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Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Student Prince (1954)

An arrogant and haughty young Prince (Edmund Purdom, flat as ever) is sent to a university at Heidelberg in the hopes that living with the common people, he will become more human. At the inn where he is staying as a student, he falls in love with a barmaid (Ann Blyth) even though he is betrothed to a Princess (Betta St. John). This musty old operetta by Sigmund Romberg has been dusted off and gussied up in CinemaScope, stereophonic sound and Ansco color but it still creaks. While it might have worked in the 1930s with the likes of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, was there still a market for this in 1954? Blyth is in fine voice but Purdom is dubbed by Mario Lanza. Lanza had been cast in the part and recorded his songs before leaving MGM in a dispute and since they had the rights to the vocal tracks, MGM simply recast the part using Lanza's vocals. The film is rather saccharine though the ending is effectively bittersweet. Musically, it's a crashing bore with all those Romberg songs about drinking beer but the loveliest song in the movie, Beloved, isn't even written by Romberg but was written especially for the film by Paul Francis Webster and Nicholas Brodszky. Directed by Richard Thorpe. With Louis Calhern, Edmund Gwenn, John Ericson, Evelyn Varden, John Williams, S.Z. "Cuddles" Sakall, John Hoyt, Richard Anderson and John Qualen.

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