“I’m in love with your great-great grandmother — I have been since the moment I entered this castle!”
In 1800s Italy, a Hungarian (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) invading the castle of newlywed Countess Angelina (Betty Grable) falls for a painting of Countess Francesca, Angelina’s lookalike ancestor. Soon he finds himself enamored with Angelina herself, which makes Angelina’s husband (Cesar Romero) increasingly jealous.
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Betty Grable Films
- Cesar Romero Films
- Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. Films
- Ernst Lubitsch Films
- Historical Drama
- Royalty and Nobility
- Otto Preminger Films
- Romantic Comedy
This amusing costume farce — co-starring Betty Grable (the highest-paid Hollywood performer in 1947) and a delightfully tongue-in-cheek Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. — is a heady mixture of fantasy, historical drama, romance, musical interludes, jealousy, and humor, all presented in gorgeous Technicolor. Fairbanks’ performance as the lovestruck Colonel (who knew he was such a natural comedic actor?) is indubitably the highlight of the film (check out his Cheshire Cat grin as he dreams of Francesca/Angelina), while Grable — with her bouncy blonde curls — is appropriately luminous and feisty in the title role, and even manages to show off her million-dollar legs in one fun dance scene (see the poster image). Although there aren’t quite enough songs to classify That Lady as a full-steam musical, the first ditty — “Ooh! What I’ll Do (To That Wild Hungarian)” — is enormously catchy. All in all, this one is great fun.
Note: Otto Preminger took over direction of the film when Ernst Lubitsch died mid-production, but the transition is seamless.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. as Col. Ladislas and The Duke
- Betty Grable as Francesca/Angelina
- Cesar Romero as Mario
- Harry Davenport as Angelina’s loyal servant
- Effective set designs and historical costumes
- A clever, “realistic” portrayal of characters emerging from portraits
- Many genuinely amusing, tongue-in-cheek moments — as when Francesca carries — then flies — the Colonel upstairs
Yes. This unusual fairy-tale-for-adults is a surprisingly enjoyable flick.