Thursday, July 19, 2012

Princess O'Rourke (1943)

“Boy, are you lucky I was raised right. Or was I? Yeah, I guess I was.”

            Princess O’Rourke is a Cinderella tale told in reverse- instead of the girl being poor and marrying a prince it is a common American man with a good job marrying a princess. This a modern Cinderella story told during World War II. The film has its charms but for the most part it is slow with so-so performances from the leads.
            Maria (Olivia de Havilland) is an exiled foreign princess whose family has been thrown out of their country during WWII. Her father the king is currently living in England while she is living in New York City with her uncle Holman (Charles Coburn). Maria lives a very sheltered life she cannot go anywhere without being followed and she is bored always being in the apartment. Holman suggests to his niece to take a trip out to some friends in San Francisco for a few days. She agrees and takes the flight under the name of Mary Williams. Before she gets on the plane her secretary gives her a sleeping pill so she will sleep on the night flight. As Maria tries to get comfortable she cannot fall asleep so she asks for another pill. Three more times she asks for a pill the last time she happens to ask Eddie O’Rourke (Robert Cummings) one of the pilots.
            Maria finally falls into a deep sleep when Eddie and his co-pilot and best friend Dave (Jack Carson) have to turn the plane around due to heavy fog. No one can get Maria up she is so out of it. Eddie does not know who to contact to come pick Maria up since no address was left so he has to take her to his apartment for the night. Before he takes her to his place he takes Maria to a diner for some coffee. She says in front of the owner that all she wants is to sleep so he puts a sleeping pill her coffee!! Eddie finally manages to get her back to his place but calls Dave to send his wife Jean (Jane Wyman) to get Maria out of her clothes.
            When Maria wakes up the next morning she sees notes that Eddie has left for her with one of them telling her that they should meet the next day. Maria goes back to her uncle who has been in a fury looking for her. She tells her uncle that she spent the night in the lady’s lounge at the airport. Maria meets up with Eddie and he takes her Dave and Jean’s house before they go out for dinner that night. Jean is part of a women’s group for the War effort so she takes Maria along with her. Maria is moved by these women doing their part to help their country in a time of need she decides to enlist as well but is turned away because she does not have any common skills. So instead she is turned into a dummy for the nurses. That night the two couples go out for dinner. Eddie and Dave have enlisted with the Air Force and have to head out for a day or two the next day. Eddie asks Maria as Mary the refugee who was heading out to San Francisco to be an attic maid for an old lady (the story she told them). She tells him she cannot but does not give him a reason why. He keeps insisting and reluctantly in so many words says yes to his proposal.
            The next day Maria keeps trying to call Eddie to say she will never forget his proposal and him but he cannot talk to her for more than a few seconds so he does not get what she is trying to say. Holman finds out some more information about Eddie from an informant. He finds that Eddie is one of nine boys and his father is one of eleven boys (*dear God I have three younger brothers I cannot even imagine living in a house full of boys like that!*). With this information Holman calls the King to tell him about Eddie and his large family of boys and how the King has always wanted his country to be more friendly with America. The King allows his daughter to marry the commoner. Eddie meanwhile has had Jean track down the check that Maria’s secretary had written and that it came from an older man. Maria meets Eddie at Dave and Jean’s. Eddie is not happy with Maria thinking she was living with an older man who paid for everything for her. In order to explain everything she takes him to her place.
            The new couple is invited to stay at the White House. The more Eddie is told about what his duties are and how his children are to be raised the more he feels the pressure. The final straw for him is when he has to sign a paper that he has to give up his American citizenship. Eddie tries to talk to Maria telling her that he is in love with Mary the poor refugee girl who was going to San Francisco to be an attic maid. But Holman takes control of her like a slave as Eddie says she is and sends her to her room. Eddie leaves but then comes back because he has no other place to stay. When he comes back he sees Maria again but Holman shoos her back to her room and locks her door so they cannot see each other.
            Maria writes a letter and gives it to the President’s dog Fala (which is really Roosevelt’s dog) to give to his master. The next thing some people come, get Maria out of her room, and a Supreme Court judge marries Eddie and Maria and they sneak out of the White House happily married.
            The performances were good but I found them boring especially from Olivia de Havilland. Now I do not know if her performance was how she was directed or if she was pissed off with Warner Bros. and decided to botch the film somehow but whatever it was her performance was boring. I say boring but she was not bad. De Havilland’s performance was very calm for a comedy I felt she could have put more emphasis into the lines and the character in some scenes. But as I said I do not know if de Havilland’s boring performance was done on her own or if it was directed that way. Robert Cummings was a bit too much for me here. He is a good actor but after a while I could not take him. Jack Carson gave a good performance. Sometimes whenever I see Carson in a film he is too much and he just becomes annoying. Jan Wyman plays Jean in the film. I have never seen her before in a film and I liked her I would not mind seeing her again in another film. Charles Coburn always plays the characters that seem like they have good intentions at first and then turn out to be bastards. I really did not like him at the end of the film which was the point.
            Princess O’Rourke is a good comedy, not that great just good. I would only suggest watching the film if you are a fan of Olivia de Havilland or Robert Cummings, or Jane Wyman but other than that take your time looking for it.

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