The Student Prince (film)
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|The Student Prince|
|Directed by||Richard Thorpe|
|Produced by||Joe Pasternak|
|Written by||Sonya Levien
Dorothy Donnelly (play)
Wilhelm Meyer-Förster (novel and play)
Betta St. John
|Music by||Sigmund Romberg|
|Edited by||Gene Ruggiero|
|June 15, 1954|
The Student Prince is a 1954 CinemaScope color film musical featuring, as the credits read, "the singing voice of Mario Lanza". Lanza had become embroiled in a bitter dispute with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer during production and the studio fired him. Under the terms of the settlement with Lanza, MGM retained the film rights to the soundtrack that Lanza had already recorded. The songs from this film (including "Beloved" – written specially for the movie – and the well-remembered "Serenade", from the original show) would become some of those most identified with Lanza, even though they were mouthed in the film by Edmund Purdom, who took over the role of Prince Karl. Ann Blyth starred as Kathie. Blyth had played opposite Lanza in the 1951 blockbuster The Great Caruso.
The film was directed by Richard Thorpe (who replaced the original director, Curtis Bernhardt) and produced by Joe Pasternak. The screenplay was by Sonya Levien and William Ludwig and was based on the operetta The Student Prince by Sigmund Romberg and Dorothy Donnelly which was in turn based on the 1901 play Old Heidelberg by Wilhelm Meyer-Förster. New scenes and rewritten dialogue not found in the stage production were also added, although the basic plot remained the same. Additional songs were specially written by Nicholas Brodszky and Paul Francis Webster. Many of Ms. Donnelly's original stage lyrics were completely changed for the film. Owing to the story's popularity it has been turned into films on numerous occasions, including the American silent film Old Heidelberg (1915), the German silent film Old Heidelberg (1923 film) (1923), Ernst Lubitsch's The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927), and Ernst Marischka's Old Heidelberg (1959).
Albums made from the film
Lanza made two recordings of the songs from the movie – the first was a genuine film soundtrack recording, in mono. In 1959, after stereo had become possible on records, another recording with Lanza was issued. But rather than simply reissuing the original soundtrack in stereo (which would have been possible since the movie was filmed using 4-track stereo, and stereo albums were released starting in 1958), RCA Victor recorded an all-new studio cast album of the score, and the role of Kathie was sung by soprano Norma Giusti. The original Dorothy Donnelly lyrics were restored to this album. Both the 1954 and 1959 albums, however, also included the three additional songs written specially for the film version ("Summertime in Heidelburg," "I'll Walk With God," and "Beloved"), and both albums omit the solo for Kathie, "Come Boys".
The young prince Karl, of a small sub-kingdom of the German Empire is sent off near the turn of the 20th century to get a university education in Heidelberg, Baden-Wuerttemberg. His grandfather was one of a handful of petty kings within German-speaking central Europe. Fictional Karlsburg is small but fiercely proud of its history and traditions.
Karl has been raised most of his life for the military, but when it comes time for him to marry, the princess picked for him can't stand his stiff formality. This would not be such a problem but for the fact that Karlsburg has no great wealth, only good breeding. His tutor recommends that he be sent to University to develop an easier, more sociable manner. He (eventually) slips into the social mix, becomes accepted as a "good chap" by his student peers, and falls deeply in love with Kathie, a pretty, popular, and musically inclined barmaid, who holds "court" in the local biergarten. Love notwithstanding, when his old grandfather passes on unexpectedly, the young Prince must turn his back on the girl and marry the princess, while taking his place in the small Kingdom that he's been preordained to rule. He returns for one more visit to Heidelberg, and bids Kathie a poignant farewell.
The parallel subplot of the Princess being in love with Count Tarnitz, whom she cannot marry, was completely omitted from the film.
The film was a big hit - according to MGM records it made $2,528,000 in the US and Canada and $2,813,000 in other countries, resulting in a profit of $451,000.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
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