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The Prince and the Showgirl
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75 of 78 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2002
I've seen this film perhaps twenty times since it came out in 1957 and find the glowing DVD version perfection, much better than the laserdisk.When I first saw it, I believe it was projected through a lens masked for widescreen. So I was disappointed through the years when the videocassette and laserdisk versions weren't in widescreen. Now I'm delighted that the DVD isn't in widescreen, since the show was shot in standard format and we get almost the whole negative image on screen, with only a shot or two faintly cramped or with a figure not quite as fully seen as it was meant to be. No such worry about MM though, no image of her gets trimmed: the magnificent ballgown she's poured into becomes a character in itself. For me, this is MM's greatest performance just as "Camille" is Garbo's. In "Camille" you never catch Garbo acting, every line feels tossed off or thrown away except the big ones, which get the full heartcry the script calls for. In MM's film her every line flows from her with an assurance she matched only in "Bus Stop" and never feels acted. Inge's "Bus Stop", aside frin MM's scenes, strikes me as far less interesting than Rattigan's neatly built comedy, whose scenes without MM retain strong interest both because of the script and of Olivier's hand for detail and grip on staging. Also, Jack Cardiff fills the screen with glowing color to match the decor and costumes and much of my delight lies in having the full screen aglow, wall to wall and top to bottom with luscious light--light focused often on MM's sheer glory. Olivier's line readings are great fun, a grotesque joy, but MM reads like an angel and steals the show with her heartfelt method realism. What can one say about her that isn't less than she deserves here?
For the horrors behind the filming, you might turn to Colin Clark's "The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set with Marilyn and Olivier" (St. Martin's Press, $20.95) where this angel's neuroses are revealed in full. And yet Sybil Thordyke, her costar here as the Queen Mother, said of MM during the shooting that MM was the only one on the set who knew how to act on film and be natural. The crew often thought she wasn't acting--until the rushes starte showing up. Colin Clark himself (he's the son of art historian Kenneth Clark, was Olivier's gofer on the set, and later helped establish NYC's PBS station Channel 13) said that when the film was done, despite the endless agony everyone had working with her, MM was "a force of nature" onscreen, although the whole crew threw her wrap party's gifts into the garbage. Yes, one must admit that MM had more serious flaws than we the still living. But do we take issue with the model for Velazquez's gorgeous Venus in "The Toilet of Venus" (who may have been a waitress he hired) whose long bare body and glorious behind have the same pale rosiness as MM's skin under Cardiff's lighting, while Cardiff treats her hair and eyes and mouth, her bottom and her bitty little belly, with all the care of Velazquez. We no longer remember Velazquez's model but that painting of her captures the eternal feminine. And someday MM's Elsie Marina in this film will rise in the heavens of art and be remembered while MM becomes a receding historical figure, like Pola Negri the Vamp whose dark eyes once spilled their eroticism over the planet, and just as Garbo the unread rather brainless woman fades farther from view every year while her Marguerite Gautier in "Camille" remains a serene image of artistic divinity.
As a footnote, let me add that all the actors are superb, as is the score. I was so delighted by the score (not to mention MM's sweet singing) in 1957 that I wrote a fan letter to Richard Addinsell, the composer (best-known for his "Warsaw Concerto") and he wrote back about his thankfulness to Olivier for his not asking him for "music by the yard," as was the custom when Addinsell wrote film music for others, but rather allowed him to let go and write every note from the heart. That music adds no little lift of pleasure to the images--and to MM and Olivier's big waltz scene at the ball. May I live to see this wonderful movie many more times.
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62 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on November 1, 2004
I have two complaints about this film. (1) The special effects used for the coronation parade are very bad; and (2) the song Marilyn sings is very poor (but thankfully brief). However, there is one overwhelming reason to take this film to heart. I have 17 films in which Marilyn Monroe appears or stars, and I can say with certainty that in this one, she is her most radiant, most charming, and most beautiful. And because this is her "happiest" film, she giggles, and she laughs, and it's marvelous! My favorite film will always be "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," and I think Marilyn's best acting is in "The Misfits." But in "The Prince and the Showgirl," I see Marilyn Monroe as the gorgeous American Icon we all love and cherish. Although the movie is not all that good, it showcases the Ultimate Marilyn. For her, and for her alone, I must give this film 4 stars.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 1999
I first saw this movie years ago, very late or early on a New Year's Eve. I staid glued to the set watching the relationship between these two develop. Marilyn Monroe is so young and charming and funny. Laurence Olivier was already a very established actor. It surprised me to see him in this film, but as usual he pulled it off. I have looked for a copy of this film for a long time. It's a little known jewel in both Olivier's and Monroe's carreers. It's worth seeing.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on January 19, 2011
I cannot believe how wide of the mark are so many of the reviews for this highly entertaining and funny movie. I have watched it several times over the years, still watch it occasionally and am amazed that it continues to entertain and amuse - it just refuses to date.

