat, friends of the new King Rudolph of Ruritania fear for his ... See full summary »
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
The chamberlain, announcing the ball from the staircase as it is about to begin, is seen to change position in alternate shots, from the center of the stairs, to the side, back to the center, etc. See more »
I hope your trout take as much interest in me as you do. I shan't be able to land them fast enough.
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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 »
The old swashbuckling mythology in capital letters: King, Country, Duty, Courage, and Honor, featuring a handsome, fearless Hero; a beautiful and perfectly behaved Princess; a stalwart Elderly Advisor; a grasping Villain; his insinuating Right Hand; and so on. It's so stereotyped that it could take up a whole chapter of Carl Jung.
So it's amazing that this production manages to pull it off so well. Maybe it's the unusually effective screenplay, which doesn't waste a line, and somehow manages not to rehash creaky dialogue. Maybe it's the actors, who carry their roles with as much dignity as if this is the first time anyone's ever done them. Or maybe it's James Mason as the only recognizable human in the story, a charming and calculating psychopath with razor-sharp wit and stunning powers of manipulation.
However they did it, the results are a joy. Swordplay, love affairs, grand balls, royalty, and political intrigue - it all works. Put your brain in low gear, sit back, and enjoy the ride.
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