18 user 3 critic

The Prisoner of Zenda (1979)

In order to save King Rudolph of Ruritania from assassins and murderous usurpers, the kingdom hires a look-a-like London cabby to impersonate the Monarch.


Richard Quine


Dick Clement (screenplay), Ian La Frenais (screenplay) | 2 more credits »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Peter Sellers ... Rudolf IV / Rudolf V / Syd Frewin
Lynne Frederick ... Princess Flavia
Lionel Jeffries ... General Sapt
Elke Sommer ... The Countess
Gregory Sierra ... The Count
Jeremy Kemp ... Duke Michael
Catherine Schell ... Antoinette
Simon Williams ... Fritz
Stuart Wilson ... Rupert of Hentzau
Norman Rossington ... Bruno
John Laurie ... Archbishop
Graham Stark ... Erik
Michael Balfour ... Luger
Arthur Howard Arthur Howard ... Deacon
Ian Abercrombie ... Johann


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 life, and switch him with a look-a-like London cabby. Throw in two(!) lovely blondes, treachery, and a battle for life and honour, and enjoy life at its zaniest. Written by Derek Picken <dpicken@email.msn.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Is the cabbie the King or is the King the cabbie ? Confusion reigns in Ruritania.


Adventure | Comedy


PG | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


As has been noted with other films during his career, Peter Sellers was said to be the cause behind most of the tension which occurred during production of "The Prisoner of Zenda." During the scene involving a steam engine and carriages, the comedian refused to stay on the set due to the steam engine being in the color of green. To appease Sellers, the film crew repainted the entire engine in the color of blue and then painted it back to its original color after filming was finished. See more »


As Peter Sellers and his entourage approach the city in this Ruritarian romantic adventure, a tank truck and two Volkswagens can be seen on the horizon. See more »


Rudolf IV: Michael, why do you hate me so?
Duke Michael: Because you are conceited, arrogant, spineless, selfish, shallow, pity, pompous and pitiful!
Rudolf IV: But apart from that?
See more »


Referenced in The 52nd Annual Academy Awards (1980) See more »

User Reviews

Simply unfunny
5 August 2000 | by ouija-3See all my reviews

Prisoner of Zenda should have much to be proud of: nice music by Henry Mancini, good dual performance by Peter Sellers and gorgeous-looking cinematography and impressive sets and locations.

Unfortunately, all this adds to nothing. The film is as if it were written seriously with the screenwriters assuming that it could be turned into a comedy simply by having Gregory Sierra overact and bulge his eyeballs every now and then and the rest of the cast move about in a humorous way. But it doesn't work that way, even Sellers cannot inject enough comedy into this film(in fact, much unlike Sierra, he is slightly underplaying his roles, which is good).

In the end, one gets the impression that the team had a large amount of money and a good cast, but didn't know what to do with them.

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Release Date:

17 August 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Zenda See more »


Box Office


$12,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,425,315, 28 May 1979

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (Ontario)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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