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On a visit to a spa in the Ruritanian Kingdom of Tyronia, American financier Richard Gresham meets the country's ruler, King Anatol XII, and convinces him that he could arrange for $50 million dollars in loans to benefit his impoverished nation if the king's charming daughter could do reciprocal public relations in the States. Unfortunately Princess Catterina falls ill with the mumps and is quarantined for a month aboard ship. Rather than risk having his very lucrative endorsement deal fall through, Gresham hires out-of-work lookalike actress Nancy Lane to impersonate Catterina. Complications arise when she falls in love with investigative reporter Porter Madison, who is looking into Nancy Lane's disappearance. She tries to maintain the precariously delicate balance of playing the two parts convincingly with both the loan and her heart at stake. Written by
One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
A different Sturges take on "The Lady Eve" premise
"Thirty Day Princess" can easily fit into the oeuvre of master comedy writer Preston Sturges although this film predates his 1940 directorial debut by six years. The basic comic premise of one woman impersonating two very different people on opposite ends of the social scale (while convincing the man she's romantically involved with that they are different people) is difficult material to bring off. Within that context Sturges inserts his unique satiric sensibilities on sex and social mores.
Sylvia Sydney, like Barbara Stanwyck seven years later in Sturges' wildly successful "The Lady Eve," succeeds admirably in using accent and mannerisms to distinguish the two characters. Additionall, both talented actresses have the chameleon-like ability to actually look different in both roles without resorting to any major make-up changes. Unfortunately, Cary Grant, at this stage of his career, had not as yet developed his screen persona to a degree that he could capture as much of the Sturges zaniness that Henry Fonda did in the 1941 film.
While Sidney is portraying two completely different people in "Thirty Day Princes," the audience in "The Lady Eve" knows that Barbara Stanwyck's character is essentially playing two different facets of her own personality. so the similarities in her two roles are dramatically plausible. Although it is highly improbable that Sidney's characters, Nancy Lane and Princess Catterina, could look so much alike under ordinary circumstances, Sturges inserts a sly bit of covert sexual innuendo at the film's climax with a subtle dialogue exchange between Nancy and King Anatole suggesting that she possibly is the King's illegitimate daughter, illegitimately sired during a previous trip to America. Sturges was a master at getting questionable material like this discreetly past the censors of his day.
Stealing the show, however, is character actor Vince Barnett, usually assigned to play low level gangsters and bumbling waiters, as Catterina's obnoxiously infantile fiancé, Prince Nicholeus. He delivers a hilarious performance, alternating accents from Mittel-English Ruritanian to Brooklynese. Considering Sturgis' loyalty to eccentric character actors during his heyday at Paramount, it seems unusual that he would not have written additional roles for Barnett in his series of screwball comedies in the early 40's as Barnett did occasionally turn up in Paramount films like Bob Hope's 1942 MY FAVORITE BLONDE.
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