Prisoner of Zenda, The (1952)

The Prisoner of Zenda (1952), directed by Richard Thorpe.

This remake of The Prisoner of Zenda (1937) has large boots to fill. Even with Technicolor and stars I revere -- Deborah Kerr and James Mason -- it can't keep up with the original. Not bad, but not great. If they'd waited another couple of years it might have been a widescreen spectacle.

I have nothing against Stewart Granger and they make good use of his swashbuckling prowess to give an extended sword-fighting sequence at the climax, but there is just no substitute for Ronald Colman. His wry intelligence and sad soulful depth: that doesn't come along in every generation.

They use the same Alfred Newman score and the same shooting script as the original and the camera angles and scene setups are often very similar. Which do you like better:

Deborah Kerr has such a strong personality that it is hard to believe her when she is overwhelmed by love or passion.

James Mason's haircut is distracting; it looks like the Prussian style from The Desert Fox: The Story of Rommel (1951). He can play the charming psycho.

It is startling to see Jane Greer in costume; we are used to her modern look in Out of the Past (1947) and The Big Steal (1949).

Available on DVD, both films on one disc.