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The Prisoner of Zenda

7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Of all tales of gallantry and romance, few are as durable as Andrew Hope's beloved swashbuckler. There are at least seven screen versions, including this 1922 adaptation featuring some of the era's most luminous players. Lewis Stone, no stranger to leading-man roles in the 1920s, plays the dual role of a kidnapped king and the look-alike Englishman recruited to fill in for him. The cast includes Barbara La Marr, the exotic and ill-fated looker hailed as "The Girl Who Is Too Beautiful." And Ramon Novarro, then named Ramon Samaniegos, gives his breakthrough performance as villainous Rupert. Because of his rising stardom, Novarro was top-billed in rereleases of the film, as is the case in this print.

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Ramon Novarro, Lewis Stone, Alice Terry
  • Directors: Rex Ingram
  • Format: NTSC
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: MGM
  • DVD Release Date: January 10, 2011
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0046CLSGS
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,718 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Dennis M. Southwood on August 7, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The five-star review here must be for the Warner Brothers Archive Collection DVD of "The Prisoner of Zenda." If it were for the Grapevine Video release, I'm sure it would have mentioned the abysmal quality of the DVD. Grapevine's transfer to DVD was made from an extremely bad print of the film, with absolutely no attempt at restoration. Many of the title cards are so dark as to be unreadable; surely it would have been a simple matter to create new title cards for this release--unless the Grapevine people couldn't read them either. The contrast in one section of the film is so high that characters and objects are reduced to featureless blobs on the screen.

I agree completely with the other reviewer's comments on the acting and the cinematic qualities of the 1922 film. I'll be returning the Grapvine DVD, and I'm willing to try the Warner Brothers release, but in the meantime I'll stick with the 1937 Ronald Coleman version.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By STARGAZER on August 14, 2010
Format: DVD
The 1922 "Prisoner of Zenda" is surely one of the best silent films ever made. Its major actors knew better than to over-emote and it obviously had a very competent director in Rex Ingram. Even though the plot,costumes, and scenery are straight out of an operetta, the players mostly come off as natural, demonstrating that good acting was not something that somehow emerged with the advent of sound. Even Ramon Navarro as the villainous Rupert of Hentzau shows himself to be far more than just a pretty face as he turns his role into a droll, animated tour de force.

The picture begins in the manor house of Englishman Rudolph Rassendyll, the camera zeroing in on the extremely beautiful eyes of Lewis Stone, by now a 43-year-old stage veteran who, in most other respects, looks like a rather ordinary middle-aged man in trim physical condition. But, of course, there is nothing ordinary about Stone's histrionic talent and, besides, he has all the charm that made him so beloved as Judge Hardy about 15 years later in the "Andy Hardy" series. Rassendyll decides to attend the coronation of his cousin, Rudolph of Ruritania, [whose twin he could be] and finds his kinsman to be a dissipated mess. Lewis Stone plays both parts, needless to say. The weak king-to-be has an ambitious but evil brother, Duke Michael, who plots to seize the throne for himself and kill Rudolph in the process. On the eve before the coronation, the duke arranges for his brother to be drugged so that he will not be in any shape to attend the ceremony. Therefore, the king's loyalists persuade the British Rassendyll to take his place for a day and keep Michael from having his way.

The Ruritarian Rudolph has a beautiful fiancee played by the luminous Alice Terry.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Trevor Willsmer TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 5, 2014
Format: DVD
Metro's 1922 version of The Prisoner of Zenda is an early example of what would later become the house style for many forgotten prestige pictures at MGM in the Thirties: a lot of money, a lot of class but not a lot of panache or excitement for much of the running time. It's a solid rather than inspired adaptation (already the third) that's hampered somewhat by a plot that isn't always silent movie-friendly, with much of the first half of the film taken up with character actors sitting at tables delivering exposition. Lewis Stone may be closer to novelist Anthony Hope's hero Rudolf Rassendyll than later incarnations, very much the distinguished and capable middle aged English gentleman but not exactly over-blessed with charisma in either role, though at times he looks so very like Ronald Colman you can understand why the latter would be cast in the classic 1937 version. For charisma you have to look to Ramon Novarro's charmingly duplicitous Rupert of Hentzau ("While you're unhung, Hell lacks its master!"): just on the cusp of stardom and heroic roles he knows he's got the best part in the picture and knows just how to steal it. Other key roles, like Robert Edeson's Colonel Zapt, aren't so well cast as in later versions, but Alice Terry and Barbara La Marr make formidable leading ladies.

Rex Ingram's direction is somewhat hit and miss. He never disgraces himself but he seems hampered by the talkative nature of the plot and in the first half of the film it's only in sporadic scenes like the coronation that he really seems to show what he can do.
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By h on July 30, 2015
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
You don't get to see many films starring Barbara Lamarr who burned out before reaching Her 30th birthday.She's good in this movie along with Ramon Novarro and Lewis Stone.
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