The Prisoner of Zenda is a 1937 American adventure film based on the Anthony Hope 1894 novel of the same name and the 1896 play. Of the many film adaptations, this is considered by many to be the definitive version .
This is a classic swashbuckler. Rudolph Rassendyll, Rudolf V's identical distant cousin, is asked to risk his life and impersonate the would-be king when his relative is kidnapped before his impending coronation. If Rudolf V isn't present at the ceremony, he will forfeit the crown to his younger brother. Complications ensue when Princess Flavia, the cousin's betrothed, begins to notice a "personality change" in her fiancé.
The film starred Ronald Colman , Madeleine Carroll and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. , with a supporting cast including C. Aubrey Smith, Raymond Massey, Mary Astor and David Niven .
It was directed by John Cromwell , produced by David O. Selznick for Selznick International Pictures, and distributed by United Artists. The screenplay was written by John L. Balderston, adapted by Wells Root from the novel, with dramatisation by Edward Rose; Donald Ogden Stewart was responsible for additional dialogue, and Ben Hecht and Sidney Howard made uncredited contributions.
Alfred Newman received the first of his 45 Academy Award nominations, for Original Music Score , while Lyle R. Wheeler was nominated for Best Art Direction .
In 1991, the film was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in its National Film Registry.
Ronald Colman as Major Rudolf Rassendyll and the "prisoner of Zenda" (King Rudolf V)
Madeleine Carroll as Princess Flavia
C. Aubrey Smith as Colonel Zapt
Raymond Massey as Duke Michael
Mary Astor as Antoinette de Mauban
David Niven as Captain Fritz von Tarlenheim
Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as Rupert of Hentzau