Director Charles Vidor’s 1956 romantic drama movie is MGM’s wedding gift to Grace Kelly, who quit the movies and her glittering star career to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco. MGM released the film on her wedding day, 18 April 1956. She had just won a Best Actress Oscar for The Country Girl (1954).
Former Ealing Studios writer John Dighton dusts off Ferenc Molnar’s antique play about the aristocratic beauty Princess Alexandra (Kelly), who is coached for a new life as royalty when she is about to wed Prince Albert (Alec Guinness, in his first American film). In real life, Kelly later named her son Prince Albert of Monaco.
Even if the film is desperately old fashioned and stately, the script’s sparkling humour, the incandescent good looks of Kelly and the constricted, comic dignity of a uniformed Guinness combine to make this a pleasure to watch and a rare delight.
Although she agreed to a comeback in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie (1964), The Swan proved Kelly’s film swan song, and Tippi Hedren took over.
Louis Jourdan as Dr Nicholas Agi, Agnes Moorehead as Queen Maria Dominika, Jessie Royce Landis as Alexandra’s mother Princess Beatrix, Brian Aherne as Father Carl Hyacinth, Leo G Carroll, Estelle Winwood, Van Dyke Parks, Christopher Cook, Robert Coote and Doris Lloyd.
Landis also played Kelly’s mother in Hitchcock’s To Catch a Thief (1955).
It was filmed in North Carolina at George Vanderbilt’s 1895 Biltmore Estate (situated in Asheville) and at Lake Junaluska.
Earlier adaptations of the play are The Swan (1925) and One Romantic Night (1930).
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 3981
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