The Prince and the Showgirl
The Prince and the Showgirl is a 1957 American film produced at Pinewood Studios
Pinewood Studios
Pinewood Studios is a major British film studio situated in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, approximately west of central London. The studios have played host to many productions over the years from huge blockbuster films to television shows to commercials to pop promos.The purchase of Shepperton...

 starring Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s....

 and co-starring Laurence Olivier
Laurence Olivier
Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

 who also served as director and producer.

The film was released on 13 June 1957. It was written by Terence Rattigan
Terence Rattigan
Sir Terence Mervyn Rattigan CBE was one of England's most popular 20th-century dramatists. His plays are generally set in an upper-middle-class background...

 who based the script on his play The Sleeping Prince.

The story of the making of the film is the basis for the 2011 film My Week with Marilyn
My Week with Marilyn
My Week with Marilyn is a British drama film directed by Simon Curtis and written by Adrian Hodges. It stars Michelle Williams, Kenneth Branagh, Eddie Redmayne, Dougray Scott, Judi Dench and Emma Watson. Based on two books by Colin Clark, it depicts the making of the 1957 film The Prince and the...



The film is set in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in June 1911. George V will be crowned king on 22 June and in the preceding days many of the most important dignitaries arrive. Among those arriving are King Nicholas of Carpathia
Carpathia can refer to various things:*RMS Carpathia was a steamship, notable for its role in the rescue of survivors from the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912*Carpathian Mountains, part of a mountain range in Europe...

 and the regent
A regent, from the Latin regens "one who reigns", is a person selected to act as head of state because the ruler is a minor, not present, or debilitated. Currently there are only two ruling Regencies in the world, sovereign Liechtenstein and the Malaysian constitutive state of Terengganu...

, Prince Charles.

The British government realises Carpathia is critical to the tension in Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and to gain favour with them would be wise. They find it necessary to pamper the royals during their stay in London, and thus civil servant Northbrook is detached to their service. Northbrook decides to take the Prince Regent out to the musical performance The Coconut Girl. During the interval the Prince Regent is taken backstage to meet the cast. He is particularly interested in Elsie Marina, one of the performers, and invites her to the embassy for supper.

Elsie arrives at the embassy and is soon joined by the Prince Regent. She expects a party but quickly realises the Prince's true intentions; she is persuaded not to leave by Northbrook, who promises to provide an excuse for her later. While the Prince and Elsie are trying to have a quiet supper there are many interruptions. Later on, the Prince makes a pass at Elsie which she, giggling with the effect of spirits they have been drinking, refuses. She explains how disappointed she was that he isn't more romantic and the Prince latches onto this, changing his tactics. The two eventually kiss and Elsie admits she may be falling in love, but she passes out from the drink. The Prince places her in an adjoining bedroom to stay the night.

The following day, Elsie overhears a conversation concerning the young Nicolas plotting to overthrow his father. Promising not to tell, Elsie then meets the Queen Mother
Queen mother
Queen Mother is a title or position reserved for a widowed queen consort whose son or daughter from that marriage is the reigning monarch. The term has been used in English since at least 1577...

, who decides she should join them for the coronation in place of her oversized lady-in-waiting
A lady-in-waiting is a female personal assistant at a royal court, attending on a queen, a princess, or a high-ranking noblewoman. Historically, in Europe a lady-in-waiting was often a noblewoman from a family highly thought of in good society, but was of lower rank than the woman on whom she...

. The ceremony passes and afterwards Elsie refuses to tell the Prince Regent details of the treasonous plot, but during the Coronation
Coronation of the British monarch
The coronation of the British monarch is a ceremony in which the monarch of the United Kingdom is formally crowned and invested with regalia...

Ball (dance)
A ball is a formal dance. The word 'ball' is derived from the Latin word "ballare", meaning 'to dance'; the term also derived into "bailar", which is the Spanish and Portuguese word for dance . In Catalan it is the same word, 'ball', for the dance event.Attendees wear evening attire, which is...

 (to which she was invited by Nicholas) she manages to persuade Nicholas to draw up a contract in which he confesses his and the Germans' intent, but only if the Prince agrees to a general election. The Prince Regent is impressed and realizes that he has fallen in love with Elsie. The morning after the Coronation Ball, Elsie manages to iron out the differences between father and son.

The next day the Carpathians must leave to return home. Elsie is invited by the Prince Regent to come with them, but she stays to fulfill her stage obligations and to allow him to fulfill his political obligations. The Prince Regent suggests that she join them in Carpathia after the end of her contract. The film ends with a possible meeting in 18 months' time, when the Prince Regent is free of his obligations and she is free of hers.


