The Swan (film)
|Directed by||Charles Vidor|
|Produced by||Dore Schary|
|Written by||John Dighton
Ferenc Molnár (play)
Jessie Royce Landis
|Music by||Bronislau Kaper|
|Editing by||John D. Dunning|
|Release dates||26 April 1956 (U.S.)|
|Running time||104 min|
|Box office||$1.9 million (US)|
The 1956 film is a romantic comedy released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, directed by Charles Vidor, produced by Dore Schary from a screenplay by John Dighton, and based on the play by Ferenc Molnár. The original music score was by Bronislau Kaper, the cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg and Robert Surtees, the art direction by Randall Duell and Cedric Gibbons, and the costume design by Helen Rose.
The film deals with the story of the daughter of a minor branch of a European royal house who is being considered as a wife for her cousin, the heir to the throne.
Princess Alexandra (Kelly) is the princess, her cousin the crown prince, Albert (Guinness), and her brothers' tutor, a commoner for whom she thinks she may feel more affection than she does for the prince (Jourdan).
The princess's relatives – played by Jessie Royce Landis, Estelle Winwood, and Brian Aherne – are comically eccentric, and Agnes Moorehead, as the queen who shows up near the end to find out if the princess has made the grade, is crankily imperious. Leo G. Carroll plays their butler. Van Dyke Parks also appears in this movie.
Princess Alexandra is urged by her mother to accept Albert so that their family may regain a throne that was taken from them by Napoleon. Princess Alexandra tries to gain Albert's attention; he is otherwise taken with sleeping late, shooting duck and playing football with Alexandra's two younger brothers. Alexandra's mother urges her to show interest in the tutor, Mr. Agi, to make Albert jealous and stimulate a proposal from him.
Agi is already taken with Alexandra and when she invites him to the farewell ball for the crown prince he eagerly accepts. Later when they are dancing at the ball it appears that Albert is getting jealous but instead he is more interested in playing the bass in the orchestra.
Later, Agi tells Alexandra how he feels about her. She tells him that it was all a ploy to get Albert to propose to her and she suspected he felt this way. She realizes that she has some feelings for him but he refuses her. Albert comes to find out about this situation and is a little taken aback. Albert and Agi trade insults. Agi then storms out and tries to leave the next morning.
Alexandra, distraught over what happened, tries to leave with him, but he refuses her again. Albert's mother shows up and gets the entire story and is aghast. Albert gives his blessing to the pair and says that when he is king he will allow them back into the country. However, Agi ends up leaving the mansion without Alexandra.
Albert tries to console Alexandra by telling her she is like a swan: on the water she looks serene, but on land she is more like a goose. Albert then offers Alexandra his arm and they walk back into the mansion together.
Background and production notes
The 1925, 1930, and 1956 films are all based on a Hungarian play entitled A Hattyú, Vígjáték Három Felvonásban (The Swan, A Comedy in Three Acts)  by Ferenc Molnár (Budapest, 1914).
Grace Kelly had previously appeared in the CBS Television production of The Swan on 9 June 1950.
The large elegant diamond ring Grace Kelly wore in The Swan wasn’t a paste prop; it was real. It was her engagement ring from Prince Rainier III, a 12 carat diamond surrounded by rubies to represent Monaco’s red-and-white national colors.
MGM held the release of The Swan to correspond with the wedding day of Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier of Monaco, on 18 April 1956.
The score was composed by Bronislau Kaper and conducted by Johnny Green, with orchestrations by Robert Franklyn. One piece of source music, "Rakoczy March", an 1809 piece by John Bihari, was conducted by Miklós Rózsa.
MGM Records released two suites of portions of the music from the film on long-playing record after the release of the film. The complete score was released in 2004, on cd, on the Film Score Monthly label.
Earlier film versions
- The 1925 silent film with the same title was directed by Dimitri Buchowetzki and starred Frances Howard as Princess Alexandra and Adolphe Menjou as Crown Prince Albert.
- One Romantic Night (1930) starred Lillian Gish as Princess Alexandra and Rod La Rocque as Prince Albert, with Conrad Nagel as the tutor. It was directed by Paul Stein.
Original Broadway production
- 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1956', Variety Weekly, January 2, 1957
- (CD insert notes). The Swan. Bronislau Kaper. Vol. 7, No. 5.