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Film / The Prince and the Showgirl

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The Prince and the Showgirl is a 1957 Screwball Comedy starring Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, and directed by the former. It was adapted from Terence Rattigan's play The Sleeping Prince.

Set against the backdrop of the 1911 coronation of King George V, the film stars Olivier as Prince Charles, a strict Ruritanian regent, and Monroe as Elsie Marina, a fun-loving American showgirl. Before long, Elsie becomes involved not only in a royal romance, but in some international intrigue which could lead to a world war.

Twenty-first-century audiences may know this movie best as the Film Within a Film in My Week with Marilyn. Coincidentally, My Week With Marilyn was released in 2011, exactly a century after the 1911 setting of The Prince and the Showgirl.

This film provides examples of:

  • Avoiding the Great War: Carpathia is in the Entente Alliance, but the underage King Nicolas is pro-German. Impatient to assume power, he plots with the Germans to oust the regent, an action which could lead to World War I starting three years early. Elsie prevents this from happening by mending the relationship between Prince Charles and King Nicolas.
  • Easily-Overheard Conversation: Nicholas (the sixteen year old king of Carpathia) has an entire conversation in front of Elsie about his plans to overthrow his father with German help—and while it is in a different language, it also happens to be one that Elsie speaks...
  • The Edwardian Era: Technically, it takes place during the coronation of King Edward's successor, but still.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The movie takes place over the course of three days, specifically June 21 to June 23 of 1911
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Elsie gets drunk on what the Regent claims is the normal amount of vodka to add to a four-year-old child's morning milk. Thing is, so does he...
  • Curtain Camouflage: Mild version, as the Regent is in a different room but peers out the window as Elsie talks to her friends from the next balcony.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The Regent repeatedly criticizes Elsie for the things that he promptly does himself.
  • No Sense of Humor: Elsie tells her friends that the Regent has no sense of humor. When he confronts her on this, she modifies it to being a "Carpathian" sense of humor: just as good, but...different.
  • Only Sane Man: Poor Northbrook
  • Ruritania: Prince Charles is the prince regent of a fictional Balkan country called Carpathia, presumably named for the Carpathian Mountains.
  • Running Gag: Elsie making the Regent pin his farewell-gift brooch to her dress....every time she's about to leave.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Prince Charles is savvy, Elsie is energetic.
  • Smarter Than They Look: Elsie might be a ditzy understudy theatre girl, but she isn't dumb.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Prince Charles is uptight, Elsie is wild
  • You Are Grounded!: The Regent grounds his son (the King of Carpathia) on learning that he's put a clandestine call through to the German embassy.