  • Marilyn Monroe
    Marilyn Monroe
    Marilyn Monroe was an American actress, singer, model and showgirl who became a major sex symbol, starring in a number of commercially successful motion pictures during the 1950s....

     as Elsie Marina. Elsie is a young showgirl
    A showgirl is a dancer or performer in a stage entertainment show. Showgirl is also often used as a term for a promotional model in trade fairs and car shows, etc...

     who is noticed by the Prince Regent, and asked around to the Carpathian embassy for supper. This was one of the few parts that Monroe played outside 20th Century Fox.
  • Laurence Olivier
    Laurence Olivier
    Laurence Kerr Olivier, Baron Olivier, OM was an English actor, director, and producer. He was one of the most famous and revered actors of the 20th century. He married three times, to fellow actors Jill Esmond, Vivien Leigh, and Joan Plowright...

     as Charles, the Prince Regent of Carpathia. He is a stickler for formality and, despite his wealth and position, is very lonely. He invites Elsie Marina to the Embassy for supper.
  • Sybil Thorndike
    Sybil Thorndike
    Dame Agnes Sybil Thorndike CH DBE was a British actress.-Early life:She was born in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire to Arthur Thorndike and Agnes Macdonald. Her father was a Canon of Rochester Cathedral...

     as The Queen Dowager
    Queen Dowager
    A queen dowager or dowager queen is a title or status generally held by the widow of a deceased king. In the case of the widow of a deceased emperor, the title of empress dowager is used...

    . The Queen is quite deaf and does not always understand the events around her. She has some very witty conversations with Elsie. Thorndike was a veteran British actress of the stage.
  • Richard Wattis
    Richard Wattis
    Richard Cameron Wattis , was an English character actor.He attended King Edward's School, Birmingham and Bromsgrove School, after which he worked for the family electrical engineering firm before becoming a professional actor. After his debut with Croydon Repertory Theatre he made many stage...

     as Northbrook. Northbrook is the unflappable British civil servant, assigned to the Prince Regent of Carpathia as an aide. Wattis was a British character actor often cast in the part of meek, long-suffering civil servants and officials.
  • Jeremy Spenser
    Jeremy Spenser
    -Selected filmography:* Kind Hearts and Coronets * The Planter's Wife * Background * Escapade * The Man Who Loved Redheads * It's Great to Be Young * The Prince and the Showgirl...

     as King Nicolas of Carpathia, though Carpathia is governed by his father, Prince Charles, as Regent.
  • Paul Hardwick
    Paul Hardwick
    Paul Hardwick was an English actor.-Selected filmography:*The Prince and the Showgirl *The Long Duel *Romeo and Juliet -External links:...

     as Major Domo
  • Esmond Knight
    Esmond Knight
    Esmond Penington Knight was an English actor.He was an accomplished actor with a career spanning over half a century. For much of his career Esmond Knight was virtually blind...

     as Colonel Hoffman
  • Rosamond Greenwood as Maud
  • Aubrey Dexter as The Ambassador
  • Maxine Audley
    Maxine Audley
    Maxine Audley was an English theatre and film actress. She made her professional stage debut in July 1940 at the Open Air Theatre. Throughout her career, Audley performed with both the Old Vic company and the Royal Shakespeare Company multiple times...

     as Lady Sunningdale
  • Harold Goodwin
    Harold Goodwin (English actor)
    Harold Goodwin was an English actor born in Wombwell, Yorkshire, England.Goodwin trained at RADA and was a stage actor at Liverpool repertory theatre for 3 years...

     as Call Boy
  • Jean Kent
    Jean Kent
    Jean Kent is a British film actress who appeared in a number of the Gainsborough melodramas of the 1940s.-Biography:Jean Kent was born in Brixton, London as Joan Mildred Summerfield. She started her theatrical career as a dancer in 1931. Initially, she used the stage name of Jean Carr when she...

     as Maisie Springfield
  • Daphne Anderson
    Daphne Anderson
    -External links:...

     as Fanny
  • Gillian Owen as Maggie
  • Vera Day
    Vera Day
    -Selected filmography:* Dance Little Lady * The Crowded Day * It's a Great Day * Quatermass 2 * Hell Drivers 1957)* The Prince and the Showgirl * Too Many Crooks * And the Same to You...

     as Betty
  • Margot Lister as Lottie
  • Charles Victor
    Charles Victor
    Charles Victor was a British actor who appeared in a number of films and television between 1938 and 1965.-Selected filmography:* Return of the Frog * Hell's Cargo * Contraband...

     as Theatre Manager
  • David Horne
    David Horne (actor)
    -Biography:British actor and playwright David Horne began his film career in the 1930s, after a distinguished early career in the theatre. He was generally seen portraying pompous, self-satisfied characters...

     as The Foreign Officer
    Foreign and Commonwealth Office
    The Foreign and Commonwealth Office, commonly called the Foreign Office or the FCO is a British government department responsible for promoting the interests of the United Kingdom overseas, created in 1968 by merging the Foreign Office and the Commonwealth Office.The head of the FCO is the...

  • Gladys Henson
    Gladys Henson
    Gladys Henson was a British actress whose career lasted from 1932 to 1976 and included roles on stage, radio, films and television series...

     as Dresser


The film proved less than impressive, both critically and financially. It recorded a profit, but many critics panned it for being slow-moving.


The movie was nominated for five BAFTA Awards:
  • Best British Actor - Laurence Olivier
  • Best British Film
  • Best British Screenplay - Terence Rattigan
  • Best Film from any Source
  • Best Foreign Actress - Marilyn Monroe

Crystal Star Award (French Film Academy)
  • Best Foreign Actress - Marilyn Monroe

David Di Donatello (Italian Film Academy)
  • Best Foreign Actress - Marilyn Monroe

National Board of Review Awards:
  • Best Supporting Actress - Sybil Thorndike


Olivier was reputedly so annoyed by Monroe's behaviour that he practically abandoned directing for the screen, only returning in 1970 to make Three Sisters (1970).

External links

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