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Sunday, June 6, 2010

PRINCESS O’ROURKE (1943)

This Royalty/Commoner romance doesn’t try for the melancholy undertones (or directorial finesse) that made Lubitsch’s THE STUDENT PRINCE/’27 and Wyler’s ROMAN HOLIDAY/’53 such bittersweet wonders. It’s merely a wartime farce, a pleasantry. But thanks to a cast that goes for charm over punchy laughs, it all goes down easily. An exceptionally pretty Olivia de Havilland gently handles her bored Princess shtick and she neither condescends nor overplays her disguise as a ‘regular gal.’ Watch her nail the sentiment in a scene where she finds she has no skills worth donating to the war effort. As the airman who falls for her, Robert Cummings, so often over-parted, gets a role that really fits him while Jack Carson & Jane Wyman shine as his married pals. (Career bumps all around.) Norman Krasna’s Oscar’d script features the oddest meet-cute ever: Olivia overdoses on sleeping pills. Good grief. And he lets FDR & his little dog ‘Fala’ wrap everything up for a finale. The guy had chutzpah!

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: Warners put out that the real White House & the real Fala were used. But isn’t this the White House set from YANKEE DOODLE DANDY/’42? As for it being the real Fala . . . hmm.

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