Skip to comments.Movie for a Sunday afternoon: "The Prisoner of Zenda"(1952)
Posted on 01/05/2014 11:33:39 AM PST by ReformationFan
Here is Christian Spotlight on Entertainment’s review of the film-
and for a follow up, this is “Get Smart”’s funny take on the same story in “The King Lives?” episode-
I prefer the earlier Ronald Colman version myself. I remember reading that Richard Thorpe would run the old version and basically duplicate the scene in the remake. Both are good, with great casts; I just like the old one a bit more.
I prefer the Ronald Coleman version too. Though James Mason could play a really good bad guy, Douglas Fairbanks Jr as Heintzau and Raymond Massey as Black Michael were just wonderful
I have a slight preference for the 1952 version but that’s probably because I saw it first. I’ll grant that David Niven’s Fritz von Tarlenheim easily beats Robert Coote’s.
“Get Smart”’s comedy take on both the 1937 and 1952 films is pretty good, right down to its spoof on the final scenes-
Also, the final 1/3 of Blake Edwards’ “The Great Race” does a funny comedy version of the story as well. And they’re both funnier than the disappointing 1979 spoof with Peter Sellers.
As an odd note, in his parody novels of 19th Century British history, the author George McDonald Fraser used his antihero Sir Harry Flashman in a more fleshed out version of The Prisoner of Zenda, in his novel Royal Flash.
Fraser’s novels were noted for their fairly close approximation of the rather outrageous times of the British Empire in that period, along with many of the world’s real villains and scoundrels they contended with.
The first in the series, titled just Flashman, is an extraordinarily good history of the fall of British Afghanistan. It is bawdy, treacherous, cowardly, and features perhaps the worst military commander in history, General Elphinstone, who turned retreat into a terrible disaster. With of course, Flashman smack in the middle of things.
I loved the Flashman novels. They were extremely accurate. Royal Flash was one of my least favorites, as it was so heavily derived from Zenda. The film version Royal Flash was pretty good, IMO. I though Malcolm McDowell made a splendid Flashy.
A lot of people agreed that Royal Flash was the weakest of the series. The movie had a stupendous cast, and Fraser had done a very successful screenplay of The Three Musketeers, though The Four Musketeers was less successful.
For most of the audience, there was just no familiarity with either the characters or the history. Making matters worse, the timing was of an action comedy, which is a half-tone off from a historical character comedy.
Their best bet would have been to start from the start with Flashman. Even though it would have stretched into two movies, or even a miniseries, if it were done today, the background of historical Afghanistan would resonate. It would need a masterful screenwriter, however.
In any case, the film was well done, with a great cast and director. I loved the Musketeer films as well.