Prisoner of Zenda, The (1937)

The Prisoner of Zenda (1937), directed by John Cromwell.

I feel a Ronald Colman marathon coming on. In my earliest movie memories he is a mythic figure from the old films, seemingly in a category by himself: distinguished, witty, but with touches of pain and sadness. The silent film actor who became one of the great voices of the century.

This is the now familiar story of the distant relation and look-alike to a monarch who must become king for a day -- but who finds himself in the role for quite a bit longer.

It's a good-looking 1930s action picture, although the swashbuckling doesn't get into gear until the last segment. Terrifically romantic. The heroes are brave and noble, the villains brave and dastardly. All crave the struggle, the chance to fight and triumph.

Many familiar faces:

Alfred Newman score and James Wong Howe photography.