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
Comedy, con, romance, music and mystery on the high seas
This second pairing of Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray packs a lot into 76 minutes. It's the least funny of their three comedies, but that's because the humor has to share time with crime and a murder mystery. "The Princess Comes Across" is a mixed genre of comedy, a con caper, murder mystery, and romance, with a good dose of music as well. It's a bit too much to pack into 76 minutes and expect a film to be outstanding or exceptional.
Still, it's entertaining and fun to watch. Lombard assumes a Greta Garbo role with a Swedish-English accent, playing a fake Princess Olga. And, MacMurray, as King Mantell, uses some of his musical talent singing with a concertina and his band. Much of the humor comes from their sidekicks. Alison Skipworth plays Lady Gertrude, companion of the princess, and William Frawley is Mantell's cohort, Benton.
But, there's crime aboard their ship in this film. And the stars share screen time with a band of international detectives. Those sleuths and other lesser roles are played very well by some of the leading supporting actors of the era. Sig Ruman, Porter Hall and Mischa Auer are especially good in their roles. This film just doesn't have as much snappy dialog, witty script and clever zingers that other films have. But the plot is good and the mystery adds a twist to the usual script of comedy-romance and music for such films of the 1930s. Both stars are exceptionally adept at truly great comedy, and they show some of the range of their acting talents here.
Here are some favorite lines from the film. For more dialog, see the Quotes section under this IMDb Web page of the movie.
Chief Purser (Edward Keane), "There are five important police officials aboard, sir." Captain, "Police?" Chief Purser, "They're sailing for an international convention of detectives in New York. Would you like to have them at your table, sir?" Captain, "I don't even want them on my ship. They're troublemakers. Jinxes. I'd rather be followed by a seagull flying upside down. I've seen it happen again and again. Trouble's their business. They love it so much, it follows them around."
Lady Gertrude, "Now I know he's no good. My dear, I am an old woman. I have traveled at home and abroad. And never, never have I known any good to come out of a concertina."
Princess Olga, "You enjoyed the cocktails, didn't you?" Lady Gertrude, "Oh, the first five or six. After that I was bored."
Benton, "King. I just saw Darcy go into the royal suite." King Mantell, "Yeah? Are you sure it was Darcy?" Benton, "Sure. Rats like that don't come in pairs."
Benton, "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."
King Mantell, "If you're ever in any kind of trouble, you can count on me." Princess Olga, "Oh, why do you think I should be in any trouble?" King Mantell, "Oh, I dunno. This is a strange ship, and there are some very odd people aboard." Princess Olga, "Ja, and the oddest of them all is you."
Lady Gertrude, "Thank heaven this day is over. Such a crowd, my dear. I don't mind people stepping on my feet, but I do object to their loitering there."
Lady Gertrude "Oh, my stars and garters."
Benton, "I'm saving this page for your obituary notice. I can see it now. 'King Mantell Gets Himself Bumped Off for a Dame.'"
Princess Olga, "Well, if you really know who the murderer is, why don't you tell them now?" King Mantell, "I would if I knew. The point is I don't." Princess Olga, "Then why did you say you did?" King Mantell, "Because to catch a rat you have to have cheese." Princess Olga, "I don't get it." King Mantell, "I'm the cheese. When the rat comes to nibble, bang goes the trap." Princess Olga, "With the cheese in it." King Mantell, "Not if it's a smart piece of cheese."
Benton, "I'll stick around, all right, but I ain't no Charlie Chan. When I'm picking that guy's sewing kit out of your back, don't say I didn't tell you, that's all."
Benton, "I don't know why you want to trade your concertina for a harp."
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