The Prisoner of Zenda

Synopsis: English trout fisher Rudolf Rassendyll is about the only tourist not coming for the coronation of Central-European King Rudolf V at Strelsau, but happens to be a distant relative and is approached on account of their canning resemblance to stand in for the drunken king, in order to prevent his envious half-brother Michael, who arranged spiking his wine to seize the throne when the reputedly less then dutiful Rudolf stays away. The ceremony goes well, and he gets acquainted with the charming royal bride, related princess Flavia, but afterward the king is found to be abducted; he must continue the charade and once the hiding place, the castle of Zenda, is found is involved in the fight between political parties for control over Rudolf V, his throne and his bride, for which a formidable third candidate, Michael's disloyal co-conspirator Rupert of Hentzau, was waiting in the curtains.
Genre: Adventure
Director(s): Richard Thorpe
Production: MGM
96 min

Passengers will please to descend.

- Papers!

- Flowers.

- Passengers will please to descend.

- Papers from all parts of Europe!

- This way for passport examination, please.

- Paper, mister?

- This way for passport examination.

- Special rates for the coronation.

Special high rates.

"Rudolf Rassendyll, British subject.

Purpose of visit, pleasure."

- What hotel in Strelsau, Mr. Rassendyll?

- I hadn't thought about it.

You better think about it,

if you don't wanna sleep in the park.

In that case, I won't go to Strelsau

until after the coronation.

I've come to your country

for a rest...

...with the intention of

going fishing for trout.

I beg your pardon,

have I said anything I shouldn't?

I know my clothes

are a little conservative...

...but we English always dress as if

we're going to a funeral when on a holiday.

Everything is quite in order.

Thank you for making me feel

so much at home.

- I'll take these. Thanks.

- But your train's going.

I'm going to Strelsau on foot

in my own good time.

- But you'll miss the coronation, sir.

- I make a point of missing coronations.

I hope your trout take as much

interest in me as you do.

I shan't be able

to land them fast enough.

It's a trick of the devil.

Shave him, and he'd be the king.

May I ask your name, sir?

Well, since you've taken the first step

in the acquaintance, gentlemen...

...perhaps you'd give me a lead

in the matter of names.

Well, certainly. This is Colonel Zapt,

and I am called Fritz von Tarlenheim.

We are both in the service

of His Majesty the king.

I'm Rudolf Rassendyll.

I'm here on holiday from England.

I was recently in the service

of Her Majesty the queen.

- Rassendyll?

- How do you do.

- How do you do.

- Rassendyll.

Of course. By heaven,

your face betrays you, sir.

- You know his history, I believe.

- Well, I had heard a rumor or two.

I was hoping that our skeleton

was safe at home in our family cupboard.

Some skeletons

are prodigious travelers, sir.

- Fritz, where are you?

- Here, Your Majesty.

Confound it, I thought

you'd lost yourselves again.

- Who is this gentleman?

- A distant relative of yours, Your Majesty.

Distant? He seems too close for comfort.

That is something for which

you cannot entirely blame me.

Oh, then who shall I blame?

With Your Majesty's permission, I

would suggest the blame lies equally...

...between your

great-great-great-grandfather Rudolf...

...and my

great-great-great-grandmother Amelia.

- I beg your pardon.

- He's right, Your Majesty.

- The man is a Rassendyll from England.

- Rassendyll? England?

Yes, Your Majesty.

Ever since Amelia's time...

...the Elphberg face has cropped out

on one of us every now and then.

Well met, cousin!

Forgive me

if I seemed a little slow...

...but it's a bit early in the day to

see double, even for me. Eh, Zapt?

- What are you doing here, cousin?

- I must admit to being guilty...

...of the same offense

as our mutual ancestor, Your Majesty.

- And what was that?

- Fishing in forbidden waters.

That's very funny. That's funny.

The man has wit.

You must come

to my coronation tomorrow.

I'd give a thousand crowns

for the sight of brother Michael's face...

...when he sees the pair of us.

You shall stay at my hunting lodge.

Tonight, we shall dine you royally.

Our ancestors laid down some good wine

here in the lodge, cousin. Fritz.

They little thought that a bottle or two

was laid down for you.

All in the family. All in the family.

