Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


THE SWAN (1956). Director: Charles Vidor.

"[Like a swan] be a bird but never fly. Know one song but never sing it, until the moment of her death. And so it must be for you, Alexandra. Head held high, cool indifference to the staring crowds among the banks, and the song, never."

"[Albert] spends more time with the tutor than he does with Alexandra."

Beatrix (Jessie Royce Landis) has spent her whole life preparing for the marriage of her daughter, Princess Alexandra (Grace Kelly), to her cousin, the Crown Prince Albert (Alec Guinness). When he shows up at their estate, however, Beatrix and her relatives are appalled by his behavior, and worse, he hardly pays the shy Alexandra any attention [some have theorized that Albert is gay]. Beatrix hits upon the idea of inviting her young sons' tutor, Nicholas (Louis Jourdan), to the ball, with the intention of making Albert jealous. This plan seems to backfire when Nicholas declares his true feelings for the princess ... The Swan, frankly, is a highly-imperfect film -- a bit slow, neither funny nor dramatic enough until the ending -- but the acting can not be faulted. Kelly [Rear Window] offers a lovely lead performance as the princess; Guinness scores as Albert, who is resigned to a life he seems not to aspire to; Landis and Estelle Winwood (as her mother) are fine as the elder ladies of the court; Brian Aherne [The Locket] is excellent as Landis' brother, who resigned from royal life to become a monk; and Agnes Moorehead [Dark Passage] makes her mark, as usual, as the termagant mother of Albert. Jourdan is good, but he, perhaps, underplays too much during some of his romantic sequences, and the movie, as a whole, takes much too long to create any real conflict. But then there's that wonderful, bittersweet -- in fact, downright depressing -- conclusion. It's ironic that Kelly made just one more movie before becoming a princess in real life, also with a bittersweet conclusion, as she wanted to make a comeback (with Hitchcock) but was not allowed to, and apparently found herself quite disillusioned with life in the palace.

Verdict: The acting makes the movie. ***.


angelman66 said...

This is indeed a beautifully made film, and Kelly and Jourdan are gorgeous to look at. Also wonderful turns by some of my favorite character actresses - Jessie Royce Landis (the chic mom from all those Hitchcock films), Estelle Winwood, Agnes Moorehead and the brilliant Sir Alec.

Oh, how I wish Grace had made a few more films...she really was wonderful in everything. Never a bad personal favorite is her final film, she was such a delicious Tracy Lord in High Society...made that role her own and even sang with her ex-lover Bing!!

Thanks for the memories, Bill!! Keep em comin'!!

William said...

Grace and Bing -- how disillusioning, LOL!

Seriously I also liked Kelly very much, especially in Rear Window, and I've got to see High Society again as it's been quite awhile.

As always, many thanks for your nice comments. I'm looking forward to your next post.