When his bride-to-be finds him much too stiff, heir to the throne Prince Karl is sent off to the university in Heidelberg to learn how to socialize. He makes friends with the students there and falls for the down-to-earth Kathie, a barmaid. The two are soul mates, but when Karl's grandfather the king falls ill, he must choose between his country and his own happiness... Written by
In August 1952 Mario Lanza recorded the soundtrack. The whole recording was done in single takes. Every phrase in it was Lanza magic at its best. However, on the film set things were not to go well at all. The first scene to be shot was the song "Beloved" on the terrace. Director Curtis Bernhardt did not like the way the song was sung and corrected Lanza, telling him that he was putting too much emotion in his singing instead of sounding more stuffy and rigid like a Prussian prince. Lanza informed Bernhardt that he was to direct only his acting, and that Lanza's singing was strictly Lanza's department. Bernhardt would not accept this, and Lanza would not be told how to sing by a movie director. The end result was that Lanza walked off the set and vowed not to return as long as Bernhardt was the director. The studio took an injunction against Lanza for damages and losses. He could not perform in public, on radio, or in the recording studio for the remaining time of his contract with MGM (which was then 15 months). A solution was reached in May 1953: the studio would remove the embargo on Lanza if he would allow his voice to be used while another actor played the part of the prince. This was agreed to and the filming got under way with Edmund Purdom lip-synching Lanza, which he did marvelously. The irony is that when the film was finally made, the director was no longer Bernhardt, but Richard Thorpe, who had worked harmoniously with Lanza on The Great Caruso (1951). See more »
A student prince falls in love with a lowly barmaid...
THE STUDENT PRINCE should have been a lot better. After all, it's based on a famous operetta with music by Sigmund Romberg, features the golden voice of Mario Lanza at his singing peak, is cast with competent enough MGM players, and is filmed in glorious Technicolor.
But something happened--the uninspired Richard Thorpe was chosen to direct (Vincente Minnelli, where were you???) and the result is a tedious, slow-paced musical with stagebound sets and much of the Romberg score either missing or drastically altered with the insertion of two new songs (which, by the way, aren't bad at all). One of them, BELOVED, is sung with great feeling and style by Mario.
Lanza was at a difficult stage of his career by the time THE STUDENT PRINCE was set to roll, and his temperament and weight problems made it impossible for the studio to let him play the lead, even after he'd recorded all of the songs. EDMUND PURDOM, a relatively unknown newcomer, was given the chance to step in and, in all fairness to Purdom, it must be said that he does a commendable enough job in the acting department and does the lip-sync thing with professional results (he's right up there with Larry Parks in that department!) ANN BLYTH, never a particular favorite of mine, does her own singing with a pleasant soprano voice but is less than satisfying as the barmaid. She looks much too sophisticated and stylish for her lowly status to be believable and is rather arch and patronizing in her attitudes.
The rest of the cast isn't handed the best of material but they do workmanlike jobs with it: EDMUND GWENN, LOUIS CALHERN, JOHN ERICSON, S.Z. SAKALL and EVELYN ARDEN--but the extensive faults lie with the limp direction unable to give any luster to the proceedings. And the soundstage look for outdoor scenes doesn't help.
Worth hearing (if not watching) for Lanza alone on some delightful Romberg songs. His soundtrack recording of the music was a big seller and it's easy to understand why.
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