The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
In this costume romance taken from Anthony Hope's swashbuckling book, Ronald Colman stars as Rudolph, a commoner forced to assume the identity of his look-alike cousin, the kidnapped King Rudolf V.
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Critic Reviews for The Prisoner of Zenda
This adaptation holds up really well, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. is terrific as the bad guy.
Nigh on to perfect swashbuckler.
Ronald Coleman is one of the greatest leading men in American cinema. High tea style acting mixed with an air of swashbuckling macho. Zenda is a treat.
As much fun as a swashbuckler could hope to be.
Audience Reviews for The Prisoner of Zenda
"prisoner of zenda" is an original british swashbuckler with aristocraticly dashing ronald colman as the brave knight who defends the secred throne of a nation; madeleine carroll, the british rose, as the divine love interest; dandy douglas fairbanks jr. and raymond massey form a league of doublecrossing vallainy. the infatuation over this swashbucking tale has been remade four times in cinematic history.
colman impersonates dual roles in this piece, the king to be throned and his identifical double who is merely an english man visiting outlandish nation. the king-to-be has been narcotized before the day he's about to be throned in consecration. so the loyal defenders of the king scheme to have the englishman as temporal substitute during his recovery. but the king's grudgy half brother covets the throne while his mischievous accomplice(fairbanks) drools over his mistress (mary astor). to add up the hardship, the englishman falls head over heels in love with the queen-to-be (carroll)...with all the conditions above, the price of honor and chivalric nobility appears precious. wouldn't that be the whole swashbuckler thing about?
ronald colman has the elegant screen presence as well as his composed charisma in the aristocratic costumes, while madelein carroll luminates the scenes with her striking beauty in the utmost degree, particularly in the cross-staring in the annoitment scene. douglas fairbanks jr. has limited screen time but remain impressive with his naughty mannerism and rascal-alike grinning.
"the prisoner of zenda" has every quintessential element of swashbuckler gendre except the consummation of romance since the queen-to-be selects her destined course of serving her royal house at the cost of her great one true love. the scene madelein bursts into an abrupt change of mind is sheer excellence of good acting. this is an aloof swashbuckler without the reward of his fair woman. perhaps tragic love emphasizes its gallantry for the ultimate swashbuckler without glorious compensation.
In the 1930's and 40's when you see Selznick's name on a film it was always top notch in every way. The acting, cinematography, costumes and set design are all A+. If you have seen Moon Over Parador then you know the plot of this film. The best thing about this film is the performance of Fairbanks Jr. There are multiple bad guys in this but he outshines them all , alot like Jeffery Wright in Shaft. A great swashbuckling film that is left open for a sequel that was too depressing of a book for Selznick to make.More
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