Laurence Olivier Philip T. Hartung - Essay

Anthony Holden

Philip T. Hartung

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier evidently thought Terence Rattigan's play, "The Sleeping Prince," worthy of their talents as producers. But Rattigan's thin little comedy, about an American chorus girl who stirs an aging and stodgy Carpathian grand duke into action, although a great hit in London, created little interest in New York. The movie, with a script written by Rattigan, does afford the two leads plenty of opportunity to display their individual abilities and they make the most of them. "The Prince and the Showgirl", as the film is called, is still pretty slight; and even under Laurence Olivier's capable direction, the jokes and situations strain to be naughty and funny. As a Technicolor reproduction of 1911 London, the film is pleasant, especially when it moves out of the Belgrave Square living room of the Prince…. But the audience is always ahead of this meager plot about the chorus girl who expected gypsy violins when she was sent to entertain this visiting grand duke and who got instead a somewhat stuffy prince. (p. 303)

Philip T. Hartung, "Boys into Men—and Other Fables," in Commonweal (copyright © 1957 Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.; reprinted by permission of Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. LXVI, No. 12, June 21, 1957, pp. 303-04.∗