“With such a girl like that, anything can happen — anything.”
Just before the coronation of King George V in 1911 London, the Prince Regent of Carpathia (Laurence Olivier) woos a sexy American showgirl (Marilyn Monroe) while feuding with his son (Jeremy Spencer) and dealing with attempts to take over his throne.
Laurence Olivier’s first non-Shakespearean effort as a cinematic director was this lightweight historical romantic comedy, based on Terence Rattigan‘s play The Sleeping Prince, and best known by modern audiences as the subject of the 2011 film My Week With Marilyn (starring Michelle Williams). Indeed, MWWM offers such a fascinating — if potentially apocryphal — glimpse behind the scenes of the film’s notoriously troubled production that most film fanatics will want to take a look simply out of curiosity; but unfortunately, it hasn’t held up as engaging entertainment on its own. The primary problem is that Olivier isn’t comfortable enough with the comedic genre to elevate the material: his one-note portrayal as the Teutonic prince regent feels strained, as does the entire stagy scenario. Monroe gives a typically appealing performance as a sexpot who isn’t quite as naive as she looks or acts (and wow, how she fills out that dress!) — but her interactions with Olivier are consistently painful, given that he’s not only a complete user (he simply wants to bed her and discard her — end of story), but never manages to redeems himself as anyone worthy of her romantic interests. Meanwhile, the way in which Monroe’s character does eventually fall for Olivier’s character completely discredits her intelligence, making it a challenge to respect her throughout the rest of the film. The best aspect of the movie by far is Jack Cardiff’s incomparably luminous cinematography, which showcases Monroe and her vibrantly colored surroundings to wonderful effect.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Marilyn Monroe as Elsie
- Jack Cardiff’s cinematography
No – though naturally it will be of interest to those who’ve seen My Week With Marilyn, or to Monroe completists.