The funny, sparkling script by Terence Rattigan is leavened with the yeast of telling social commentary, as relevant today as it is to the Edwardian setting. It is full of perceptive one-liners that still make us chuckle. The basic story of how a street-wise, but romantic young girl not only survives, but succeeds in the rarified class-conscious world of royalty and ossified convention is one that enchants us and has us rooting for her.

Visually, it is a feast of riotous colour - stunning interiors, beautiful women in gorgeous dresses and men in either impressive uniforms or the masculine elegance of Edwardian menswear. What's not to like? Jack Cardiff, the cinematographer, yet again demonstrates his unique painterly skill as the finest Technicolor camaraman ever. He displays Marilyn Monroe's beauty better than any other cinematographer has ever done.

The comments that Olivier's acting is "wooden" and that Monroe acts him off the screen are just ridiculous. Olivier is an actor, for heaven's sake, and is playing a Balkan prince of no charm and sombre character. The first five minutes alone - where he thanks the line of actors - is memorably funny with Olivier's subtle interpretation of a bored royal's public relations ritual. He brilliantly contrasts the prince's distant, embarrassed, response to forward yoicks to his attempts at flirtatious conversation with attractive young and not-so-young women. And the carriage scene, in which his ferocious demeanour melts into a wintry smile at the young, impressionable girl's evident excited enjoyment of the occasion is Olivier at his best. Watch his impeccable timing as he delivers his comic lines - it looks just so easy and natural, until we try to do it ourselves! Superb acting. This film also demonstrates that he was an excellent director, as good as any. The pacing, the characterisation, the way in which the story is played out to us, the precise timing of the many comic situation set-pieces, show directorial skills of the highest order.

Anyone who believes that Monroe could not act should be made to watch this movie. She clearly demonstrates here that she was a naturally talented actress with a particular skill for comedy. Unfortunately, in her personal life she was surrounded by hangers-on, some of whom had only their own interests at heart, and some who were plain nutters. Between them they destroyed her self-confidence and suppressed her own natural talent. Here, with first-class, sympathetic direction from Olivier, she was permitted to shine and show what she could do. She was no puppet, however. Her facial expressions and body language, throughout the film, display natural acting talent of a high order, far beyond anything that could be achieved by blind responses to a directorial Svengali. Watch her, for instance, during the Coronation scene, as the rituals of an Old World society begin to impress her New World instincts. The stories that Olivier was driven to the edge by her frustrating behaviour during shooting only emphasise more strongly his directorial talents -nothing of this shows in the movie we see.

One comment from another reviewer that I cannot disagree with is the attraction of the "Monroe ass", though personally, I would simply prefer to say that never has the archetypal Edwardian bottom been more provocatively wiggled or more attractively presented in a knock-out design of a dress.

Watch out for excellent supporting performances from two British stage stalwarts: Sybil Thorndike as a delightfully dotty Balkan Dowager Queen and a wonderful characterisation of a, perhaps, not-so-stuffy man from the Foreign Office by Richard Wattis. Skilled actors like these make us believe in the worlds created by the stars and are a delight to watch.

