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Prisoner of Zenda [DVD] [1937] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]

Ronald Colman , Madeleine Carroll , John Cromwell , Richard Thorpe    DVD
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
Price: 8.26
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Region 1 encoding (requires a North American or multi-region DVD player and NTSC compatible TV. More about DVD formats.)

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Frequently Bought Together

Prisoner of Zenda [DVD] [1937] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] + Scaramouche [DVD] [1952] + Moonfleet [1955] [Dutch Import]
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Product details

  • Actors: Ronald Colman, Madeleine Carroll, C. Aubrey Smith, Raymond Massey, Mary Astor
  • Directors: John Cromwell, Richard Thorpe, W.S. Van Dyke
  • Writers: Anthony Hope, Ben Hecht, Donald Ogden Stewart, Edward E. Rose, John L. Balderston
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Colour, DVD-Video, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: Unrated (US MPAA rating. See details.)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: 6 Mar 2007
  • Run Time: 201 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000KJU13C
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 30,955 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)


The 1937 version is in black and white. It's a good transfer. The 1952 version is in color and looks fine. The Prisoner of Zenda may be romantic nonsense, but it's great romantic nonsense...the 1937 version, that is. The 1952 version, a nearly word-for-word, scene-for-scene remake, comes across as a pint of professionally made but still weak beer. The difference lies in the performances.

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
The Prisoner of Zenda may be romantic nonsense, but it's great romantic nonsense...the 1937 version, that is. The 1952 version, a nearly word-for-word, scene-for-scene remake, comes across as a pint of professionally made but still weak beer. The difference lies in the performances.

The story is all about honor and duty, with a great dollop of noble love added to the mix. In a small middle European country, the king, Rudolph (Ronald Colman/Stewary Granger), is to be crowned, and then he will marry the Princess Flavia (Madeleine Carroll/Deborah Kerr). But Rudolf is a hard-drinking wastrel, the despair of Colonel Zapt (C. Aubrey Smith/Louis Calhern), an elderly, upright military man who served Rudolf's father and is determined to serve the crown no matter how lacking in substance the son is. But Rudolf has a half-brother, Prince Michael (Raymond Massey/Robert Douglas), who is determined to take the throne. His henchman is the thoroughly unprincipled, charming and murderous Rupert of Hentzau (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr./James Mason). Into this seething royal mix arrives Rudolf Rassendyll (also Ronald Colman/Stewart Granger) from England, looking for a spot of good fishing. Due to a liaison years and years ago, it turns out that Rudolph and the king are remote cousins...and are as alike as identical twins. Rudolf and the king, accompanied by Zapt and a young aide, meet by chance near the king's hunting lodge. Before long the king has been drugged and abducted, Rudolph has agreed to Zapt's pleas to impersonate the king for the coronation so as to foil Black Michael's and Rupert's schemes. "Englishman," Zapt says to Rassendyll, "I'm much older than you. As a man grows old he begins to believe in fate. Fate sent you here!" Ah, but then Rudolph meets Flavia and they fall in love.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
David O. Selznick's 1937 version of Anthony Hope's oft-filmed and equally as oft-imitated warhorse The Prisoner of Zenda is often hailed as the best of many versions, and it's certainly a classic example of the genius of the Hollywood system in the Golden Age. With the plot so familiar even then - as with Gone With the Wind, Selznick was warned that the film would be a disaster, the producer betting successfully that the impending coronation of King Edward VII of Great Britain would create public interest for the Ruritanian romantic adventure - much of the strength is in the pitch perfect casting. Ronald Colman is a perfect Rudolf Rassendyl, charming, heroic and decent against all odds, the perfect gentleman but with a likeable sense of self-deprecating wit that keeps him from being remote or stuffy, though those are qualities that work against him as the uncrowned king a distant family scandal has left him the identical double of: he's not bad in his second role, but Colman never really did dissolute. Madeleine Carroll is the perfect princess and Mary Astor makes the most of the meatier role as the villain's mistress trying to save him (and her own place by his side) from his ambition. Raymond Massey's sneering looks and Old Testament disdain ensured that he never had to overexert himself to make a convincing villain as the illegitimate "Black" Michael, and he glowers splendidly here, though Douglas Fairbanks Jr. never quite gets the chances from the screenplay that he needs to outshine him as the more charismatically dastardly Rupert of Hentzau, something that would be corrected in MGM's1952 version. C. Aubrey Smith and a young David Niven also make an impression on the side of the angels.

