The Prisoner Of Zenda

  • 1979
  • Movie
  • PG
  • Adventure, Comedy

Following three silent versions (in 1912, 1915, and 1922) and two sound adaptations (1937, 1952) of the Anthony Hope novel, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA was again put before the cameras, this time as a vehicle for the multiple talents of Peter Sellers. The story opens with the death of King Rudolf IV (Sellers) as a champagne cork punctures the hot air balloon...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

  • Watch on
Rating:

Following three silent versions (in 1912, 1915, and 1922) and two sound adaptations (1937, 1952) of the Anthony Hope novel, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA was again put before the cameras, this time as a vehicle for the multiple talents of Peter Sellers. The story opens with the death of King

Rudolf IV (Sellers) as a champagne cork punctures the hot air balloon he is riding in. After the fatal plunge, his son (once more Sellers) becomes the rightful heir to the Ruritanian throne. His brother Kemp also wants the crown. By chance a Cockney cab driver (Sellers again) is found to be an

exact double of the future king, so he is employed to fill in the heir's shoes until the coronation. Meanwhile, the genuine heir is held prisoner by his jealous brother in a fiendish plot to wrest away the crown from Sellers. The cab driver who would be king begins enjoying his new role and takes

up with lovely Frederick, the heir's fiancee,the economy of whose own country depends on the potatoes Ruritania supplies. Complications, running gags, and a crazy turn of events keep the comedy lively. Sellers' dual characters are responsible for a great deal of the insanity. As the heir, he

suffers from a slight speech impediment, with some wonderfully zany results. He balances this well with his cab driver role, a more serious characterization that also comes off nicely for good humor. Unfortunately, two Sellers simply aren't enough to carry the entire film. The pacing is

surprisingly flat, never capturing the tension or excitement the material demands. The movie also never quite figures out what line it's taking. At times it seems to be affectionate parody, at others serious drama. This split is never resolved, leaving the talents of Sellers and his supporting

players to hold the whole structure together. Shot on location in Vienna, Austria, it captures the period well and contains some fine photography. Although it's generally a disappointment, it's well worth a look for Sellers alone, in what was to be one of his last films.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Released: 1979
  • Rating: PG
  • Review: Following three silent versions (in 1912, 1915, and 1922) and two sound adaptations (1937, 1952) of the Anthony Hope novel, THE PRISONER OF ZENDA was again put before the cameras, this time as a vehicle for the multiple talents of Peter Sellers. The story… (more)

Show More »