Friday, November 18, 2011

The Prince and the Showgirl

The Prince and the Showgirl
seen online via YouTube

What's left to say about Marilyn Monroe that hasn't already been said? No other actress since has had the impact she had on pop culture worldwide. You'd have to look at stars in other media, like Madonna, to even come close (I think we can all agree that we think of Madonna as a singer first and an actress second) - and even she has invoked the spirit of Marilyn.

She was a movie star - maybe the movie star - but we rarely think of her as an actor in the same sense as someone like, say, Laurence Olivier. So perhaps their pairing in The Prince and the Showgirl might seem unusual in that sense. Surprisingly, though, Marilyn holds her own when matched with the master thespian. The story involves a prince (actually a prince-regent) of a fictitious European country who's got a hard-on for a minor actress in an English stage show. (An American actress; Marilyn thankfully doesn't attempt an accent.)

Maybe being around someone like Olivier enabled her to raise her game, but Marilyn is by turns sly, witty, and more than a little devious, in addition to being hot (but that goes without saying). It's not like she was a mediocre actress before this movie, but she was no Katherine Hepburn, either. Here, she's given a substantial role, and she makes the most of it, as much from the looks she gives in certain scenes and the chemistry she has with co-star-director Olivier as anything else.

As for Olivier, I find myself once again forced to re-evaluate the image I've always had of him as a straight-laced, prim and proper, stiff-upper-lip Brit. He's actually funny! He comes close to being farcical but never quite crosses that line, and while the movie itself is a bit longer than it should be, it's enjoyable.

Of course, it turns out that there's a story behind the making of Prince, which will be portrayed in the upcoming film My Week with Marilyn, featuring Michelle Williams and Kenneth Branagh as Monroe and Olivier. I'm not convinced it's the most compelling story that could be told - crew member has a brief dalliance with Monroe during the shooting of Prince - but I'm certainly eager to see the uber-talented Williams portray the screen legend.


  1. Rich,
    I also thought Olivier and Monroe was a curious match but their pairing worked. I can't wait to see the new film since it does surround the time she was in London.

    I have a telegram that Olivier sent to journo Hadie Harris inviting her to a dinner for Marilyn at the Savoy upon her arrival in London to shoot this film. It's one of my favorite pieces of memorabilia and I'll share it when I do my bio on Olivier.

    A great film and a lovely write up.

  2. Thanks! I'd like to see that telegram.


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