The Prince and the Showgirl (1957)
June, 1911. Among the dignitaries from the Balkan State of Carpathia in London for the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary is the Regent, His Serene Highness the Grand Duke Charles. The London foreign office places great importance on Carpathia because of an unstable geopolitical situation with Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany set to overthrow its monarchy government if allowed. The Regent, a Prince originally from Hungary, and the most recent and now deceased Queen married for convenience. As such, the Regent has spent time with a series of lady friends while on his travels in his somewhat "free" state. In meeting one of those London women, music hall actress Maisie Springfield, and the company of her current production "The Coconut Girl", the Regent instead has his eyes set on one of the minor players in the show, American actress Elsie Marina. When seemingly simpleminded Elsie receives a party invitation from the Regent for that evening, Elsie is not so simpleminded to understand the implications when she learns upon her arrival at the Carpathian Embassy where the Regent and the Carpathian entourage are staying that the party is just for two. On the Regent's relatively short stay in London, he and Elsie go through a series of feelings in their relationship, where the Regent just wants to have some fun, while Elsie doesn't mind fun within a proper context, which means no dinners for two without some formal getting to know each other period. Elsie gets caught up in the diplomatic and geopolitical side of the issues when she inadvertently meets the other two royal members of the Carpathian entourage. The first is the Queen Dowager, the Regent's mother-in-law, who isn't as hard of hearing as she lets on in the carrying out of her duties. The second is Nicholas VIII, the sixteen year old current King and the Regent's son, who will take over official duties when he becomes of age in eighteen months, and who, unlike his father, is sympathetic both to the democratic process in wanting free elections in Carpathia and to the Germans to who he is related on his mother's side. All these goings-on make for a difficult few days for Northbrook, the foreign office's envoy who has just temporarily taken over this file.
When Grandduke Charles, the prince-regent of Carpathia, a fictitious Balkan country which could start a European war by switching alliances, visits London for the coronation of the new British King in 1911, and spends his one evening off at the Coconut Girl Club, the reputed stickler for protocol is so charmed by a clumsy American understudy that he orders his British attaché to invite her to the embassy for a private supper. Being overlooked and understanding German, she learns of the repressive attitude of the regent and the plans of his reformist, pro-German minor son, King Nicholas, to take over power by surprise, but doesn't dodge and tries to reconcile father and son. The queen-dowager decides to make her lady-in-waiting for the coronation day, so she stays in the picture to everyone else's surprise.
An American showgirl becomes entangled in political intrigue when the prince regent of a foreign country attempts to seduce her.
- Firstly, the picture as shown above doesn't accurately represent the film's characters' costumes. Secondly the plot summary as written left out a few key points, I feel.
While the Grand Duke is charmed by her clumsiness, it is not for altruistic or moral purposes that he invites her to the embassy.. but rather immoral ones of a carnal nature which she predicts and then rebuffs. Seeing that there is more to him than meets the eyes... she decides to hold all the proverbial cards to fix what she can fix and falls in love with him in the process and he with her, or rather her abilities in showing him about love. The queen mum invites her to be a lady in waiting for a day, much to the chagrin of the Grand Duke and the his son invites her to the coronation ball .. also much to the chagrin of the Grand Duke. But her unwavering honesty and insistance on staying true to her American upbringing and forcing him to declare what he REALLY wants .... love ... causes the Duke to develop feelings that he's never felt before, "I've been positively giddy". When he wants to give her more.. she sees that it would never work in their two different worlds and steps back from the brass ring he is offering her. Great film. Great showcasing of Marilyn Monroe. I think, too, that it showcased what she was wanting vs how she was perceived. The american public has been playing the role of the Grand Duke during this entire love affair with her. To quote another sex symbol/star Rita Hayworth ... "they go to bed with Gilda but wake up to Rita Hayworth".