Sunday, October 02, 2016

"The Prisoner of Zenda" (1952) was the first movie I saw

What was the very first movie I ever went to?

To the best of my recollection, it’s the 1952 technicolor “The Prisoner of Zenda”, based on an 1894 novel by Anthony Hope (English – book report stuff), directed by Richard Thorpe, starring Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr, Robert Douglas, and  James Mason, same screenplay as the 1937 BW verison of John Cromwell.  I went with my parents to the old Glebe Theater near Lee Highway in Arlington. The same music by Alfred Newman was used.

The swashbuckling plot would seem artificial to today’s movie goers.  It involves a future king (in a fictitious Balkan country) with a distant relative who looks like him, and a rival for the throne of a fictitious country, who has to marry correctly to challenge the would be king. After the relative subs for him, the king is kidnapped.

I doubt I would have followed the plot very well at nine years old.  But the film demonstrates the old fashioned idea of escapist entertainment, where writers have to go way outside of themselves.

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