The Prince and the Showgirl Reviews
I heard about Laurence Olivier's The Prince and the Showgirl through browsing his filmography, and my desire to watch it came from seeing Simon Curtis' 2011 film, My Week With Marilyn. My expectations for this film were not all that high, given the average ratings that this film has received, and I rarely see it stand alongside the most prestigious films by the actress, Marilyn Monroe. Now that I have seen it, my expectations were matched, giving us a story that is paced too slowly and filled with political aspects that barely elevates the film, making it more convoluted and thematically deep than it should be, but it is carried by the strong performances from its cast and certain comedic elements that had me laughing a couple of times. I doubt this film would elevate my perception of it through subsequent viewing, but I also doubt my feelings towards it would be worse. I recommend giving this film a watch, simply to see the unlikely pairing of Monroe and Olivier; then pair this with Curtis' film, to gain an insight on how the film was made.
It is a project tailor-made for Ms. Monroe and she was in her pinnacle at then, while most certainly Sir Laurence Olivier came on board as the leading man to reprise his role from the original play (Leigh was brushed aside due to her age, so Monroe was cast instead, it was is really a man man man's world), however it is rather an odd choice for him to monopolise the director chair since it is absolutely not his wheelhouse, a romantic comedy must be a tint two-bit for his Shakespearean standard. Maybe his real intent was never on the film but the red-hot sexpot, Marilyn Monroe.
Regarding the personal life, it was not a placid phase for Marilyn either (check MY WEEK WITH MARILYN for a deep look), but she definitely goes to all lengths to invigorate her character, Elsie, she is the breezy messenger, the emblem of foolproof love, with her buxom curves and halfwitted ingénue persona, one might not say she is the one-of-a-kind type of genius, but certainly she is the fortuitous making of her era, an icon can not be emulated in our times. Sir Olivier, wallows in his customary tactics, being deadpan serious in a condescending form, and genteelly articulating the banal dialogue as if he means it, we can endure the mincing and posturing of Monroe, but for him, it totally jars with the overall tonality and the chemistry between these two people with irreconcilable disparities never scintillates on the screen, the old-hat way of acting does double up the running-time.
Anyway, there is still the bright side, Sybil Thorndike as the Queen Dowager, the mother-in-law of the Regent, controls a timely comic effort whenever she is released to preside the scenes, and those moments are golden! A fresh-faced Jeremy Spenser (as King Nicolas, the son of the Regent) is strikingly dashing in the uniform, he is the only surviving cast of the film with us now. After all its regal extravaganza, garish costumes and ornaments, the preposterous post-production and erratic editing hiccups stick out ridiculously, some chuckling could be wrung from the picture in any case.
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.
The disconnection between Marilyn & Laurence (the director & key actor if the film) is very apparent, they clearly didn't get along & that's clearly reflected in the film.
It's very stagy & doesn't really move anywhere that's interesting, it's a different film for Marilyn but by no means her best. Has a few good comic moments but overall a bit of a flop.
Overall the movie is still a bit of dramatic performance. But the performances of the actors and actresses are awesome.....