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The Prince and the Showgirl

Warner Bros./Warner Home Video . R4 . COLOR . 112 mins . G . PAL


Years ago, my sister was a huge fan of Marilyn Monroe, yet I’d never seen this movie. That having been said it looked all too familiar as the minutes ticked on. Diamond in the rough girl with heart of gold wins over the rich aristocrat. My Fair Lady, Pretty Woman, - God, even The Beautician and the Beast! The Prince and the Showgirl may well be the first version, but there’s nothing new here folks, just the sweetness of Marilyn doing what she did best, which was be Marilyn Monroe. My partner turned to me ten minutes in and said ‘How do they get 112 minutes out of this? With an educated guess and knowing a little of Hollywood, I said; “She’ll thwart some conspiracy or bring the kid nearer his father or rescue Timmy down the well or something.” Beengo. A little from each thanks.

Laurence Olivier practically elicited a scream when he showed up on screen. He did look decidedly creepy, yet half an hour later Marilyn is proclaiming her undying love for this cad. Yeep! People worked fast back then. Nowadays it takes 90(ish) Hollywood minutes to fall in love.


The transfer has been accomplished fairly well with a relatively clean picture, but some of the colour levels seem slightly off. At times the flesh tones look rather pasty, and at others too heavily made up. I’m not sure if this is the original film or the transfer, but it’s a teensy bit disconcerting. The shadows tend to be a little stale too, rather a dark washed grey than a black. All together it gives the film an ‘is it colourised or isn’t it?’ feel. (My research tells me it was originally shot in colour). At least the picture is clean though, and doesn’t have too many film artefacts, which is always a treat.


The sound is a simple Dolby Digital 1.0 mix, which isn’t the best, but it’s still suitable for a dialogue piece like this. Considering the film’s age, the sound is fairly even and solid, but it has problems sometimes when the all-important dialogue is overshadowed by sound effects. This isn’t the audio’s fault, of course, but a couple of extra channels might have helped us poor viewers. I know the film was recorded on one track and this isn’t possible, but it’s a shame anyway. (They can isolate tracks on cop shows and stuff so it must be possible…)

Music is nicely done, from single violin pieces to full blown orchestral compositions. Oh, and Marilyn may catch you by surprise when she starts singing to the Prince; she did us. That bit got a little cheesy, but that was no doubt, the style of the time (as fast-forwarding is the style of ours).


There’s an interesting, though small, array of extra features on this DVD. We get the Original Theatrical Trailer (unrestored, as usual) and an Announcement Newsreel, which is unusual and pretty cool. It’s kinda like something Entertainment Tonight would do today, promoting the merger between Olivier and Monroe. Hype, I think, is the word. It’s a pretty cool touch and interestingly they refer to the film by its stage name, The Sleeping Prince. I love seeing this sort of thing on older movie DVDs. It’s a nice way of bringing old footage into the average person’s home for posterity. Ahh.


This is a sweet little film, though the chemistry doesn’t quite seem to be there between Monroe and Olivier in my mind. She made better films and so did he, but in its day I’m sure it pulled ’em in by the thousand. If you love her work, you’re sure to be wowed. You’ll probably be disappointed by the lack of extras, but older films so rarely have a pile of them and this ’un is no different. If you don’t know Marilyn’s work, or even Olivier’s for that matter, there are better vehicles to try as an introduction, but there are also worse.

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      And I quote...
    "A Marilyn film is like a box of chocolates…"
    - Jules Faber
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