While the weak and drunken King Rudolph of Ruritania awaits his coronation, he is drugged by his brother, Black Michael, who is preparing a coup d'etat. Michael's plans are thwarted by the substitution at Rudolph's coronation of Rassendyll, an Englishman who is the King's exact double.
This epic-scale silent adaptation of the popular novel by Anthony Hope concerns Rudolph (Lewis S. Stone), a member of the royal family of Ruritania who is about to be crowned King. However, his conniving and ill-tempered brother has designs on the throne, and he drugs his sibling shortly before his coronation. Rudolph's allies find a British tourist who bears a striking resemblance to the would-be king, Rudolph Rassendyll (also played by Stone). They persuade the visitor to pose as Rudolph during the coronation to prevent the brother from usurping the crown. When the brother's henchmen discover that the Englishman is posing as Rudolph, they lock the real monarch away in a dungeon and attempt to expose the false king before he can be given the crown. THE PRISONER OF ZENDA was directed by Rex Ingram, one of the most important directors of the American silent cinema, and co-starred Alice Terry as Princess Flavia and Robert Edeson as Colonel Sapt. The story was previously filmed in 1915, and would enjoy three more remakes during the sound era.
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