July 8th, 2012: The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)

Cast and Crew:  John Cromwell (Director); W.S. Van Dyke, George Cukor (Uncredited Re-shoots); John L. Balderston (Screenplay); Ben Hecht (Uncredited Writing); David O. Selznick (Producer); Alfred Newman (Score); James Wong Howe (Cinematographer); Mary Astor, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Montagu Love

What It’s About:  Major Rudolph Rassendy (Ronald Coleman), an English gentleman on vacation and meets his distant European (the country is never quite defined) cousin Rudolph (Ronald Coleman), who is about to be crowned king. The pair meet, are amazed to find that they are exact doubles and become fast friends the night before the coronation. During the ensuing night of drinking, the king is poisoned and is too sick to make the coronation-which would allow his half-brother Black Michael (Raymond Massey), whose mother was not a noble, to become king. Rudolph’s mentor, Col. Zapt (C. Aubrey Smith) and right hand man Captain Fritz von Tarlenheim (a very young David Niven) convince Rassendy to impersonate the king just long enough to ensure the coronation goes off without a hitch, but of course, there’s always a hitch…

Why Watch it Today?: The author of the novel on which today’s movie was based, Anthony Hope, died today in 1933.

Where to Get It:   Your local library; Netflix (DVD)

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