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When an accident obliterates the British royal family and most of its branches, a desperate geneological search discovers the next king: Ralph, a sleazy American lounge singer. Can Ralph measure up to the job, even with the help of loyal aristocrat Willingham? Written by
Though this film got trashed in a lot of circles, I rather like it if for no other reasons than it gives Americans some notion of the function of the monarchy in Great Britain.
Sometimes having the head of state and the head of government does have its bad points. Watergate for instance might have not been the gut wrenching experience if in America we were a parliamentary democracy with a royal head of state. Richard Nixon would have been put up for a "no confidence" vote and out he would have been without all the drama.
Drama on the other side of the Atlantic is saved for the Royals. This film might give an American some idea of what the abdication crisis was all about. John Goodman as the American born King has his own Mrs. Simpson.
In fact how he got to the throne is quite the tale. On some grand occasion the extended royal family got together for what looks like a team picture like they take in spring training of the various baseball rosters. Someone left a loose electrical cable dangling on the metal bleachers and the whole lot of them were electrocuted.
Genealogists poured through the Windham family tree and found some member had renounced it all and gone to America. The heir of that forgotten branch is John Goodman, Ralph Jones who does a lounge act in Las Vegas and not in classier joints in Las Vegas.
Of course the free and easy and thoroughly American Goodman doesn't take readily to his new found job. He can't quite comprehend that he has to serve as well as be served. And he has the same problem the Duke of Windsor had when he was briefly Edward VIII. With a lot more excuse since Windsor was brought up in the tradition.
Peter O'Toole as the lord who tries to give him some on the job training and John Hurt who has his own reasons for wanting Goodman to flop both give stand out performances. Best scene the palace ball for Goodman's prospective bride when Goodman does his lounge act.
It's a funny film and in its own way educational. The Duke of Windsor should have seen it. His duty would have been clear.
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