Some movies are made not as great art, but just to entertain. That it does, brilliantly well. Sit back, enjoy and best of all, laugh.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2000
Anyone who has any doubt that Marilyn Monroe could act must see this movie. She absolutely out does Laurence Olivier! She is so funny and charming, and her timing is impeccable. The movie is very funny and romantic, and Sybil Thorndyke is also wonderfully funny. A MUST SEE!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2003
Warner Brothers gives us an outstanding remastered video & sound DVD. The Technicolor Full Feature picture quality and clarity are eye candy to watch.
Marilyns co-star Lord Lawrence Olivier also Directed & Produced this satarical comedy of royalty meets show business.
Summary: The year is 1911 Olivier a touring European Prince meets a showgirl (Monroe) backstage in a London theatre. His immediate attraction to her prompts an immediate invitation for a midnight dinner back at his royal suite. Her beauty & candid wit keeps the prince off guard. A romance begins and the reality of royal service constantly interfere. Will they find happiness ever after?
Marilyn as always is beautiful and her comedy skills are unmatched. The Special Features include; Cast & Crew, Trailer and Announcement Newsreel.
This is a fun movie especially for Monroe fans. Enjoy.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 1999
This isn't the best of her movies, but Marilyn is great to look at and she is very talented in this love story. Olivier, who i love, is also very good in this slow moving romance. worth a look just to watch marilyn's beauty...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2002
I gave this film four stars--each for Monroe, who is at her dazzling comedic best here. The film itself is a slow period piece, lanquidly directed by Laurence Olivier, but MM breathes exuberant life into her every onscreen moment. Playing a character with some smarts and savvy, given wittier lines than usual, Monore simply walks away with the film. She is a vigorous American showgirl--healthy, vital, nobody's fool. If anyone possibly doubts MOnroe's ability to create character, compare this vital delectable performance with the weary, worn-out Cherie of "Bus Stop" filmed just months before. Both performances reveal facets of Monroe's talent she was never allowed to use again--not even in "Some Like It Hot." Dame Sybil Thorndike, playing Olivier's mother-in-law steals scenes from Monroe AND Sir Laurence! The coronation sequence is deadly dull and the ending--Monroe's rapid about face--is silly. But the film lives for her delicious high-spirits and wit.
Two other points--Monroe wears the most unforgiving gown of her career, a white number that she never takes off, which rather cuts down on much-needed visual variety. And the voice that she uses in the brief musical interlude is indeed hers; she has simply pitched it to a MUCH higher key! This is not as appealing as her her usual singing style, but appropriate for the period.
"The Prince and The Showgirl" is not Monroe's most famous role, but it is one of her greatest performances. And that she was able to create something that appears so effortless at a time of tremendous personal crisis (she miscarried during the film) stands as a testament to her oft-maligned professionalism.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on December 26, 2005
I found Marilyn Monroe's performance absolutely intelligent and shrewd and delightful. In this movie, she plays a show girl taken to spend a night with the visiting Grand Duke of Carpithia, played by Lawrence Olivier. It's 1911 and he's in England for the Coronation of thr King of England. She thinks there'll be other people there, but when she finds out that they'll be alone, she wants to leave inmediately. Plot developments, of course, keep her near the Grand Duke. It takes him a while (perhaps too long?) to be charmed by her physical assets and personality, but at last, he falls for her.When this movie was released, Marilyn was 31 and she proves herself to be a good comedienne once again.I would have wished for a different ending. The rest of the cast is very good, with fine British actors. Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
This film is the gitty,sexy,seductive Marilyn Monroe.Sir Laurence Olivier co stars and the film is shot in the UK.
Splendid color film.Marilyn is in top form.This sex symbol was not your typical current sexy leading Emaciated
Leading lady.She epitomized the wholesome look.Sadly,we lost her too soon.She was versatile on the screen.
Comedy,drama,musical,she could do it all effortlessly.
This is a fun movie.But her charisma and femininity
Have eyes riveted on her,and Olivier is one of the great actors of his time.
.As Bernie Taupin,lyricist for Elton John wrote in their hit song,goodbye Norma Jean,though
I never knew you at all,you had the grace to hold yourself,while those around you crawled.Her legendary status is timeless.
She remains the ultimate star of the silver screen some 50 years after her untimely death.
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