The Prince and the Showgirl
|The Prince and the Showgirl|
Movie poster by Bill Gold
|Directed by||Laurence Olivier|
|Produced by||Laurence Olivier|
|Screenplay by||Terence Rattigan|
The Sleeping Prince|
by Terence Rattigan
|Music by||Richard Addinsell|
|Edited by||Jack Harris|
Marilyn Monroe Productions
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Box office||$4.3 million|
The Prince and the Showgirl (originally called The Sleeping Prince) is a 1957 British-American romantic comedy film starring Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier. Olivier also served as director and producer. The screenplay by Terence Rattigan was based on his 1953 stage play The Sleeping Prince. It was filmed at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire.
The film is set in London in June 1911. George V will be crowned king on 22 June and in the preceding days many important dignitaries arrive. Among those arriving are the 16-year-old King Nicholas VIII of the (fictional) Balkan country of Carpathia, with his Prince Regent father, Charles (Laurence Olivier), a secondary Prince of Hungary and widower of the Queen of Carpathia.
The British government decide that keeping Carpathia in the Triple Entente is critical during the rising tensions in Europe. They find it necessary to pamper the royals during their stay in London, and thus civil servant Northbrook (Richard Wattis) is detached to their service. Northbrook decides to take the Prince Regent out to the musical performance The Coconut Girl. During the intermission, the Prince Regent is taken backstage to meet the cast. He is not particularly interested in engaging with the male actors but extremely interested in the physical charms of Elsie Marina (Marilyn Monroe), one of the performers, and he sends a formal invitation for her to meet him at the Carpathian embassy for supper.
Elsie arrives at the embassy and is soon joined by the Prince Regent, a stiff and pompous man. She expects a large party but quickly realises the Prince's true intentions – to seduce her over a private supper. She is persuaded not to leave early by Northbrook, who promises to provide an excuse for her to escape after supper. The Prince Regent turns his back on her during the supper, taking phone calls and addressing matters of state. He then makes a clumsy pass at her, which she immediately rebuffs. She pointedly explains how inept he is and that she had hoped the Prince was going to sway her with romance, passion and "gypsy violins". The Prince changes his style and tactics, complete with a violinist. The two eventually kiss and Elsie admits she may be falling in love, rebuffing Northbrook's promised feint to help her leave the embassy. Elsie then passes out from the many drinks she consumed before, during and after her semi-solitary supper. 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 (Sybil Thorndike), the Prince's mother-in-law, who decides Elsie should join them for the coronation in place of her sick lady-in-waiting. The ceremony passes and Elsie refuses to tell the Prince Regent details of the treasonous plot. Nicholas then invites her to the Coronation Ball, where 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 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 to finally show sincere love to his son.
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.
- Marilyn Monroe as Elsie Marina
- Laurence Olivier as Charles, the Prince Regent of Carpathia
- Sybil Thorndike as the Dowager Queen
- Richard Wattis as Northbrook
- Jeremy Spenser as King Nicolas
- Paul Hardwick as Major Domo
- Esmond Knight as Colonel Hoffman
- Rosamund 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
The film was produced and directed by Laurence Olivier. It was shot in Technicolor at Pinewood Studios. Marilyn Monroe had formed her own company - Marilyn Monroe Productions, through which she purchased the rights to Terence Rattigan's The Sleeping Prince. Olivier and Vivien Leigh had played the lead roles in the original London production of the play.
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 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, although 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.
Variety staff wrote in their original review, "This first indie production of Marilyn Monroe's company is a generally pleasant comedy, but the pace is leisurely. Filmed in London with a predominantly British cast, the film is not a cliche Cinderella story as its title might indicate." The New York Times stated that the film lacked originality and that Rattigan's characterizations were "too limiting" and "dull" to allow Monroe and Olivier to be showcased to their fullest potential. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 83% based on 6 critics.
Monroe and Olivier received particular praise for their performances. Thorndike's performance was also described as "excellent" by Variety.
Box office performance
The Prince and the Showgirl was not a major box office success, faring poorly in comparison to Monroe's earlier releases, such as The Seven Year Itch and Bus Stop. Particularly popular in England, it failed to find the same success in America but managed to earn a substantial profit.
Awards and nominations
|Date of ceremony||Awa||Category||Recipients and nominees||Result|
|December 1957||National Board of Review Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Sybil Thorndike||Won|
|1958||British Academy Film Awards||Best British Actor||Laurence Olivier||Nominated|
|Best British Screenplay||Terence Rattigan||Nominated|
|Best British Film||The Prince and the Showgirl||Nominated|
|Best Film from any Source||The Prince and the Showgirl||Nominated|
|Best Foreign Actress||Marilyn Monroe||Nominated|
|July 29, 1958||David di Donatello Awards||Best Foreign Actress||Won|
|September 10, 1958||Laurel Awards||Top Female Comedy Performance||4th place|
|February 26, 1959||Crystal Star Awards||Best Foreign Actress||Won|
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 semi-romantic relationship with Clark for a brief time during production.
- "Top Grossing Movies of 1957". ultimatemovierankings.com. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- Crowther, Bosley (June 14, 1957). "Screen: Prince and Girl; The Cast". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- "'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
- Variety Staff (December 31, 1956). "Movie Review: The Prince and the Showgirl". Variety. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- Ryan, Pat (November 11, 2011). "The Prince, the Showgirl, and the Stray Strap". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
- "National Board of Review, USA: Awards for 1957". IMDb. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- "National Board of Review: 1957 Award Winners". nationalboardofreview.org. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- "BAFTA Awards Search: 1958". bafta.org. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- "David di Donatello Awards: Awards for 1958". IMDb. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- "Laurel Awards: Awards for 1958". IMDb. Retrieved 23 November 2014.
- "Photos: 1959 Crystal Star Award". thisismarilyn.com. Archived from the original on 18 October 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
- Kurutz, Steven (November 16, 2011). "At Home With Marilyn in England". The New York Times. New York City: New York Times Company. Retrieved April 10, 2018.
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