Picks and Pans Review: The Prisoner of Zenda

updated 07/09/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/09/1979 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Anthony Hope wrote the novel in 1894 and its cinematic possibilities were exploited as early as 1913. Now, in the fifth film version, it has turned to spoof. The story is a classic (and hackneyed) confusion-of-identity piece. When the mad King of Ruritania (cameoed by Peter Sellers) falls from his balloon into a well, his foppish son Rudi (Sellers again) inherits the throne. Rudi's brother (Jeremy Kemp) plots to seize the crown, but loyalists discover a London cabby lookalike for Rudi (guess who—no, it isn't Britt Ekland). The predictable prince-and-pauper misidentity is lightened by some bawdy slapstick and another history-making accent from Sellers as Rudi. The movie lags at times, though Sellers' real-life fourth wife, Lynne Frederick, is gorgeous as Princess Flavia. And seeing Sellers in something other than a Pink Panther picture is true comic relief. (PG)

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