Thursday, April 13, 2017

"The Student Prince", based on the Romberg operetta, was the first film I saw "alone" as a child

The first movie that I ever saw alone was the musical “The Student Prince” (1954, MGM) directed by Richard Thorpe.  I saw it on a Saturday afternoon in the old Glebe Theater in Arlington in the summer of that year, just before I turned 11.  An attendant got after me for running down the stairs from the balcony.  The film is in "AnscoColor" and Cinemascope, an early film from a company other than Fox in the process.

The movie is based on the operetta by Sigmund Romberg, and there was a legal battle over the use of Mario Lanza’s voice for the songs in the film (check Wikipedia).

But the story is about love vs. family duty, and about introversion.  In 19th Century Germany, still broken into duchies,  long before “The Great War” (PBS recently) Prince Karl (Edmund Purdom) hasn’t done well in courting a princess Johanna (Betty St. John) despite a rigorous life in the military (warning of what could be to come). His grandfather (Louis Calhern) sends him away to university in Heidelberg to learn social graces.  Wouldn’t he need those in the military?  I found out that I did when I went through Army Basic in 1968.  He falls in true love with Kathie (Ann Blyth)  But when his grandfather dies, he must face the idea of marriage (to Johnanna) for political survival as a king.

An old idea, indeed.

Wikipedia attribution link for picture of Rhine by Felix Koenig, CCSA 3.0.

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