Synopsis

The title of the Anglo-American The Prince and the Showgirl could well have alluded to the genuine stations in life of stars Sir Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. Based on the Terence Rattigan play The Sleeping Prince, the film casts Olivier as Charles, prince regent of Carpathia, who is in London to attend the 1911 coronation of King George V. Monroe is deceptively dizzy American chorus girl Elsie Marina, who while performing in a West End revue catches Charles' eye. The prince arranges for Elsie to attend an "intimate supper" at his hotel suite. Though Elsie successfully wards off Charles' advances, she drinks too much bubbly and ends up falling asleep. Comes the dawn, and Prince Charles is anxious to show the awkward Elsie the door. She, however, has fallen in love with the prince, and sticks around long enough to upset a plan to overthrow the Carpathian throne, and to patch up a feud between Charles and his son Nicholas (Jeremy Spencer). Olivier directed as well as starred in The Prince and the Showgirl; he knew he had his work cut out for him in dealing with the mercurial Marilyn Monroe, but he managed to hold his temper and to extract a delightful comic performance from the actress. Alas, the film was a box-office disappointment, leading many Hollywood insiders to moan and wail that Monroe was "washed up" in films -- at least until her spectacular comeback in Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot (1959). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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