The Prisoner of Zenda (1922)

Genres - Adventure  |   Sub-Genres - Costume Adventure, Swashbuckler  |   Run Time - 110 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Richard Gilliam

The Prisoner of Zenda is remembered for its rich, lush production values, and the efficient work of director Rex Ingram. Among the silent era's most handsome motion pictures, this was the third and best filming of Anthony Hope's popular novel within a ten year period. Ramon Novarro, playing the villainous Count Rupert, gets top billing over the dual-role hero Lewis Stone and leading lady Alice Terry. All give strong performances, particularly Terry, who was married at the time to Ingram. The film's major flaw is a lack of visual style. Nonetheless, the strength of the story and quality of production more than carry the film. Despite several popular, big box-office sound-era versions of The Prisoner of Zenda, Hope's sequel novel, Rupert of Hentzau, has been filmed only twice, most recently as the follow-up to this 1922 effort. Both sequels were considerably less successful than the original efforts.