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Princess Beatrice's days of enjoying the regal life are numbered unless her only daughter, Princess Alexandra, makes a good impression on a distant cousin when he pays a surprise visit to their palace. Prince Albert has searched all over Europe for a bride and he's bored by the whole courtship routine. He is more interested in the estate's dairy than Alexandra's rose garden. And then he starts playing football with the tutor and Alexandra's brothers. Invite the tutor to the ball that night and watch how gracefully Alexandra dances with him. Written by
Dale O'Connor <email@example.com>
[very perturbed about Prince Albert spending much of the day observing mechanized milking machines in the estate's dairy barn]
I should think that machine is quite worn out, say nothing of the cows.
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Swans are beautiful, elegant creatures. So who better to portray the human embodiment of a swan than the beautiful, elegant Grace Kelly? Our story unfolds in 1910 with Kelly playing young Princess Alexandra, a minor royal in some fictional European nation. Her family's fortune has faded and her mother desperately desires for Alexandra to marry the heir to the throne, Prince Albert, and thus restore her family to the throne they lost. Prince Albert is Alexandra's cousin but don't mind that because marrying your cousin was quite the royal thing to do at the time. As it turns out Albert is a bit of an odd duck. He has rejected many potential brides and now he has come to call on Alexandra to see if perhaps she is the one. But the prince's social awkwardness sinks this romance before it ever starts. Alexandra isn't exactly warm and loving either, a bit of an ice princess. As the would-be romance founders Alexandra's desperate mother hatches a plot.
The mother urges her daughter to show an interest in Nicholas, who tutors Alexandra's younger brothers. Nicholas is a nice enough guy, but a commoner, certainly not a real romantic possibility for a princess. He is just to be used to hopefully make Prince Albert jealous. But Nicholas doesn't know this. He's been carrying a torch for Alexandra all along and now he thinks he's got his big chance. Complications ensue, suffice to say things don't really go according to plan for anyone involved. At least here the drama picks up a bit, prior to this the film had been a little bit flat and mundane. While there are some decent comedic moments sprinkled throughout there aren't nearly enough laughs to make the film work as a comedy. So for the film to succeed the story has to really grab you. The drama has to be compelling and for much of the film it is really not. Kelly is terrific in a role which suits her perfectly. And Alec Guinness is reliably excellent in playing Prince Albert. But just as the romance between their two characters never sparks to life so too does the movie lack a certain energy. A reasonably engaging, enjoyable film but it leaves you wanting more. The film's somewhat surprising conclusion is a bit of a letdown as well. At least that ending provides an explanation for why Alexandra is thought of as a swan. The comparison between the beautiful bird and the beautiful woman works well. The movie as a whole does not work nearly as perfectly. A great vehicle for the lovely Kelly, with some good work from Guinness and Louis Jourdan, playing the tutor, as well. But the excellent performers could have done so much more had they had a more engrossing story to work with. Kelly is so good, and so radiant, that it is worth seeing the film for her alone. You're just left wishing the film had a little bit more to offer.
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