Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

I Just Did What Neither Cromwell Nor Thorpe Ever Did:


Palmerin
 Share

Recommended Posts

I read THE PRISONER OF ZENDA.

Now I know for a fact that the script of Balderston, Langley and company is ABSOLUTE GARBAGE! The real plot is distorted so much that the only elements that remain true to the novel are the title and the names of the characters. Hope was not treated as respectfully as Margaret Mitchell.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmmm...now c'mon, Palmerin. Don't you think calling the Zenda movie script (especially the '37 and the almost shot-for-shot Technicolor '52 remake) "absolute garbage" just because they(and like almost every film version's script of any novel ever made)  took liberties with the source material, is a bit of a "strong statement"?

 

Sorry, but while this new revelation of yours may now seemingly lessen your assessment of these films(I mean, you DID just call the script "absolute garage", right?!) I have to say I've always greatly enjoyed and have never had any problem with the general flow of these films nor the dialogue presented within them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmmm...now c'mon, Palmerin. Don't you think calling the Zenda movie script (especially the '37 and the almost shot-for-shot Technicolor '52 remake) "absolute garbage" just because they(and like almost every film version's script of any novel ever made)  took liberties with the source material, is a bit of a "strong statement"?

 

Sorry, but while this new revelation of yours may now seemingly lessen your assessment of these films(I mean, you DID just call the script "absolute garage", right?!) I have to say I've always greatly enjoyed and have never had any problem with the general flow of these films nor the dialogue presented within them.

 

I agree I think both versions are fine films (with a slight nod to the 37 one).     I kind of feel sorry for folks that let something like historical inaccuracies ruin their enjoyment of a movie.    Movies are for entertainment not a history lesson. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I read the Classics Illustrated version of The Prisoner of Zenda, I'll have you know, and loved it almost as much as the 1937 David O. Selznick production with its once-in-a-lifetime cast of close to every member of Rule Britannia in Hollywood. Can't say that I recall there being all that much difference in the story lines but even if there is, this John Cromwell directed classic still remains one of most enduring of all screen swashbucklers.

 

It's great fun to watch Ronald Colman literally beside himself as he plays both the Ruritanian king and his English cousin (the redoubtable Rudolph Rassendyll!) who stands in for the latter when he is kidnapped. Madeleine Carroll never looked more ethereal than as Princess Flavia, while Douglas Fairbanks Jr. brings flair and charisma to one of the most charming of all costume scoundrels, Rupert of Hentzau.

 

Raymond Massey as Black Michael is properly cold blooded, while Mary Astor is sweet and loyal as his mistress who, for some incomprehensible reason, loves the black hearted swine. Rounding out this marvelous cast are C. Aubrey Smith and David Niven as Colonel Sapt and Fritz, the king's loyal henchmen. This was a very early role in Niven's career and he is allowed to effectively bring some of his light hearted charm to the part.

 

Sir C. Aubrey was born to play his role of the gruff but loyal Sapt, having the opportunity to end the film with his gravelly voice uttering the classic line, "Goodbye, Englishman. You're the finest Elfberg of them all!"

 

Still don't quite know what an Elfberg is (family heritage, I suppose) but it sure sounds good.

 

prisoner-of-zenda-smith-niven-ronald-col

 

There is a story that during the making of this film Raymond Massey had a difficult time getting a feel for his character of Black Michael. He turned to Sir C. Aubrey at one point to ask him for some advice on the matter. Smith, reading the Times, put down the paper and turned up the power on his hearing aid.

 

After hearing Massey's lament he proclaimed, "My dear Ray, in my time I played every part in The Prisoner of Zenda except Princess Flavia. And I always had trouble with Black Michael!"

 

Following this stern non advice he picked up the Times again and turned off his hearing aid. Massey was on his own.

 

tumblr_mnip6y8lds1sr1ki0o5_500.gif

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I just finished re-watching the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Is the Universe a Simulation?

