Psychological narrative avantgarde film about a wealthy young businessman who consecutively falls in love with a classy English woman (Pearl), a Russian sculptress (Athalia), and a naive ... See full summary »
Young Prince Karl Heinrich has spent his entire life behind the palace gates protected from the world. He has been raised in a melancholy atmosphere of strict discipline and duty, yet he often looks out at the frolics of youths and maidens who live beyond the walls. When he passes his exams, Karl is sent to Heidelberg to complete his studies. It is a heady new world of brew, song, and comradeship. Karl falls in love with Kathi, a pretty barmaid, and she reciprocates. But can the love survive their disparate backgrounds? Will Karl ever find happiness or will duty deny it to him? Written by
Thomas McWilliams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Freed from the strictures of the Karlsburg royal palace to attend University, THE STUDENT PRINCE IN OLD HEIDELBERG experiences true love for the first time.
This wonderful, exuberant, heartbreaking film - one of the last major movies of the Silent Era - is a scintillating example of the artistry of director Ernst Lubitsch. Filled with wry humor & aching pathos, Lubitsch tells a tale which is a persuasive paean to the power of the talkless film.
MGM had great faith in this movie & gave it excellent production values, with crowds of extras and picture-perfect sets & costumes. Based in part on the Wilhelm Meyer-Förster novel & the operetta by Sigmund Romberg, the film revels in romanticism.
Ramon Novarro, always eager to please his audience, brings great charm to the title role. Although about 10 years too old to be playing a typical university freshman, he nonetheless brings tremendous enthusiasm to the role. It was this essential boyishness which encouraged MGM to continue giving him roles which were too young for him (in 1932's HUDDLE he would play a Yale freshman). The Studio also insisted on giving their Mexican star a wide range of ethnic parts, everything from Chinese to Arab. He played them all well, but none better than here in STUDENT PRINCE. It is a shame that Hollywood would not reciprocate by giving him topnotch assignments.
Norma Shearer is radiant as Kathi, the vivacious & lovely barmaid who is beloved by the Prince. She gives a wonderful performance in what was considered a breakthrough role for her. She married MGM executive Irving Thalberg the same year STUDENT PRINCE was released and her stardom at the Studio was firmly established. She earned her celebrity through hard work and honest talent, however, not by noodling with the boss.
Jean Hersholt, as the Prince's gentle tutor, puts his own stamp on the kind of sympathetic role with which he would become associated. Miles removed from his villainous portrayals in TESS OF THE STORM COUNTRY (1922) or GREED (1925), Hersholt here is the very embodiment of benevolence.
Gustav von Seyffertitz as the cold King, Edmund Connelly as the stern Prime Minister & Bobby Mack as an old rustic retainer all add very fine support. Movie mavens will recognize Lionel Belmore as a boisterous student & Charles K. Arthur as a drowsy inebriate, both unbilled.
Carl Davis supplied one of his typically bravura scores for the home video reissue of the film. He conducts the English Chamber Orchestra.
While Karlsburg is a fictitious Teutonic kingdom, Heidelberg is a very real city located in the German state of Baden-Württemberg. As ancient capital of the Rhenish Palatinate, its electoral counts - always a branch of the Wittelsbach royal family of Bavaria - played a significant role in the history of both the Holy Roman Empire and Central Europe. Although originally Roman Catholic, political vicissitudes brought about a change to Protestantism centuries ago. Heidelberg University was founded in 1386 by Count Rupert I & chartered the same year by Pope Urban VI. After a period of dissolution, it was revitalized in the 19th Century as a center of the sciences, law & philosophy. Town & gown are both overlooked by Heidelberg Castle, one of Europe's mightiest fortresses, where it sits on its hill 330 feet above the Neckar River. Its cellars contains the fabled Heidelberg Tun, a prodigious 18th Century wine cask capable of holding 49,000 gallons - surely a source of wonder to the Student Prince & his classmates...
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