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Film / The Oyster Princess

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The Oyster Princess and her staff, portrayed not quite accurately. note 

"If I don't get a husband within five minutes, I'll demolish the whole house."

The Oyster Princess (Die Austernprinzessin) is a 1919 Screwball Comedy directed by Ernst Lubitsch.

Ossi (Ossi Oswalda), the daughter of Mr. Quacker, the "Oyster King of America" (Victor Janson), is furious after reading that the daughter of the "Shoe Cream King" is marrying a count and, not wanting to be outdone, demands of her father to bring her a prince to marry. A suitable candidate is found; Prince Nucki (Harry Liedhke), who has some monetary problems. Nucki sends over Josef (Julius Falkenstein) - his live-in adjutant/roommate - to make his judgement of Ossi. However, complications arise when Josef is mistaken for the Prince himself, and gets caught up in the immediate wedding cermonies...

Hilarity (and insanity) ensues.


This movie contains examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Nucki, Josef and — as far as we can tell — most of their circle of friends.
  • Altar the Speed: Ossi is in such a hurry to get married that she has the cermony carried out at the priest's home, through the window!
  • As Himself: The movie opens with shots of Lubitsch himself and the main cast out of character.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Josef seem to have traits of this. Having been left to wait in a room, he proceeds to skip around on the floor, following its' patterns, and play wich a rope hanging from the ceiling, accidentally catching the attention of the servants.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Ossi's uses a boxing match to determine which millionare's daughter gets to "take care" of Nucki. She ends up winning in the end.
  • Big Fancy House: Exaggerated. The Quackers' home is so big that Josef is given a huge map to navigate the place.
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  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Ossi can get extremely active when she wants to — being quite a enthusiastic dancer and boxer — but she can't be bothered to do dull, mundane stuff like bathing, and has a large harem of servant girls carry out the whole process for her.
  • Cassandra Truth: Ossi claims that she doesn't tell her servants that Josef is her husband, because they wouldn't believe her, anyway.
  • Catch-Phrase:
    • "I am so happy," for Joseph.
    • "This doesn't impress me at all," for Mr. Quacker. Becomes a Subverted Catch Phrase at the end of the film, when he realizes that Ossi and Nucki have eloped.
    Mr. Quacker: NOW I'M IMPRESSED!
  • Contrived Coincidence: The winner of the boxing match (Ossi) and the random drunkard her association picked up earlier (Nucki) just happen to be (unknowingly) married to each other.
  • Double-Meaning Title: Ossi is an "Oyster Princess" due to being the daughter of "The Oyster King" Mr. Quacker, a rich, highly respected tycoon. But she also becomes a literal princess by marrying Prince Nucki.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: The orchestra playing during the "Foxtrot Epidemic" includes a saw and a man getting slapped in the face. (He eventually hits the slapper back out of annoyance.)
  • Henpecked Husband: Ossi makes it quite clear that this is how she's going to treat Josef when she orders him to sit in the back of the wagon on their way home from the wedding cermony. She may or may not end up treating Nucki, her "second" husband, any better.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The Multi-Millionaires’ Daughters’ Association Against Dipsomania open their meetings by... drinking wine.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Nucki. He and Josef live together in a small apartment, and are introduced doing their own laundry in the middle of the room. Also, Nucki uses an armchair placed on top of a winebox as a makeshift throne, and Josef arms himself with a broom while acting as his bodyguard.
  • The Matchmaker: Seligson (Max Kronert) has this as his actual job, complete with an office lined with pictures of potential candidates.
  • Maternally Challenged: Ossi tries to avoid this by taking a lesson in parenting. It... doesn't go well. She ends up powdering the training doll's face, and just laughs it off when she learns where she's actually meant to put the powder. Then she throws the doll across the room. Her teacher's only objection is that they "haven't got that far yet."
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: Josef, who visits Ossi on Prince Nucki's behalf, is mistaken for the prince himself. Granted, he doesn't exactly go out of his way to correct this misconception...
  • Nobility Marries Money: Nucki is chosen to be Ossi's husband specifically to invoke this trope.
  • Shaking the Rump: The Bandmaster (Kurt Bois) does such a dance while conducting his orchestra.
  • Silly Walk: One of Mr. Quacker's Character Tics.
  • Tangled Family Tree: Implied. The wedding celebration is said to include "only the closest family members," but there are still dozens of guests, enough to completely fill out all the chairs around a long table.
  • Tantrum Throwing: Ossi's Establishing Character Moment is her being "in a fit of raving madness," throwing newspapers around because she's already broken all the vases. Her father manages to calm her down, but unfortunately, getting exited just makes her want to throw furniture instead.
    Ossi: I could smash the whole house with joy!
  • Running Gag: The ridiculus number of servants the Quackers employ for every task.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Ossi only really marries Josef because of his (presumed) status, and isn't interested in any actual intimacy with him. Thus, she has no problems pushing Nucki into a relationship with her, unaware that legally, he is the man she has married.


Example of: