Friday, October 08, 2010

Film review – "Prisoner of Zenda" (1952) ***1/2

This version of the famous swashbuckler often gets pooh-poohed because it was a shot-for-shot remake of the 1937 David O Selznick film (MGM was remake crazy in the 1950s), but I really enjoyed it. The story is great (the adaptation was very good), and this has the advantage of being in colour, with terrific sets and nice action.
Stewart Granger doesn't have the reputation as an actor that Ronald Colman does, but I thought he was good; he doesn't smell of old school tie, honour and sacrifice like Colman but he's a more of a believable action man, with a darker side to his persona (Colman could never have played Rupert of Hentzau, but Granger could have).
Deborah Kerr is pretty in a role which doesn't require much more than that; James Mason (Rupert) and Robert Douglas (Michael) are strong villains, though I wasn't wild about Louis Calhern as Sapt or Robert Coote as Fritz (C Aubrey Smith and David Niven were better); Mary Astor was also better than Jane Greer. Still, lots of fun and I'm not surprised it made money.

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