Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Prisoner of Zenda (John Cromwell, W.S. Van Dyke II, George Cukor, 1937)


Ronald Colman gets to play both King Rudolf V of 'Strelsau' and his look-alike - an English cousin - who doubles for him when he's kidnapped. Irreproachably, charismatically noble as Colman is though, you can't help but want to see more of villainous and slyly sexy Douglas Fairbanks Jr. The two relish in their double-talk and witty repartee so much so that it spills into their swordfighting. Even at its most far-fetched, the picture is light on its feet and too much fun to complain about. And the lensing by the great James Wong Howe is so painterly and majestic that it lends class even to the really clunky bits of plotting.

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