Okay, first of all, I know the legendary actor’s name as well as anyone – Sir Laurence Olivier. Many people (I’m not among them I’m afraid) consider him to be the greatest actor of all time. Don’t get me wrong, he was magnificent and I certainly believe he is “one” of the best ever… even if I hesitate to give him the title “the best.”
The man’s name is synonymous with fine acting and for good reason.
Oddly enough, however, the name Marilyn Monroe is synonymous with beauty and sex appeal (again, for good reason) but it’s the rare bird who’d associate her with good acting, let alone great acting.
I’m the rarest of birds.
Marilyn Monroe was so much more than just a beautiful face. Some was good (her intelligence, beauty, and talent) and some was horrible (apparently she was notorious for holding up and inconveniencing others on set and let’s not even get into the whole JFK fiasco). Her intelligence led to her ability to bring so much to each character she portrayed. She simply knew what each character would feel and how they would react to everything and everyone around them.
The Prince and the Showgirl is one of my personal favorite Marilyn Monroe performances, which kind of sucks because Laurence Olivier’s performance makes me cringe. I understand he’s portraying royalty, here, but I’d have preferred royalty with a pulse!
The performance is one of my least favorites in any movie, to be honest. Leslie Howard in Gone With the Wind is right up there too. The thought of both characters being appealing to ANYONE is hard to buy into.. and yet both characters had beautiful ladies fawning over them.
Somehow, in spite of a lackluster, stiff performance by one of the greatest actors of all-time, The Prince and The Showgirl is still a pretty cute and enjoyable movie. It is, of course, primarily thanks to MM and her adorable portrayal of the “showgirl.” In fact, the entire rest of the cast did a fine job – even those who had only one or two scenes.
I’ve read that MM and LO did not get along at all – he took all kinds of exception to her consistent tardiness and “moods.” I don’t want to believe that this affected his performance, however, because he was the very definition of a professional. Their relationship actually makes me want to read “The Prince, the Showgirl, and Me: Six Months on the Set With Marilyn and Olivier” by Colin Clark.
Book Description: When Colin Clark left college in the 1950s, he got a job as a gofer on the set of the movie The Prince and the Showgirl, starring Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier. The film should have been a box office smash, but even before cameras rolled, things began going wrong–and Clark recorded it all in this beguiling, fly-on-the-wall diary.
New and used copies are available on Amazon, so I’m going to order one SOON.
I recently re-watched The Prince and The Showgirl and came away with the same thing I think each time…. “Why is he making his character so painful to watch?!?! Is he trying to win her over or bore her to tears?!”
Marilyn is so fun, lively, and energetic – she makes the screen sizzle and pop when she’s on it. Then, here he comes.
If you’ve never seen the movie, I hope you’ll watch it soon and see what you think. As I’ve said a million times, old movies and old performances are worth watching even when we don’t love or even like them. There’s always something good or worthwhile about every single movie and in this particular movie, MM and a very strong, lively cast make it worth watching.
In spite of that one.