Balkan Prince Henry has two wishes, to meet Lauren Bacall and see the "real" America. He befriends cabbie Buzz Williams and, without knowing the microphone is live, the two stage a debate ...
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Frederick De Cordova
Balkan Prince Henry has two wishes, to meet Lauren Bacall and see the "real" America. He befriends cabbie Buzz Williams and, without knowing the microphone is live, the two stage a debate on democracy versus monarchy broadcast back to the Prince's homeland. A plebiscite there puts Henry out of a job. Flying to MIlwaukee to become a beer salesman, he meets Bacall on the seat next to his, but a tap on his shoulder means he must give up his seat (and dream) to Bogie. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
An 'A' script wasted on a 'B' picture, but very amusing nevertheless
This film could have been a classic, because the script by I.A.L. ('Iz') Diamond is first rate. But as it was only his second film, and he had no clout, Warner Brothers threw it away on a B picture directed by an inferior director, David Butler, with a low budget, and a B cast, in which Jack Carson's bad acting made it all a mess. There are sub-texts to this film which few viewers could suspect unless they knew a great deal of background. The story concerns the visit to America of a prince of a Balkan country, whose fate as future king is about to be decided by plebiscite. Although the fate of the Italian monarchy was being decided at this time, the real satirical target of Diamond's script was Romania. Diamond was a Romanian Jew born in Romania, and knew more than a thing or two about Balkan monarchies and their reception in America. Queen Marie of Romania, a contemporary of Diamond's, was the most rapturously received royal visitor the United States ever had until Princess Diana came along. In this satirical tale, the visiting prince, very well played by Dennis Morgan, wants to escape royal protocol and discover what real American life is like. He becomes a 'guy from Milwaukee', along with a real one, a cab driver from Brooklyn played by Carson. Prince Henry (Morgan) eats his first hamburger, falls in love rather quickly with an all-American girl (Joan Leslie, who does an excellent job), and ends up siding with democracy instead of monarchy. Much excellent political satire in the script is completely lost in the film which resulted. S. Z. Sakall is most amusing as the prince's equerry. Diamond gives plenty of reign to the part of a charming little girl, who gets many of the best lines in the film, played by Patti Brady, aged nine. However, all these brilliant touches are wasted in the B film ambiance and because of the total and deadly lack of inspiration of the director. Throughout the film, a constant obsessive thread runs, which is the prince's crush on Lauren Bacall. This is more than just an inside joke, as Bacall was herself of Romanian Jewish descent, like Diamond, so that there is a lot more to all this than meets the eye, and Diamond was bringing in various favourite subjects and people without anyone knowing the background or reasons. Diamond was later to become famous for writing 'Some Like it Hot', 'The Apartment' (for which he won a well-deserved Oscar), and many other famous films. This could have been on the list of his triumphs, but it was written too soon. The film is very funny nevertheless, with some great lines, not always well delivered. You have to imagine the film as it should have been while you watch this.
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