Skip to main content

The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)

The Prisoner of Zenda. Feature film. (1937, 101 mins) IMDB

...A charming, interesting, well-made film....

R

onald Colman plays an Englishman who has come to a fictional European country (think Germany or Austria of 100 years ago) to enjoy some time fishing. He's immediately mistaken for the crown prince who looks exactly like him because he plays both roles.

Madelaine Carroll is a princess. While she has a small role in the film, each moment she's on screen is a pleasure because he was beautiful and captivating.

C. Audry Smith plays a grandfatherly-senior advisor to the king. David Niven, in a small role, plays the junior advisor.

Raymond Massey, in an amazing performance, plays the king's older brother. He is a villain to the core. He believes he should be king and not his brother, but they won't let him be king because they had different mothers.

Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. plays an aristocrat aligned with the brother, but plays the role with whim and humour. Quite a contrast.

As for the story. Our hero, the commoner, arrives in the fictional country to go fishing. Immediately people stop and stare because as we learn he looks identical to the crown prince whose coronation is tomorrow.

After his arrival and out in the wilderness, he happens to meet the crown prince and his two advisors. They hit it off because of their identical look and learn they share common ancestors. They are cousins.

Invited back to the lodge, the king-to-be and company drink and eat and toast. Seems the king drinks a bit too much, and, well, the evil brother has spiked his wine with something and he passes out.

Morning comes and the state of affairs is in ruins. The king is not conscious and can't attend his coronation. His brother has drafted documents to take over as reagent. If a king isn't crowned, he'll never be crowned and Michael will win.

Enter the inciting incident. The advisors convince our hero to be the king for the purposes of the coronation. Just one day. He reluctantly agrees. The king is crowned and Michael's plan is foiled until he hatches a new one.

The brother orders the Fairbanks character to kidnap the real king. As a result our hero gets to play king for longer than he bargained. Enter the princess.

I should note, everyone who meets him doesn't suspect a thing.

Our hero and our love interest hit it off and the love story of this film has started. Lots of scenes in Act II are between them, yet, the princess doesn't have a great deal of screen time.

The game of identities can't continue. Our hero wants the princess and will stay on as king to keep her. The brother wants to take over and get rid of the king. The advisors want the true king to be in place. The Fairbanks character wants to gain some wealth and power from the happenings. Something has to give.

The intrigue that develops is quite convoluted and dynamic but ultimately leads to a showdown where our hero goes to the castle to rescue the king and does.

The brother is murdered. The Fairbanks character stabs him with a knife. Guards are killed. Then the big fight. Our hero and Fairbanks in a sword fight. Effective and entertaining until our hero gains the upper hand. Fairbanks jumps out of the window to fight another day. Our hero cuts the rope to allow the draw bridge down and reinforcements to enter. The king is saved and is able to rule as if nothing happened.

The film ends with our hero meeting with the princess. They are madly in love, but she must put that aside for the good of her country. No happy ever after.

The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) is an enjoyable film with lively characters. The quality of it all stands up some seventy plus years after it was made.

Posted 2009/03/01 at 17h57ET in Movie Commentary.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Day 109: Writing a Novel—The Deep Blue Hold

Sunday, March 6, 2017 Note: Unedited writings from my notebook for this novel. Square bracket items represent added comments.
At 18:47 Office ... I barely remembered anything about this story... H as it really been three months? I guess it has. I put it out of my mind [so much so] that I barely remembered anything about this story. Not even the title. [Unreal!!!!!!] I had the general premise and an ending—enough I thought for a novel. What I lacked was a determination and desire to want to write it. Why bother… I wasn’t enjoying the process and I had no reason to believe the result wouldn’t be anything more than what’s gone before—nothing.
James Piper Kitchener, Ontario Post comments on facebook page. Follow me on twitter. Posted 2017/04/14 at 14h02ET in The Deep Blue Cage | Writing A Novel

Words: Fairy—Ferry

Thursday, September 6, 2012
A homonym.
FAIRY—A fairy tale. A fairy godmother. Fairy—not a long, long way to run.
FERRY—A boat or ship to transport drunken Swedes back home from Copenhagen. It’s the Danish beer.
Fairy Ferry Samantha the Swimming Fairy by Daisy Meadows Evening Ferry by Katherine Towler
Posted 2012/09/06 at 5h02ET in Words, Writing.

Bedtime Stories (2008)

Thursday, May 14, 2009 Bedtime Stories. Feature film. (2008, 99 mins) IMDB...a tame comedy that results in few laughs... There's the young Adam Sandler as a boy living with his sister in a small hotel in LA. His father owns and operates it. Sandler helps out. The dream of father and son is for the son to take over some day except there's a problem. The father isn't a very good manager and the place isn't making enough money. Enter the villain to buy it off him. The villain being a Mr. Hilton type who is able to turn lead into gold. Fast forward twenty years or so. The hotel is a large, thriving business, but for Sandler, instead of owning it or even managing it, he's the custodian who repairs broken dishwashers and replaces burnt-out light bulbs. The promise by the villain to put him in charge was either forgotten or ignored. Enter his estranged sister. She's a health freak with two young children. The father left a long time ago. Part of the humour…