Winter 2011 Movie Series:
February 6, 2012 - April 2, 2012
The castles and palaces of old weren't big on central heating but not to worry because the movies kept them ablaze with intrigue, cruelty, revolt, and romance. The glittering throne rooms and shadowy passageways were peopled by rulers benign and otherwise, loyal servants, princesses of surpassing beauty, beefy guards, and villains who graduated with honours from the Machiavelli School of Deceit.
Some of Hollywood's best work was done on royalty-based stories. Actors played roles to the jeweled hilt, sets were elaborate, composers' scores swelled at precisely the right moments, and costume departments worked overtime to make sure that tunics and gowns, gold braid, epaulettes, wigs and assorted trappings were faultless.
"Royal Flair" is studded with plots and subplots, manners and mayhem. And while the affairs of state are weighty and often dangerous, they are undertaken with a twinkle in the eye and the unshakable belief that justice will prevail.
(1956, 106 min., colour, PG)
Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner
A Russian con man schemes to present a woman with amnesia as the lost daughter of Czar Nicholas, so he can collect the millions held in her name. Bergman won an Oscar for her portrayal that introduces just the right regal note of doubt about her real origins. Could she actually be the real Anastasia?
Director: Anatole Litvak.
(1954, 107 min., colour, PG)
Edmund Purdom, Ann Blyth and the voice of Mario Lanza
Romberg's enormously popular musical is given a lush treatment. An arrogant prince is sent to university incognito, with hopes that his uppity attitude will change after association with ordinary people. The gorgeous music is brilliantly sung by the great Lanza.
Director: Richard Thorpe.
(1957, 117 min., colour, PG)
Marilyn Monroe, Laurence Olivier
In London for the 1911 Coronation, an American chorus girl meets the Prince of Carpathia. The differences in class and upbringing make for an intriguing sexual tension and a winning romantic comedy. A fruitful collaboration between a great comedienne and the world's most renowned actor.
Director: Laurence Olivier.
(1946, 93 min., PG)
Bob Hope, Joan Caulfield
Cowardly Bob plays the court barber to Louis XV who, rather than face execution, is sent on a deadly espionage mission masquerading as the new ambassador to Spain. Little does he know there are assassins on his trail. One of Hope's best comedies, made at the height of his popularity.
Director: George Marshall.
(1953, 112 min., colour, PG)
Jean Simmons, Stewart Granger, Deborah Kerr
In a lavishly mounted and engagingly performed historical romance, the young princess Elizabeth I deals with the heartbreak of first love with an admiral, and the machinations of jealous courtiers. Charles Laughton plays Bess's father, Henry VIII. Three Academy Award nominations.
Director: George Sidney.
(1937, 101 min., PG)
Ronald Colman, Madeleine Carroll, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
The best of five film versions of the classic tale. A commoner is thrust into the royal household when he's called upon to impersonate a look-alike king who's been kidnapped by a band of rebels. There he falls in love with a regal beauty while he struggles to fake the monarch's ways.
Director: John Cromwell.
(1937, 119 min., PG)
Billy and Bobby Mauch, Errol Flynn
This is the first and best of the three films based on Mark Twain's story, full of high drama and adventure. The young Prince Edward VI and his look-alike orphan friend trade places as a joke. When the true prince tires of the beggar-life and wants to go back, no one will believe his claim to royalty.
Director: William Keighley.
(1968, 135 min., colour, PG)
Peter O'Toole, Katharine Hepburn
O'Toole is magnificent as Henry II, a man facing the passage of his time on Earth and a monarch reluctantly yielding the reins of power. Hepburn won an Oscar for her role of Eleanor, his wife, observing the succession struggle among their three sons. Anthony Hopkins makes his debut in this flinty drama.
Director: Anthony Harvey.