17 thoughts on “TBT: The Prisoner of Zenda (1952)

  1. As always, my big complaint is the shoulder pads in the men’s clothing, but in the 50’s it’s less than in the 40’s. BTW: the buckler is a small shield. During the Italian Renaissance, bands of young bravos would walk down the streets raking their swords across their bucklers as a challenge to other young men, hence “swashing their bucklers.”

  2. I love the 1937 version of this movie. It’s just delightful. I’ll have to check out the 1952 one! Thanks for the review!

    1. NOBODY, even the glorious James Mason, can match Douglas Fairbanks Jr. as Rupert of Hentzau. I saw the 1937 version as a kid and my mother kept trying to convince me that Rupert was the bad guy. I couldn’t believe her. I still don’t.

  3. One of my favourite films – thank you for covering it. On the whole it’s true to the novel, and keeps much of the novel’s snappy dialogue. Unfortunately it compresses the ending and deprives us of a very touching scene where Flavia discovers that her lover is not the king. There are some odd intonations in Stewart Granger’s delivery which he must have picked up from Ronald Colman’s performance in the earlier film – this film follows the earlier one almost line for line and gesture for gesture, and Colman has a habit of orating. Granger is much better than Colman, who looks tentative and worried throughout. On the other hand, Colman is very good in The Masquerader, a film with a similar ‘substitute’ theme, where the nice substitute actually gets the girl and the position when the bounder conveniently overdoses on drugs. The tentative, worried style works fine there. Sorry to go on and on, and nothing to do with costume. Good ballroom crowd scenes.

  4. Sadly, I have a personal problem with Stewart Granger since the man “mistook” hotal evening service with something else. But I love those old Hollywood films, the (very much imagined) past is so colorful and sparkly!

  5. The costumes are a mixed bag for me. As much as I liked the 1937 version, a part of me wishes that the 1952 version wasn’t a shot-by-shot remake of the earlier film. I have a few issues regarding the plot overall.

  6. The 1937 version is perfect. Ronald Coleman, C. Aubrey Smith, Raymond Massey, David Niven, Mary Astor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. … marvelous.

  7. Having read the original novel and then watched the movies, I enjoyed the 1937 version. I watched the 1952 version for the sake of completion but found it pointless. If you’re remaking it anyway, why not do a fresh interpretation of the novel?

    I found Royal Flash (1975) to oddly be the most vivacious interpretation of Hope’s work (though the concept appears in several movies). Owing to its director, Richard Lester, the action scenes were more inventive. Also one thing it did that I felt the other adaptations missed is showing some of the actual world and geography of the fictional Germanic nation. The ’37 and ’52 versions look like they take place in a void in terms of exteriors. Royal Flash has actual… towns.

    I prefer the book but appreciated most of the film versions.

  8. I love K J Charles recent novel The Henchmen of Zenda, which is a modern m/m retelling. Highly recommended!

  9. Have you seen the Doctor Who episode “The Androids of Tara”? It’s part of the Key to Time arc and is a terrific and hilarious take on The Prisoner of Zenda.

  10. I had no idea Kerr or Greer, especially the latter, had played such roles (apart from Deborah Kerr’s “King and I”). And any movie with James Mason is worth watching.

    1. I was surprised to find that there’s no WCW for Deborah Kerr. I just saw a bio of her on TV and realized most of her roles were in period costume. Let’s get that WCW working for Kerr!

  11. Peter Sellers did a version of prisoner as well. It was quite funny back then, not sure if it’s held up though!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: