A tiny European country which for years has survived financially only through evading its bills and smuggling is finally facing bankruptcy, when a rich American agrees to save the place by buying it. But before, the deal is closed, he dies. His nearest relative and heir turns out to be a young woman with high ethical and democratic standards, but no experience with money, or affairs of state, or Europe. A charming young English visitor helps her to muddle through. Comedy and romance follow. Written by
Yolande Donlan is a "Penny Princess" in this 1952 British musical also starring Dirk Bogarde. It's a cute premise - an American shopgirl, Lindy Smith, ends up inheriting a tiny country, Lampidorra, which has kept itself going by smuggling. Facing bankruptcy, part of the country is purchased by the Lindy's distant relative, who dies before forking over any cash. Lindy is brought over and given the royal welcome. She forbids smuggling, and the country begins to import schneese, a special kind of cheese they have taken for granted.
The movie is just okay, but quite good in the beginning, dragging a bit thereafter. "It's a Fine, Fine Night," one of the songs, apparently was released as a single, though the music throughout is just serviceable.
The American Donlan is attractive and likable, a cross between Judy Holliday and Janet Leigh. In fact, she was a big hit on the British stage in Holliday's Broadway role of Billie Dawn in "Born Yesterday." After that, she stayed on in England, and two years after this film, she married its writer/director, Val Guest, to whom she was married until his death in 2006. She's now 89 years old. She appears in Guest's 1963 film "80,000 Suspects" and is not recognizable in looks or acting as the same woman. She obviously had a lot of talent and a wide range.
It's hard to imagine anyone less suited to comedy than Dirk Bogarde, even young Dirk Bogarde, unless it's Montgomery Clift, but this role went to Bogarde after both Clift and Cary Grant refused it! He plays a cheese vendor who becomes involved with both the princess and the product schneese. And he's very cute.
The film was done on location in Spain. It's not very good, but Clift looks great in pajamas. And it's in color.
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