The Prisoner of Zenda

Screening and Presentation by
Craig Barron & Ben Burtt
Presented by the Science and Technology Council of the
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
Sunday, June 13, 7:00
Craig Barron, Oscar®-winning visual effects supervisor and Academy governor, and Ben Burtt, Oscar-winning sound designer, will introduce a rare screening of the 1937 adventure-romance The Prisoner of Zenda and conduct a wide-ranging presentation about its groundbreaking photographic and sound effects.

Ronald Colman stars in a dual role, as the soon-to-be-crowned King of Ruritania, abducted by his rival Black Michael (Raymond Massey), and as his distant cousin Rudolf, who must impersonate him to save the monarchy. Madeleine Carroll plays Rudolf's royal love interest, and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. steals scenes as the unforgettable villain Rupert of Hentzau. Mary Astor and David Niven are also featured.

From a technical perspective, The Prisoner of Zenda stands out as being one of the first Hollywood sound films to successfully enable one actor (Colman) to appear as two different characters within the same shot, using in-camera split-screens and an audio playback system. The presentation will include seldom-seen camera tests from the personal collection of visual effects cameraman Clarence Slifter that show how several of the film's illusions were created.

As a highlight, Barron and Burtt will present rare, behind-the-scenes color footage shot by Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., courtesy of the Academy Film Archive's Home Movie Collection, including scenes of cinematographer James Wong Howe and his crew rehearsing swordfights with Fairbanks. In addition, Burtt will demonstrate how the sound effects from the film's famous swordfights were achieved.

Director: John Cromwell. Producer: David O. Selznick. Screenplay: John L. Balderston. Adaptation: Wells Root. Based on the novel by Anthony Hope and the play by Edward E. Rose. Cinematography: James Wong Howe. Special Effects: Jack Cosgrove. Sound: Oscar Lagerstrom. Selznick International Pictures; United Artists. 1937. Film 101 min. plus presentation.

35mm Print from the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Academy Award nominee®: Art Direction (Lyle Wheeler), Music " Scoring (Selznick International Pictures Music Department, Alfred Newman, musical director)

Playing at the Rafael Film Center
Jun 13 2010
Christopher B. Smith Rafael Film Center
1118 Fourth Street, San Rafael CA 94901
T 415 454 1222 E rafaeltheater@cafilm.org