The Prince and the Showgirl
|The Prince and the Showgirl|
Movie poster by Bill Gold
|Directed by||Laurence Olivier|
|Produced by||Laurence Olivier|
|Written by||Terence Rattigan|
|Music by||Richard Addinsell|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Release dates||13 June 1957 (US)|
|Running time||115 minutes|
|Box office||$1.5 million (US rentals)|
The Prince and the Showgirl is a 1957 British film produced at Pinewood Studios starring Marilyn Monroe and co-starring Laurence Olivier who also served as director and producer. Filmed in conjuncion with Marilyn Monroe Productions, it was written by Terence Rattigan who based the screenplay on his stage play The Sleeping Prince.
The production of this film serves as the backdrop for the 2011 film My Week with Marilyn.
The film is set in London in June 1911. George V will be crowned king on 22 June and in the preceding days many of the most important dignitaries arrive. Among those arriving are King Nicholas of Carpathia and the regent, Prince Charles.
The British government realises the succession in Carpathia is critical to the rising tension in Europe and to gain favour with them would be wise. They find it necessary to pamper the royals during their stay in London, and thus civil servant Northbrook is detached to their service. Northbrook decides to take the Prince Regent out to the musical performance The Coconut Girl. During the interval the Prince Regent is taken backstage to meet the cast. He is particularly uninterested in engaging with the male actors and extremely interested only in the physical charms of Elsie Marina, one of the performers, and sends a formal written invitation for her to meet him at the embassy for supper.
Elsie arrives at the embassy and is soon joined by the Prince Regent, a stiff, pompous but powerful fool. She expects a party but quickly realises the Prince's true intentions – to seduce her. She was previously persuaded not to leave early by Northbrook, who promised to provide an excuse for her to escape. While Elsie is there for love, the Prince has other ideas. He is inept at romance, however, and turns his back on her to take a phone call. He then makes a clumsy pass at her, to which she's accustomed from men and immediately rebuffs. She pointedly explains how inept he is at romance and the Prince then changes his tactics. The two eventually kiss and Elsie admits she may be falling in love, but she passes out from the many drinks he has encouraged her to consume. The Prince places her in an adjoining bedroom to stay the night.
The following day, Elsie overhears a conversation concerning the young Nicolas' plotting with the German embassy to overthrow his father. Promising not to tell, Elsie then meets the Dowager Queen, the prince's mother-in-law, who decides she should join them for the coronation in place of her lady-in-waiting. The ceremony passes and Elsie refuses to tell the Prince Regent details of the treasonous plot. During the Coronation Ball (to which she was invited by Nicholas,) she persuades Nicholas to draw up a contract in which he confesses his and the Germans' intent, but only if the Prince agrees to a general election. The Prince Regent is impressed and realises that he has fallen in love with Elsie. The morning after the Coronation Ball, Elsie irons out the differences between father and son. Her honesty and sincerity have inspired the prince finally to show love to his son in private, rather than only affecting it in public.
The next day, the Carpathians must leave to return home. The Prince Regent had planned to have Elsie join them; in eighteen months' time, his regency will be over and he will be a free citizen. She reminds him that that is also the length of her music-hall contract. They both realise that much can happen in eighteen months and say goodbye. The ending is ambiguous, left up to the viewer to decide if they will meet again in 18 months time.
- Marilyn Monroe as Elsie Marina. Elsie is a showgirl who is targeted by the Prince Regent as a sexual conquest whom he asks to the Carpathian embassy for supper.
- Laurence Olivier as Charles, the Prince Regent of Carpathia. He is a stickler for formality and, because of his wealth and position, takes advantage of women of the working class. He invites Elsie Marina to the Embassy for supper.
- Sybil Thorndike as the Dowager Queen. The Queen is rather deaf but understands the events around her. She has some very witty conversations with Elsie.
- Richard Wattis as Northbrook. Northbrook is the unflappable British civil servant, assigned to the Prince Regent of Carpathia as an aide.
- Jeremy Spenser as King Nicolas of Carpathia, though Carpathia is governed by his father, Prince Charles, as Regent.