 

There was no mention of Oliver Cromwell, Jim Thorpe, and Bob Hope there either. Although, it's quite possible they do exist outside our simulation. If we're simulated. I mean...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I just finished re-watching the 2016 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Is the Universe a Simulation?

 

There was no mention of Oliver Cromwell, Jim Thorpe, and Bob Hope there either. Although, it's quite possible they do exist outside our simulation. If we're simulated. I mean...

The conversations on these boards are simulating at times.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Return to Zenda

 

Before POZ was a film it was a hit play. Perhaps the playwright simplified the story for stage presentation, and this structure was so accepted by the public that film producers kept it.

 

I think the '37 version is quite superior to the '52, aside from James Mason's Rupert. Granger is OK as the English visitor but cannot handle the King.

 

I have a copy of the novel from 1922 w/ photos from the current film version. Never read it though.

 

SPS2XPm.jpg

 

 

Zenda fans probably know about the spoof in the Great Race, but also check out George MacDonald's Fraser's Flashman novel Royal Flash, which is a pastiche/homage. It was indifferently filmed in 1975 with a miscast Malcolm McDowell, but the novel is a delightful entertainment. There's an amusing conceit at the end, as our hero Flashman tells his story to a journalist named Hawkins, which is the real name of Anthony Hope...

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

(I mean, you DID just call the script "absolute garage", right?!)

 

 

Is absolute garage a place where all motion ceases?

 

LOL

 

No, actually Rich, I believe an "absolute garage"(and thanks for pointing out my typo here) is an alternate name for where Jay Leno keeps his vast collection of classic cars and motorcycles.

 

;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

 

Return to Zenda

 

Before POZ was a film it was a hit play. Perhaps the playwright simplified the story for stage presentation, and this structure was so accepted by the public that film producers kept it.

 

I think the '37 version is quite superior to the '52, aside from James Mason's Rupert. Granger is OK as the English visitor but cannot handle the King.

 

 

Boy, I can't wait 'til Tom sees this one sentence that I highlighted. That is if I'm reading you correctly here, Doc.

 

Ya see Doc, whenever the topic of Zenda comes up around here, Tom's thoughts have always been that James Mason's casting and particularly his general lack of physicality(i.e., the final sword fight scene) is the "major flaw" in the '52 version, and he's expressed the thought many times that Doug Jr. in the '37 version was a superior Rupert of Hentzau.

 

(...and as much as I like Mason in just about anything he was ever in, I have to agree with our Canadian friend up there about this)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Get Smart spoofed POZ twice: first in an episode titled "The King Lives?", then again in the two-parter "To Sire, With Love", which features the credit "and Rupert of Rathskeller as himself" -- guest villain James Caan agreed to appear on condition his name not be used.

 

 

And lets give Don Adams his due in these episodes for his terrific Ronald Colman vocal impression.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Boy, I can't wait 'til Tom sees this one sentence that I highlighted. That is if I'm reading you correctly here, Doc.

 

Ya see Doc, whenever the topic of Zenda comes up around here, Tom's thoughts have always been that James Mason's casting and particularly his general lack of physicality(i.e., the final sword fight scene) is the "major flaw" in the '52 version, and he's expressed the thought many times that Doug Jr. in the '37 version was a superior Rupert of Hentzau.

 

(...and as much as I like Mason in just about anything he was ever in, I have to agree with our Canadian friend up there about this)

 

I've never considered DFJr to be a very physical screen presence, certainly not in the same league with his father. I've read that he often had to be doubled in duels, though I haven't studied his films closely enough to confirm that.

 

Jr is okay as Rupert, it's just that smirking condescension is something Mason does better than just about anyone. You could make the case that Mason acually hurts the '52, as he is such a stronger presence than Granger he sort of throws the film out of whack.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've never considered DFJr to be a very physical screen presence, certainly not in the same league with his father. I've read that he often had to be doubled in duels, though I haven't studied his films closely enough to confirm that.

 

Jr is okay as Rupert, it's just that smirking condescension is something Mason does better than just about anyone. You could make the case that Mason acually hurts the '52, as he is such a stronger presence than Granger he sort of throws the film out of whack.

