Friday, 13 April 2012

Review: The Prince and the Showgirl

The Prince and the Showgirl (1957)

It's 1911 and while in London to attend the coronation of George V, the Prince-Regent of Carpathia, decides on a bit of relaxation.  After attending  a show, he invites Elise Marina, one of the cast, to the embassy for a late supper.  What starts out as a fairly routine seduction ends up as a three day whirlwind of politics, infuriation and minor farce that ends in actual romance.

This film has passed into legend largely because this was a potential breakout role for Marilyn Monroe that ended in a nightmarish production that made Laurence Olivier give up film directing because of the horrors he went through with his costar.  That's a shame because none of the acrimony and hair pulling shows on the screen and the result is a fluffy meringue of a romantic comedy that highlights Monroe's talents as a light comedic actress.  Olivier gives her an indulgent amount of screen time and manages to pull a remarkable performance out of her even when she isn't speaking. There's even a wonderful sight gag as a hungover Monroe does a bump and grind stagger into a conference wearing a blanket in search of a water carafe.

This isn't a great film, but it's an enjoyable way to pass the time with marvelous work by the likes of Dame Sybil Thorndyke and Richard Wattis as well as Olivier as the repressed, yet potentially passionate Prince.  the script by Terrance Rattigan sparkles and the only real fly in the ointment is the coronation sequence that feels as if the film has been hijacked by a completely different director.

My advice, forget the history and just enjoy the show.

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