The Swan (1956)
Director: Charles Vidor
Cast: Grace Kelly, Alec Guinness, Louis Jourdan
Synopsis: Princess Beatrice’s days of enjoying the regal life are numbered unless her only daughter, Princess Alexandra, makes a good impression on a distant cousin when he pays a surprise visit to their palace.
MGM delved deep into its back catalogue to find a fitting subject with which to cash in on Grace Kelly’s impending royal marriage, and came up with this bygone relic from the silent era.
That the movie was outdated even in the mid-fifties is undeniable – these kind of movies were, for the most part, typical of 1930s and 40s Hollywood – not an era in which Presley was swivelling his hips, and the space race had begun in earnest. At the very least, this movie would seem to have been more suited to the light-musical treatment rather than the uneasy mix of comedy and drama with which the audience is presented.
Nevertheless, the movie starts promisingly with the accent on comedy for the first 45 minutes or so. Alec Guinness makes Prince Albert a highly likeable character initially, although his character becomes darker as the film progresses, and his motives questionable (watch his face as he studies Princess Alexandra after making his poignant speech at the end of the movie to see what I mean). Unfortunately, both Kelly’s and Louis Jourdan’s characters are one-dimensional puppets who quickly become tiresome as the more dramatic aspects of the plot take over and the film begins to drag.
I liked the movie’s ending a lot; it’s refreshingly original and somewhat downbeat for the era and genre.
(Reviewed 18th February 2002)
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