Anthony Hope’s 1894 novel, The Prisoner Of Zenda, gave rise to a craze for a new sub-genre of romance novels – the “Ruritanian romance” – so called after the fictional European country in which the titular “prisoner” is found. The novel’s plot, in which a visitor from England travels to a fictional European nation and, via an unbelievably convenient coincidence, becomes it’s king, was so popular that it’s echoes were felt well into the 20th century.
The 1933 Marx Brothers film, Duck Soup, takes it’s plot from the Ruritanian romances (it’s set in the country of “Freedonia”), Robert A. Heinlein’s 1956 novel, Double Star, borrows the Zenda plot and takes it to Mars, and the 1988 movie Richard Dreyfuss comedy, Moon Over Parador, places an actor in the role and places the action in a fictional South American country.
This brings us to one of my favourite OTR style radio shows – The CBS Radio Mystery Theater, which had a 1977 adaptation of The Prisoner Of Zenda – this shouldn’t have surprised me as CBSRMT had an adaptation for practically everything (the show ran 1,399 episodes). While their version gives short shrift to many of the novel’s subtleties the 46 minute running time allows for an entertaining, if break-neck, presentation of the story’s highlights.
CBSRMT #0639 – The Prisoner Of Zenda
By Robert Newman; Adapted from the novel by Anthony Hope; Performed by a full cast
1 |MP3| – Approx. 46 Minutes [RADIO DRAMA]
Brodcaster: CBS Radio
Broadcast: April 22, 1977
The coronation of a new king is disrupted when the king’s brother drugs him. A distant relative who closely resembles the king steps in to take his place at the coronation.
Posted by Jesse Willis