A young American girl visits Paris accompanied by her fiancee and her wealthy uncle. There she meets and is romanced by a worldly novelist; what she doesn't know is that he is a blackmailer who is using her to get to her uncle.
A nurse loses her job after selflessly taking the blame for a fatal mistake her sister and co-worker made; she is subsequently employed at a poorly-equipped hospital, where she finds romance and tragedy.
A Swedish princess boards an ocean liner in Europe en route to an acting career in America, and finds herself getting inconveniently attached to a bandleader returning home. To complicate matters, a blackmailer on board apparently knows she is not who she claims to be - and he has his sights set on other passengers with secrets of their own. In the meantime an escaped killer has stowed away under someone else's identity, and is killing again to cover his tracks; five international police detectives on board are heading the investigation to find him. When evidence points to the princess and bandleader, they must find the killer themselves - before he finds them.Written by
George Raft initially was cast as Carole Lombard's co-star, but he walked off the set at the start of production. He objected to Ted Tetzlaff as the cinematographer because he felt Tetzlaff made Lombard look better than him in the previous film they did together. See more »
Take Terry McGovern. There was a fellow with a left hook. All he had to do was hit you in the chin and break every bone in your ankle.
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Kunstlerleben (Artist's Life), Op.316
Music by Johann Strauss
Played offscreen by a band on the ship See more »
THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS (Paramount, 1936), directed by William K. Howard, based on story by Philip MacDonald and adapted from novel by Louis Lucien Rogger, reunites Carole Lombard with Fred MacMurray in a worthy second offering following their initial screen pairing of HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE (1935). With shipboard stories quite a common course in movie theaters at that time, the narrative takes place mostly on board an ocean liner involving various characters, particularly its star attraction played by Carole Lombard. Talking like and attempting in various ways to imitate the famous Swedish born actress, Greta Garbo, Lombard doesn't do a Queen Christina but the guise of a fictional royal Swedish princess coming to America.
The plot begins in on deck in England as Captain Nicholls (George Barbier) of the transatlantic ocean liner, the S.S. Mammoth, awaits the arrival of her royal Princess Olga (Carole Lombard) of Sweden, accompanied by her lady-in-waiting, Gertrude Allwyn (Alison Skipworth), and soon greeted by newspaper reporters regarding her venture to Hollywood where she's set to star in a movie, "She Done Him Plenty." Before the ship sets sail across the Atlantic to New York City, the princess is escorted to her royal suite where she finds it occupied by bandleader, King Mantell (Fred MacMurray), and his assistant, Benton (William Frawley). At first, King refuses to give up the suite he had earlier reserved, but after one look at the princess convinces him to settle for a cabin instead. As concertina player Mantell becomes better acquainted with the princess, Captain Nicholls, in a meeting with the international police consisting of Inspector Cragg (Lumsden Hare) of Scotland Yard; Inspector Paul Lorel (Douglass Dumbrille) of France; Morevitch (Mischa Auer) of the Russian Police; Kawati (Tetsu Komai) of the Japanese Secret Service; and Steindorf (Sig Rumann) from Germany, he comes to learn that Paul Merkel, a killer and escaped convict from Devil's Island Prison, is believed to have stowed away and now hiding anywhere on board his ship. As a mysterious but slightly bearded stranger (Bradley Page) in trench coat comes sneaking about the unattended cabins and hiding around secluded places by night, Robert N. Darcy (Porter Hall), a noted blackmailer and confidence man, knowing the secretive past of both Mantell and the princess (Wanda Nash of Brooklyn), he threatens to expose them unless he gets paid off. Later Darcy is found dead inside the princess's royal suite.
As THE PRINCESS COME ACROSS starts off as a masquerade sort of comedy, the second half changes knots in mid ocean to murder mystery. Towards the near end of the story, MacMurray takes time singing the lyrics to the film's frequent underscoring to "My Concertina" as composed by Mack Gordon and Harry Revel, as he performs during the ship's entertainment dinner party that earlier consisted briefly of a young tap dancing sailor on stage.
A brisk 76 minute production, THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS is entertaining enough through the Lombard and MacMurray exchanges, but becomes more interesting wondering the identity of the killer on the loose on board ship and the method King Mantel does to expose the guilty party. William Frawley ads some moments of humor as one who lifts personal articles so to learn more about the person's identity, especially the princess, as well as gathering enough attention from passengers and a blinking cabin boy (Bennie Bartlett) while walking about with his beret. Alison Skipworth, nearly unrecognizable in her blonde wig, in fine support of the princess's companion. Film buffs will recognize some familiar faces in brief bits, including George Chandler (The Newsman); Dick Elliott and Milburn Stone.
Not as remembered as Lombard's other film roles as TWENTIETH CENTURY (1934) or MY MAN GODFREY (1936), the nearly forgotten THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS used to be one of Lombard's most televised movies, especially in the early 1970s, with four broadcasts in 1972 alone on New York City's WPIX, Channel 11, before being phased out from that station by 1973, where some years later was found to be broadcasting on other network and public television channels in the Metropolitan area. In later years, THE PRINCESS COME ACROSS became available to video cassette and later DVD, as well as cable television showings on American Movie Classics (1993-1994) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: August 17, 2006). A capable cast and tight-knit story should continue to keep THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS afloat. (***)
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