- Paul Hardwick as Major Domo
- Esmond Knight as Colonel Hoffman
- Rosamond Greenwood as Maud
- Aubrey Dexter as The Ambassador
- Maxine Audley as Lady Sunningdale
- Harold Goodwin as Call Boy
- Jean Kent as Maisie Springfield
- Daphne Anderson as Fanny
- Gillian Owen as Maggie
- Vera Day as Betty
- Margot Lister as Lottie
- Charles Victor as Theatre Manager
- David Horne as The Foreign Office
- Gladys Henson as Dresser
Production was marred with difficulties between Monroe and her co-stars and the production team. According to Jean Kent, Monroe regularly failed to arrive on set on time and "appeared dirty and dishevelled". She caused her co-star Richard Wattis, who had a lot of scenes with her, to "take to drink because takes had to be done so many times” and had an uneasy relationship with the normally quiet and placid cinematographer Jack Cardiff, who said that Olivier referred to her as a "bitch". "She never arrived on time, never said a line the same way twice, seemed completely unable to hit her marks on the set and couldn’t and wouldn’t do anything at all without consulting her acting coach, Paula Strasberg." Olivier also reportedly showed a strong dislike of Monroe and her acting coach; he ordered Strasberg off the set at one point and Monroe refused to continue shooting until she was restored. The relationship between Olivier and Monroe worsened when Olivier said "try and be sexy" to her and she never forgave him for it. Kent states that the difficulties with filming and with Monroe caused Olivier "to age 15 years."
Donald Sinden, then a contract star for the Rank Organisation at Pinewood Studios, had a permanent dressing room four doors from Monroe's during the filming, though working on different movies. He said "She was still suffering from the effects of The Method school of acting, so one day I had the props department make up a notice that I fixed to my door saying: "Office of the Nazak (Kazan, backwards) Academy. You too can be inaudible. New egos superimposed. Motivations immobilised. Imaginary stone-kicking eradicated. Um's & Er's rendered obsolete. Motto: 'Though 'Tis Method Yet There's Madness In It'." I waited inside and presently heard the usual footsteps of her and her entourage. They paused outside and from the entire group I only heard one laugh - that of Monroe. The door burst open and in she came, slamming the door in the faces of her livid retainers. From that moment on, whenever the poor girl could not face the problems of her hybrid existence - which was frequently - she popped in for a natter and a giggle. Of course as a sex symbol she was stunning, but sadly, she must be one of the silliest women I have ever met."
The film proved less than impressive, both critically and financially. It recorded a profit, but many critics panned it for being slow-moving.
The movie was nominated for five BAFTA Awards:
- Best British Actor – Laurence Olivier
- Best British Film
- Best British Screenplay – Terence Rattigan
- Best Film from any Source
- Best Foreign Actress – Marilyn Monroe
Crystal Star Award (French Film Academy)
- Best Foreign Actress – Marilyn Monroe
David Di Donatello (Italian Film Academy)
- Best Foreign Actress – Marilyn Monroe
National Board of Review Awards:
- Best Supporting Actress – Sybil Thorndike
The 2011 film My Week with Marilyn depicts the week in which Monroe spent being escorted around London by personal assistant Colin Clark, during the filming of The Prince and the Showgirl. The movie is largely based upon two books by Clark recounting his experiences during the production: My Week with Marilyn (2000) and The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set With Marilyn and Olivier (1996). Both books and the film depict Monroe striking up a friendship and alleged semi-romantic relationship with Clark for a brief time during production.
- "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30
- Bosley Crowther (1957). "The Prince and the Showgirl". The New York Times.
- "'Grubby' Marilyn Monroe made Laurence Olivier 'age 15 years' during filming". The Daily Telegraph. 20 May 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2013.
- A Touch Of The Memoirs Donald Sinden. Hodder & Stoughton 1982. pages 238-9
- Pat Ryan (11 November 2011). "The Prince, the Showgirl, and the Stray Strap". The New York Times.
- Steven Kurutz (16 November 2011). "At Home With Marilyn in England". The New York Times.
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