In the masterpiece filled filmography of Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier, it's surely a surprise that "The Prince in the Showgirl" is forgettable. Though colorfully shot and bursting with elaborate sets and period detail, "The Prince in the Showgirl" lacks actual substance, making it rather dull instead of the fluffy romantic comedy it was hoping to be.
What's more interesting than "The Prince in the Showgirl" is what happened behind the scenes. Monroe and Olivier feuded throughout filming, as Olivier grew impatient due to Monroe's constant lateness and dependence on her acting coach. The in-depth look of the events was seen in the acclaimed "My Week with Marilyn," which you'll definitely want to see after seeing "The Prince and the Showgirl," since the latter isn't too great.
Set in 1911, the film takes place in London, where the Grand Duke Charles (Olivier) is stopping by to see the coronation of King George V. He stops by the West End revue to see a show, and meets ditzy showgirl Elsie Marina (Monroe), and something about her (her looks, maybe?) intrigues him.
He invites her over to his embassy for dinner, and it doesn't go well. So she gets drunk and ends up falling asleep. When she wakes up, things change from bad to good: she falls in love with the Duke, gets a taste of royalty, and patches up a feud between him and his son. But with their relationship last?
Almost everything is wrong with "The Prince and the Showgirl" -- nothing is flat-out awful and you certainly can't blame the acting, but everything on display just feels wrong. The dialogue is often flat, and many scenes just aren't needed. Monroe and Olivier are supposed to be a romantic couple, but they just aren't believable together. A gruff Hungarian prince in his '50s courting a young, beautiful showgirl? It's a strange idea no matter how you look at it, and it doesn't work. Olivier's acting is somewhat stilted, most likely because he was having such a tumultuous time with both filming and his personal life.
Monroe, on the other hand, is perfect. It's surprising to know that she was declining behind the scenes, because she's a joy to watch here. In truth, she's the only reason to see this film at all. Her performance is always cheerful, funny, and sexy, and is the epitome of what you want to see Marilyn do in a Marilyn Monroe film. Her comedic timing, as usual, is flawless; and yet, she's the only thing to truly praise about the film.
It's disappointing to think that "The Prince and the Showgirl" is a failure, because it could have been a heck of a lot different. It's only worth watching for the die-hard Monroe fans.