Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Prisoner of Zenda (1979)

Director: Richard Quine

Starring: Peter Sellers, Lynne Frederick, Lionel Jeffries, Elke Sommer, Gregory Sierra, Jeremy Kemp, Catherine Schell, John Laurie

More info: IMDb

Plot: Swashbuckler meets slapstick in this hilarious take on Anthony Hope's classic tale, which stars the inimitable Peter Sellers in the dual roles of the would-be king of Ruritania and the cockney cabbie who impersonates him and falls for his fiancée.

My rating: 4/10

Will I watch it again? Double no.

I've always like Peter Sellers but most of his output from the 60s and 70s was OK at best which is a shame considering how abundantly talented he was. This picture didn't have a single laugh for me. NOT ONE! The only thing I really enjoyed was Sellers's performance of the lower class of the two lookalikes, Syd Frewin. I loved that role. It gave him some emotional weight to get behind. You really feel for the guy. As for everyone else, they're all one dimensional and by the numbers. Henry Mancini's score is appropriate but it sounded like there wasn't a budget for a larger orchestra. It was thin and, as a result, it sounded cheap. Seller had only two pictures left before his death the next year - the excellent BEING THERE and the sub par THE FIENDISH PLOT OF DR. FU MANCHU.

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