- Cousin Rudolf, I propose a toast.

- Hear, hear.

Another toast.

A toast to...

- Have we anybody left?

- Your brother, Michael, perhaps?

We drink to Michael in vinegar,

my friend, not in good wine.

I'll tell you a secret

about my brother Michael.

- My brother Michael does not love me.

- No?

No. But he loves my shoes.

He feels that he should be in my shoes,

and I should be in his.

No. No toast for Michael.

We'll drink instead to Cousin Flavia.

Soon to be my bride and queen.

Hear, hear.

Poor Flavia. See never had a chance

to choose anybody else.

Well, for that matter, neither did I.

It's a pity

you can't meet the princess.

At least I'm told it's a pity.

I haven't seen her for years.

She and I didn't get on very well then.

Still let's hope we shall now.

I sincerely hope so, Your Majesty,

if you're going to marry her.

They tell me she's far too good for me.

I can well believe it.

You know what they say about me,

don't you? I drink too much.

I imagine you're well able to take care

of yourself on that score, Your Majesty.

Oh, I've done my fair share of drinking

in my day. I'd be the last to deny it.

But tomorrow... the cathedral...

...when my people place the crown upon

my head and proclaim me their king...

...I shall be their king

for the rest of my life.

But tonight...

Tonight, I drink with my friends.

With my friend.

You know, Rassendyll, I like you.

You're a good fellow.

Oh, you're English,

but you're a good fellow.

I wanna drink a toast to you.

Confound it, where's all the wine gone to?

Josef! Josef!

A bottle of the '68. Josef!

Your Majesty, it is my duty to remind you

once more of tomorrow.

- What, again?

- Yes, again.

Well, then, you've reminded me.

Sit down, have a drink.

- You have a duty, Your Majesty.

- Duty, duty. On my last night of freedom?

I question your freedom

to drink yourself into a condition... which you'll not be fit

to be crowned.

I question your right

to address me in that manner.

- I served your father in...

- I question your right to mention my father.

Your father honored his obligations

to the crown.

Are you suggesting that I do not?

Your father never thought of himself,

or of his own pleasure.

Your father never forgot he was a king.

By your leave, Your Majesty.

Zapt? Zapt?

What are you doing here?

The 1868, Your Majesty.

You sent for it.

Oh, did I?

- Josef.

- Yes, Your Majesty?

I've had too much to drink.

- You'd better take it back.

- Yes, Your Majesty.

No, wait, wait, we have a guest.

Excellent fellow, Josef. English.

Excellent fellow, Josef,

but he can't drink.

I can drink. I'm the king.

You better go to bed, Josef.

- Good night, Your Majesty.

- Good night.

Sleep well.

Everybody, sleep well.

Everybody sleeps but the king.



- I don't think much of your joke, sir!

- You think it's a joke, do you?

This is no joke, Englishman.

That was quite an evening, wasn't it?

- What happened?

- Josef found him lying here this morning.

You didn't drink

any of this last bottle?

- Not that I know of, no.

- I think you'd know if you had.

- Why? Was it drugged?

- It was.

- Have you sent for a doctor?

- There's none within 10 miles.

A thousand doctors wouldn't take him

to Strelsau. I know the look of it.

He'll not stir for six or seven hours.

But how? Why? Who?

Who else but Michael?

- Michael? His own brother?

- His half brother.

Michael's mother wasn't

exactly acceptable in court circles.

Rate this script:0.0 / 0 votes

John L. Balderston

John L. Balderston (October 22, 1889, in Philadelphia – March 8, 1954, in Los Angeles) was an American playwright and screenwriter best known for his horror and fantasy scripts. He wrote the plays Berkley Square and Dracula. more…

All John L. Balderston scripts | John L. Balderston Scripts

0 fans

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:



    Translate and read this script in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


    "The Prisoner of Zenda" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 24 Jul 2024. <>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!

    Watch the movie trailer

    The Prisoner of Zenda


    The Studio:

    ScreenWriting Tool

    Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.


    Are you a screenwriting master?

    Who played the character "Ellen Ripley" in "Alien"?
    A Sigourney Weaver
    B Jodie Foster
    C Linda Hamilton
    D Jamie Lee Curtis