Airing on TCM September 28 at 8 AM EST
“The Prince and the Showgirl” couldn’t star two more different actors. Laurence Olivier, who also directed the film, was a classical actor renowned for his enactments of Shakespeare’s plays. Marilyn Monroe was a blonde bombshell who had studied the Method way of acting. Fortunately, they managed to persevere through the making of this movie, and the result is a charming little comedy in which Olivier plays the Prince Regent of a European country (a part he had played before in the stage version opposite wife Vivien Leigh), with Monroe as Elsie, the showgirl the Prince asks to dine with him. She wants love; he wants a temporary companion. Naturally, Elsie gets mixed up in some political intrigue during her time with the Prince, and proves she is smarter than he thought.
Production on “The Prince and the Showgirl” was made difficult largely because of Monroe, who rarely arrived to set on time, required multiple takes to get a line out, and often consulted her acting coach, much to Olivier’s chagrin. Monroe unfortunately suffered from several illnesses during filming, including a miscarriage. Still, tensions ran high between the two actors, so much so that Olivier didn’t direct another movie until 1970 because he was supposedly so shaken by the whole experience. The 2011 movie “My Week with Marilyn” offers a glimpse into the difficult production on “The Prince and the Showgirl” and Monroe’s personal struggles, all based on the memoirs of crew member Colin Clark.
But watching the movie, you would never be able to tell that there was anything abnormal going on off-camera. Monroe is lovely as Elsie; her character is a little naïve but never dumb, and exhibits an admirable understanding of the people she comes in contact with. Perhaps in real life, the often misunderstood Monroe had a similar personality.
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