The Prisoner of Zenda (1937 and 1952 Versions)
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Top Customer Reviews
The story is simple, and has been done many times before; a drugged and kidnapped monarch-to-be must be impersonated by look-alike at the coronation, lest his kingdom fall into ruin at the hands of an evil half-brother!
The David O. Selznick-produced 1937 version offers the immortal Ronald Colman in the dual role of Rudolf, European crown prince, and Rudolf Rassendyll, his look-alike British cousin, end product of a brief affair of an ancestor; the radiant Madeleine Carroll is the royal betrothed, who falls in love with the pretender; Raymond Massey portrays 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), is the definitive Rupert of Hentzau, the suavely villainous ally of Michael.
In the hands of this PERFECT cast (with terrific support by C. Aubrey Smith, a young David Niven, and Mary Astor) "Zenda" 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 about a British education!Read more ›
The 1937 version of "The Prisoner of Zenda" is one of my favorite films ever...it's one of the very few movies that both generations of my family enjoy. A splendid story with fairly good action scenes, witty dialogue, and a nobility behind the events and characters which manages to escape being corny or archaic. The characters are cast to perfection (Douglas Faribanks Jr. IS Rupert of Hentzau--this is, essentially, his defining role) and most of the actors would continue to play roles with similar personalities throughout their careers. The coronation scene (using Handel's "See Now the Conq'ring Hero Comes" from Judas Maccabaeus) is particularly notable.
The 50's version is almost a scene-for-scene remake, but with inferior actors, totally fake-looking sets (truly idiotic...Brigadoon-esque), and absurd 'humorous' additions to the script sprinkled throughout.
Buy this for the original film; the set is still worth it.
Oh, and, the novel is even better.
"The Prisoner of Zenda" stars Ronald Colman as Rudolph Rassendyll. Mr. Colman was one of the few movie actors to survive the transition to sound. While many of his peers were found to have horrible speaking voice, Mr. Colman was blessed by the God. His cultivated English accent is a joy to hear. But I digress.
An English gentleman, Rudolph Rassendyll visits the country of Ruritania. Initially he is confused by the stares of the natives. He finds out why after meeting two loyal retainers of Crown Prince Rudolph, Captain von Tarlenheim (David Niven) and Colonel Zapt. Mr. Rassendyll bears an extraordinary resemblance to the Crown Prince Rudolph. Some generations before, a future King of Ruritania had an affair with the wife of an English Lord. Once a generation, the Elphberg face had popped up in the Rassendyll line.
The political situation in Ruritania is precarious. While Rudolph is to become King the next day, he has an older brother, Michael. Due to a legal technicality, Rudolph has precedence to the throne. However, Rudolph is viewed as a drunk and a wastrel by many of the subjects. In some quarters Black Michael is more popular than Rudolph.
Prince Rudolph is drugged to ensure he doesn't make his coronation. A Crown Prince too drunk to make his own coronation will never be King. At this point the movie really begins. Mr. Rassendyll is persuaded (by Colonel Zapt) to replace his cousin at the coronation. The forces of Black Michael led by right hand man, Count Rupert of Hentzau (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) kidnap the drugged King as Rudolph is crowned.
The maneuvering and intrigues by both sides are involved and complex. The story is fast-paced and engaging.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A very good presentation of Hopes book about the kings of Ruritania and ver romantic.Published 8 days ago by Sigvald Grøsfjeld
I discovered Ronald Coleman in this movie several months ago and loved his performance. Since then I've bought this and five others and have loved all of them, especially Random... Read morePublished 26 days ago by Lover of English
Of course Ronald Coleman's is the best. Interesting to compare both 🎄😍Published 2 months ago by Marilyn Conroy
Great product. Quick delivery. Will buy again....5 star....thanks.Published 2 months ago by Norma Swede
The original Anthony Hope novel on which these movies were based was the founding father of a string of "Ruritanian romances"--swashbuckling adventure tales of, usually, an... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Chrijeff
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