A saucy showgirl (Marilyn Monroe) is ineptly romanced by a lascivious European royal (Laurence Olivier) in this screen version of Terrence Rattigan’s The Sleeping Prince.
Given its famously troubled production (most recently chronicled in My Week with Marilyn), it’s something of a miracle that The Prince and the Showgirl is so enjoyable. Determined to take charge of her own career, Monroe started a production company, bought the rights to Terrence Rattigan’s The Sleeping Prince, and signed on Laurence Olivier (who had made a hit of the play on the London stage) to co-star and direct. In 1911 London, saucy showgirl Elsie Marina (Monroe) is ineptly romanced by the lascivious Prince Charles of Carpathia (a monocled, lightly ghoulish Olivier) and ends up in the midst of treacherous court intrigue after she spends a night at his embassy, having passed out from too much champagne. Adhering to her Method approach to acting (which grated on the classically trained British cast), continually turning up late on set and fluffing her lines in endless retakes, Monroe even managed to infuriate the normally unflappable cinematographer Jack Cardiff, who shot the film in glorious Technicolor. The only film Monroe made outside of America, The Prince and the Showgirl sent her right back to Hollywood, where she soon triumphed in Some Like It Hot.
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