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Ronald Colman was perfectly cast in the dual role of holidaying Englishman Rudolf Rassendyll who replaces his abducted double, King Rudolph of Ruritania, in order to prevent the throne from being usurped. The other leading roles were largely made up from Hollywood's English colony. Madeleine Carroll took the female lead, "honorary Englishman" Douglas Fairbank Jr was Rupert of Hentzau and excelled as the scheming Black Michael and there were impressive contributions from C Aubrey Smith, Mary Astor and David Niven who received his role (which was then built up) through Colman's intervention with Selznick.
"A splendid schoolboy adventure story is perfectly transferred to the screen in this exhilarating swashbuckler, one of the most entertaining films to come out of Hollywood", wrote Leslie Halliwell in his Film Guide. The film was a huge success and, said The New York Times, "With all its reliance on theatrical tricks, the film has no difficulty in charming with its romance, exciting with its highly-coloured picture of intrigue, and satisfying the eye with its military spectacle...very good".