Der Ruritanische Widerstand - The Ruritanian Resistance

Films of The Prisoner of Zenda 3: Comedies

1979 (Peter Sellers)

 1979 poster
Poster (Thanks to Mathieu)

Despite being something of a Ruritania completist, I decline to comment on the Peter Sellers spoof version, in which the lookalike is a Cockney cabbie called Sid... It is best to draw a very heavy veil over it - an embarrassment to all concerned!

1988 (animated) (IMDb review)

Another case of DON'T GO THERE. PLEASE. I informed the IMDb about the existence of this, and have posted a fuller review there. This Australian cartoon, evidently aimed at less-discerning children, ranks with the Sellers version as a Prisoner of Zenda too far. An absence of swordfights, doomed romances or tragic deaths renders this travesty pointless in every sense.

Hope's characters have been conflated or altered, and new 'comical' ones added. Apart from the two young women, they are drawn without charm. At least we have (for the first time) red-haired Rudolfs and Ruritanians with German accents, but I can't think of anything else positive to say. The 1902 setting (the book came out in 1894, but the framing device in the sequel 'Rupert of Hentzau' implies a date c. 1876) is too modern: there are cars and telephones, which would have made the conspiracies fall apart. Rudolf and Michael are presented as non-identical twins, with Rudolf V the younger, more virtuous and popular (Rudi virtuous? Popular? Yeah, right...!). Antoinette has been transformed into a respectable young princess (!), and Rupert of Hentzau has been excised completely. So, after all that, why call it The Prisoner of Zenda? As a child 30 years ago, I was perfectly happy with the Colman version: do modern children really need this kind of oversimplified slapstick?

1988 Gallery


Cover of PAL VHS:
Rudolf & Michael


Cover of R1 DVD:
Antoinette & Rassendyll


Michael & Rassendyll


Michael threatens Rudolf

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The first cut won't hurt at all,
The second only makes you wonder...
- Propaganda, Duel