 

There are precious few great swashbuckling films, one of the reasons for that being that there are precious few leading actors that have been able to carry them off convincingly. Douglas Fairbanks Jr. was clearly one of the better ones, though I agree that he lacked the same physicality as his old man.

 

But the one time that Doug Jr. was not only a swashbuckler but played a villain, as well, he brought a flair and insolence to the part that made the conniving, cynical Rupert a memorable characterization, quite possibly the finest of the actor's career. The duel of the '37 Zenda has always been my major disappointment in the film, since it's apparent that both Colman and Fairbanks are extensively doubled. Still it has some noteworthy shadow work of the duellists on walls (a movie cliche now), which may have influenced Curtiz's shooting of the Robin Hood duel that would be staged later that same year, in December.

 

ZendaDuel.jpg

 

As for Mason, while he's a fine actor and certainly captures Rupert's insolence and disdain admirably, physically he lacks Fairbanks' lithe form. Unlike the '37 Rupert, this one just doesn't look like a fencer. Nor does he have the flamboyance that Doug Jr. brought to the part, nor, really, quite the same smooth charm (though he is engaging, to a more than fair degree). As far as the duel was concerned, of course, Mason was hopeless. Stewart Granger knew how to handle a sword, but there isn't much of the real Mason to be seen in that climactic sequence, and it hurts the film.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your flippant quips show that none of you is familiar with the real novel; I urge you to take a week off to read it, and then meditate on how the real story should be filmed.

 

A purist, eh? Then I guess you really weren't thrilled with it when Blake Edwards and company did their own take on Hope's tale in The Great Race. I haven't read the novel but I assume there aren't a lot of pie fights in it.

 

pos04.jpg

 

maxresdefault.jpg

 

Doesn't it make you just a little bit nostalgic for when Ronnie Colman took a crack at it, Palmerin?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Your flippant quips show that none of you is familiar with the real novel; I urge you to take a week off to read it, and then meditate on how the real story should be filmed.

 

The point is that no one here (so far anyway),  agrees with your POV.     Movies stand on their own.   The fact a movie that is based on a book doesn't mean that the movie is garbage,  per se, because it deviates from the book.   Again,  movies stand on their own.

 

Your assuming that a movie version that was faithful to the book would be a better movie than one that wasn't faithful to the book, just because the former was faithful to the book.     

 

Sorry but that is a myth.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The point is that no one here (so far anyway),  agrees with your POV.     Movies stand on their own.   The fact a movie that is based on a book doesn't mean that the movie is garbage,  per se, because it deviates from the book.   Again,  movies stand on their own.

 

Your assuming that a movie version that was faithful to the book would be a better movie than one that wasn't faithful to the book, just because the former was faithful to the book.     

 

Sorry but that is a myth.

Read GONE WITH THE WIND to find out for yourself how Cukor, Fleming and company were faithful to Mitchell's original story.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Read GONE WITH THE WIND to find out for yourself how Cukor, Fleming and company were faithful to Mitchell's original story.

 

You still don't get it.    One can't site GWTW as an example,  since there is NOT another version of GWTW that was NOT faithful to the original story.     

 

In addition GWTW is 221 minutes and I'm sure there were some scenes and characters that were left out.    It is impossible for a film to be faithful to a book in 100 or so minutes.

 

NO ONE said that a movie that IS faithful is absolute garbage because it WAS faithful.      

 

But you imply a movies that is NOT faithful is absolute garbage just because it was NOT faithful.

 

THAT is where you get it wrong.

Edited by jamesjazzguitar
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The 1922 version of Zenda occasionally comes on TCM. It's a first rate, handsomely mounted production. Lewis Stone may be a little stiff as a costume hero, but Ramon Novarro became a star with his Rupert of Hentzau portrayal, and he's still fun to watch in it.

 

prisoner-of-zenda-24.jpg

 

Rupert meets a somewhat different ending in this film from the 1937 and 1952 versions.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

© 2023 Turner Classic Movies Inc. A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...