The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)
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Holy shit did I love Fairbanks in this!
I've seen a lot of riffs on The Prisoner of Zenda, but never an adaptation (sorry, PICTURIZATION!) of the actual story. The 1937 version came as the most recommended, so here we are. The Victorian-era fairy tale is fun and full of wit, though the main romance drips with melodrama smothered in violins. The marketing materials hyped what was to be the greatest sword fight ever filmed, but I don't know about that, even for 1937. It's no Scaramouche. For me, the best duel by far is all done in words, as Black Michael and Rudolph make it plain they both know the other knows Michael tried to kill the king. Major props to the effects, managing to create interaction between two Ronald Colmans in a way that had me wondering if Colman had a twin brother. And going back to those riffs I was talking about, the Doctor Who serial The Androids of Tara not only overtly steals the plot of Zenda, but I was surprised and amused to see Douglas Fairbanks Jr.'s lusty secondary villain take his leave of the action the exact same way Count Grendel would in Who.
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In 3 official lists
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This movie ranks #61 in National Film Registry
This movie ranks #189 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films
This movie ranks #624 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown