Great Characters Wiki

Rudolf Rassendyll in the main protagonist of the 1894 novel The Prisoner of Zenda and its various film adaptations. He's King Rudolf's identical cousin who met up with him when going to travel to a fishing spot and has to impersonate Rudolf when he's poisoned by his half-brother and couldn't attend his coronation.

In the 1937 film adaptation he's portrayed by Ronald Colman who also portrayed his cousin in the same film.

Why He Rocks

  1. In the film adaptation, Colman does a near-perfect performance as both the English visitor and his cousin, to the point where he's very memorable. He also manages to bring just the right touches of humor in these, in such small moments such as almost forgetting his lines, or just showing the way he's more than a little taken aback by all the attention he is receiving. It's subtle, but never takes away from the main story.
  2. Even before becoming a king-in-place, he's innocent and carefree, therefore he is fond of outings, excursions and adventures. But than as he begins playing the part of the king of Ruritania, he starts to become very serious and sensible.
  3. Even though he's a bit naïve initially, he's keenly aware of his surroundings and very smart.
  4. Speaking of Rudolf Rassendyll as king, during his stand in, he's shown to be not only an excellent stand-in, but also some ways a better king than Rudolf Elphberg V would've been. For example:
    1. He's a loyal and devoted lover to Flavia. After his coronation, when Rassendyll was riding in his coach with his wife-to-be Flavia, he takes note of how much he had neglected her and respects her wishes, compliments her, and gives her plenty of genuine love and respect. Contrast this to Elphberg V who used call Flavia a "toe-headed little scarecrow" and constantly bully, belittle or downright ignore her. Flavia even takes note on he seemed like a completely different person.
    2. He comes to Ruritania as a guest to attend the king's coronation ceremony, but the political events of the Country makes him the king of Ruritania. During his period, he shows his talents, faces problems very bravely and at last achieves his sacred aim of getting Rudolf Elphberg released, who's made a prisoner at Zenda. He plays his role so successfully and seriously that no body knows the truth. It's only in the end where Princess Flavia is told the whole story by Fritz when Rassendyll gets wounded and falls unconscious.
  5. Even when you take out the factors of him being king, he's a sincere, loyal and unselfish companion in general. He never falls for the temptations of being the ruler of a county, or abuses his king position. He doesn't wish to remain king for ever. Although, he is anxious to release the king and handover control of Ruritania as soon as possible. He even manages the even more awkward situation when the thought of marriage with his cousin Flavia arises after the coronation ceremony. In connection with this he finds himself in a very critical situation, which he handles gracefully, maintaining the bond of friendship and his dignity.
  6. During the third act, he gets to show off his planning skills with the break-in to Michael's place and his fighting and swashbuckling, sword fighting skills with Count Rupert.