By combining the light comic skills of Monroe and the grand acting ability of Olivier, THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL manages to succeed not only as pleasant entertainment but also as a wonderful mixture of two very different screen personalities. It's 1911 in London, and Monroe plays a flighty American showgirl who catches the eye of the prince regent of Carpathia, Olivier, who is in town for the coronation of George V.
Produced and directed by Olivier and financed by Monroe's newly formed production company (she reportedly was to receive a phenomenal 75 percent of the profits), THE PRINCE AND THE SHOWGIRL shows both actors in fine form. Monroe--in this, her 25th picture--had turned 30 and was as beautiful as ever, delivering a comic performance which is among her very finest. Olivier had already familiarized himself with the role on the British stage in the Rattigan play "The Sleeping Prince," which costarred his miscast wife, Vivien Leigh. Initially Rattigan had expressed reservations about having an actor of Olivier's stature playing a character the author had envisioned as a mundane bureaucrat. But Rattigan needn't have worried; after much ballyhoo in the press, the play opened to rave reviews. What's more, the casting of Monroe in place of Leigh brought the film a remarkable balance between two of film's most arresting screen personalities.