Throughout the month I’ve been reviewing films from Carole Lombard – The Glamour Collection DVD set. This is the fifth of six films in the set.
An American woman (Carole Lombard) masquerading as a Swedish princess with Hollywood hopes boards an ocean liner, fooling everyone on board into thinking that she’s royalty. They all know her as Princess Olga, but her real name is Wanda Nash.
Bandleader King Mantell (Fred MacMurray) takes an interest in “Princess Olga,” much to Wanda’s annoyance. To even further complicate the journey, there’s someone on board who is blackmailing her and claims to know her true identity, as well as the secrets of other passengers. And on top of that, there’s also a killer on the ship, and both King Mantell and “Princess Olga” fall under suspicion by the investigators on board.
The Princess Comes Across (1936) was directed by William K. Howard. A whopping seven writers (five credited, two uncredited) wrote the script from a novel by Louis Lucien Rogger.
Carole Lombard does her best Garbo impression when her character is under the “Princess Olga” pretense, which is pretty hilarious to watch. Starring alongside MacMurray once again, she gives the type of solid performance that I’ve come to expect from her.
The “murder and mystery on the high seas” aspect of the story is also very fun to watch. It successfully mixes humor, drama and criminal mystery to keep the viewer guessing as to what the story’s outcome will be.
That being said, The Princess Comes Across is far from being one of Lombard’s best, or one of the best in “The Glamour Collection.”
The film is not immediately engrossing and it takes a little while for the story to pick up its pace. It starts out with not much more than shallow character introductions and general premise setup for about fifteen minutes, which isn’t an unreasonable amount of time for opening establishment but seems incredibly long here since the film as a whole runs at only 77 minutes.
The pace remains somewhat slow after that fifteen minutes is up, but once the story actually gets moving it remains decently engrossing for the viewer.
The mood of the film shifts quite a bit when the killer’s first victim is found, and at this point the film gets a heck of a lot better. If the entire film had been written as the second half was, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot and given the film a 4.5. As it is, though, I’ve got to dock a few points for slowness and that opening, even though I enjoyed the film overall. The score: 3/5
Good lord, that photo of Fred MacMurray is hilarious! How old was he when he made this movie, fifteen? In a strange way, if you study the poster long enough, he kind of looks like a young (check that, VERY young) George Clooney!
I see the resemblance! He was 28 when the film was released but he’s definitely got the baby face going on in the poster.
And to think, with a baby face like that, he would become such a rotten sap starring with ol’ what’s-her-name in ‘Double Indemnity’…
I enjoy the humour in the film and the way the B movie detectives of the era are spoofed.
I enjoyed that aspect of it a lot, too. Detective mysteries are one of my favorite genres!