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

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Lord Olivier and La Monroe
THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL (1957). Director: Laurence Olivier.

"We are not dealing with an adult but an unruly child."

On the eve of the coronation of the new British King in 1911 London, the Grand Ducal Highness of the Balkan nation of Carpatha, AKA Charles (Laurence Olivier), invites a pretty American showgirl named Elsie (Marilyn Monroe) to supper at the Carpathian embassy. Alas, the Grand Duke doesn't realize that Elsie is a lot smarter than she looks -- and not quite as "easy" as he hopes. During the night and the following day, the two argue and banter, and Elsie manages to wend her way into Carpathian politics and  more via the Duke's son Nicky (Jeremy Spenser), soon to be king, and the prickly if lovable Queen Dowager (Sybil Thorndike). The cast in this entertaining if overlong comedy, including Jean Kent as an actress friend of Charles and Richard Wattis as Northbrook, a liaison, is uniformly excellent. Olivier is fine as the rather stuffy if amorous duke, and Monroe is natural, unaffected and marvelous -- luminescent, in fact -- as Elsie. I'm not the first to think that she sort of out-acts Olivier at times, but both are splendid. The ending is a bit strange, but this is a colorful, unusual picture.

Verdict: The High and the Horny. ***.

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