Of course, producer David O.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 1937 version - my absolute favorite film 7 April 2011
I first saw the 1937 version of Prisoner of Zenda on TV when I was about 10 (in the early 60s). I fell in love with it then, and after innumerable subsequent re-watchings, hold it in the highest regard still.

This is a cinematic version of the book that gave us the word "Ruritanian" to signify a small, "fairy-tale", probably Balkan, kingdom. It centres on one of the great fantasies of man - what would it be like to be a king for a day?

Made to coincide with the Coronation of King George VI (presumably originally with that of Edward VIII in mind) the film is brilliantly cast, the sets are tremendous, the direction captures the romance and excitement of the book, the duels are legendary and the soaring score is wonderful.

Most important perhaps, for me at least, is that the film takes the story relatively seriously - we get a real feel for a divided Kingdom. Raymond Massey's impressive Duke Michael is no cardboard villain - he imbues the character with real emotion and ambition. Equally, Douglas Fairbanks Jnr's Rupert of Hentzau brilliantly captures the dash and elan of a pre-1914 Austro-Hungarian hussar or dragoon (his self-designed uniforms could be either).

Ronald Coleman's Rudolf Rassendyl is relaxed, charming, the quintessential English gentleman, but equally gallant and courageous. One can understand why Princess Flavia (a radiant Madeleine Carroll) falls instantly in love with him. Coleman provides an amusing and contrasting cameo as Rudolf V of Ruritania, Rassendyl's double.

There are smashing supporting performances from Mary Astor, a young David niven and the incomparable C Aubrey Smith as the redoubtable and loyal Colonel Sapt. (He once said he had played every part in the Prisoner of Zenda on stage bar the Princess!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Action with charm
Steward Granger is one of the classic American actors who is a great actor with charm, good looks and who can perform in action scenes in a way that you believe he does his stunts... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Vinnie Holst-Jensen
5.0 out of 5 stars Good film
This was a good film and very enjoyable. Will always enjoy watching it. It fits in well with the type of films I like watching.
Published 2 months ago by Tracey chalkley
5.0 out of 5 stars super service
there was talk of paying customs etc and I was glad that this did not arise - maybe you need to use overseas suppliers more often than I do, to trigger that. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Ms. Susan Batstone
5.0 out of 5 stars Colman v Granger? No contest!!
Rating ***** 1937 version, starring Ronald Colman
* 1952 version, starring Stewart Granger

John Cromwell's 1937 take on Anthony Hope's romantic adventure... Read more
Published 12 months ago by NormaE
3.0 out of 5 stars dvd quality not available
video quality picture but since this is all that is available ok. Sound excellent. There is a great need for updating the quality of older films.
Published 15 months ago by Mr. James Gilmer
5.0 out of 5 stars old classics
i bought this for a friend who loves classic dvds it was excellent she loved Ronald Colman her heart throb
Published 16 months ago by patricia
4.0 out of 5 stars What's Your Favourite One?
I have to say I do prefer the 1937 version of "The prisoner of zenda" with Ronald Colman more than MGM's 1952 version with Stewart Granger. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Mrs. Marilyn A. Rice
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect
Lovely film, always wanted to have it in my collection. Stewart Granger at his best. I've seen the film five times since it arrived.
Published 22 months ago by K. Boatman
5.0 out of 5 stars Swashbuckling through the Ages
Terrific DVD. Gives one the chance to compare both versions of this popular classic. The later version starring Stewart Granger is essentially a scene for scene remake of the... Read more
Published on 8 July 2011 by Highlander
3.0 out of 5 stars I hope the crown's a better fit? Ah, but is this remake a better fit?
While on holiday an Englishman who resembles the king of a small European nation gets mixed up in palace intrigue and royal romance when his royal doppelgänger is... Read more
Published on 21 Feb 2011 by Spike Owen
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