Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

The Prince and the Showgirl, again

Nice to spend a lazy afternoon having another look at this enduring 1957 title, which like RAINTREE COUNTY and FUNNY FACE and LES GIRLS were key movies for me that year. Jack Cardiff's glowing photography certainly renders Marilyn looking her loveliest - though squeezed into that tight white dress she looks positively chubby if not downright fat (or zaftig?) by today's skinny standards. One can now appreciate a lot more Olivier's sly performance as the Prince Regent, and of course those legion stories of the difficulties of it's making - there is even going to be a film on it, from the book by Colin Clark [with, would you believe, Judi Dench as Sybil Thorndike! - Kenneth Branagh and Michelle Williams impersonate the warring leads...).

The period detail is nice and there is a good supporting cast of British reliables: Sybil Thorndike, Jean Kent, solid Gladys Henson as the theatre dresser and best of all a good substantial role for splendid Richard Wattis - that stalwart of almost every British film of the '50s and early '60s - as the equerry. He has some nice scenes with Monroe, as indeed does young Jeremy Spencer (below) as the young prince - but what happened to him thereafter? He is one of those young actors who seem to define an era, here the late 50s, but then seems to vanish. I dare say as the '60s began there was a whole new raft of actors emerging ... but there he was with Marilyn here, a scene with Katharine Hepburn in SUMMERTIME, the young man stalking Vivien Leigh in THE ROMAN SPRING OF MRS STONE to whom she throws down the keys at the end, and he was also in a few other films, then he seems to have disappeared! Most other actors keep working in smaller roles or on television once their hot years are over...

This is also Terence Rattigan's centenary year - and this is one of his scripts. Some lovely moments include Marilyn's closeups in the carriage and cathedral scenes where she never looked more radiant, despite the turmoil going on at the time. Cardiff's book MAGIC HOUR on his illustrious career has a chapter on Monroe which really makes all the other books on her redundant. Highly recommended, as per other Cardiff posts here, at label.

1 comment:

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