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The following written prologue appears at the end of the opening credits: "Toward the close of the last century, when history still wore a rose, and politics had not yet outgrown the waltz, a great royal scandal was whispered in the anterooms of Europe. However true it was, any resemblance in The Prisoner of Zenda to heroes, villains or heroines, living or dead, is a coincidence not intended..." The 1952 production of The Prisoner of Zenda used the same shooting script as the 1937 David O. Selznick film directed by John Cromwell and starring Ronald Colman and Madeleine Carroll (See AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40). Slight variations in the screenplay were added by Noel Langley. In addition to the dialogue, the film's score, composed by Alfred Newman for the 1937 version, was also used for the 1952 production. A comparison of the two films reveals that settings and camera angles, in most cases, are the same.
According to a August 13, 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item, M-G-M was to pay Selznick $225,000 for the remake rights to Anthony Hope's novel and Edward E. Rose's play, upon which the film was based. Various 1952 pre-production Hollywood Reporter news items noted that actresses Jean Simmons, who was married to Stewart Granger at the time of production, and Eleanor Parker were considered for the role of "Princess Flavia." A February 23, 1952 Los Angeles Examiner article noted that Richard Greene was to have portrayed "Rupert of Hentzau" but had a scheduling conflict with another film, The Black Castle. Other Hollywood Reporter news items include Ramsay Hill and Steve Lawrence in the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been confirmed.
In 1999, blacklisted writer Donald Ogden Stewart, who was credited with additional dialogue on the 1937 production, was given a restored credit for the 1952 film. Actor Lewis Stone, who had a small role in the 1952 production as "The Cardinal," portrayed the dual-role lead in the 1922 Metro production directed by Rex Ingram and co-starring Alice Terry (See AFI catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30). Other screen adaptations of the story include a 1913 Famous Players Film Co. picture directed by Edwin S. Porter and starring James K. Hackett and Beatrice Beckley (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ) and a Universal-produced 1979 comic version of the story directed by Richard Quine and starring Peter Sellers and his wife, Lynne Frederick.