In 1970, Richard Lester had planned to make a film of "Flashman", the first of George Macdonald Fraser's novels, from a screenplay by Charles Wood and Frank Muir and with John Alderton in the title role. Because of expense, it was canceled with only days to go before the start of shooting. Half a decade later, having collaborated with Fraser on his two "Musketeers" films with huge success, Lester tried to reactivate the project, but found it easier to set up a film of Fraser's second novel, "Royal Flash", perhaps because the story is a parody of "The Prisoner Of Zenda", which had been filmed several times with great popularity. Even so, United Artists went cold on the idea shortly before filming was due to begin, but this time Lester was able successfully to transfer the project to Twentieth Century Fox. However, the film proved a critical and box-office failure, and was cut from a running time of 118 minutes to 96 minutes for general release in Britain (which accounts for certain well-known actors either not appearing or doing so only very briefly).