Princess O'Rourke (1943) Poster

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.....and Fala, playing himself
bkoganbing22 April 2007
Seeing Princess O'Rourke last night on TCM, it was interesting to learn that interiors at the White House were shot at the real location. And while the current president was occupied by something called World War II, he found time to have his well known Scot's terrier Fala make a guest appearance.

That is the real Fala you see playing message courier between Princess Olivia DeHavilland and the pilot from Brooklyn, Robert Cummings. She's a princess from some unnamed European country that is currently occupied by some jackbooted uninvited guests. Most of the royalty in exile settled in the United Kingdom during war time, but some actually did make it here. In fact Olivia's father the king is in London as the story goes.

And this is a Cinderella story in reverse with the boy from Brooklyn, meeting, wooing and winning a princess. Cummings is an airline pilot scheduled to go in the Army Air Corps who meets princess DeHavilland on a flight that gets canceled back to New York. A slight overdose of sleeping pills leaves her in his unwanted hands. The unwanted part changes soon enough as it does in all films of this type.

The ironic thing is while some royalty did make it back to their countries, a lot were dispossessed permanently by those other totalitarian occupiers from the East after World War II. They didn't exactly live in the diminished circumstances that Olivia was heading for. Some of Charles Coburn's concerns as her uncle are quite real.

Princess O'Rourke is a charming comedy though dated by its topical wartime references. Look also for nice performances by Jack Carson as Cummings's co-pilot and Jane Wyman as Carson's girl friend.
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Wartime comedy won Oscar for Best Original Screenplay
Doylenf29 March 2001
Norman Krasna wrote a delightful script that is played to the hilt by Olivia de Havilland, Robert Cummings, Jane Wyman and Jack Carson--not to mention Charles Coburn. Interesting to note that de Havilland and Wyman would be up for Best Actress Oscars three years later (To Each His Own, The Yearling). Wyman was so impressive as Jack Carson's wise-cracking wife that Billy Wilder decided to use her for 'The Lost Weekend' in a more dramatic role. De Havilland's sleeping pill scene early on gets the film off to a breezy start--she even lapses into a little French (long before she became a Parisian in real life). All in all, she does a wonderful job as the Princess in love with commoner (Robert Cummings)and facing a few twists and turns of plot before the ending. John Huston, her boyfriend at the time, was said to have coached her in the role. Jack Carson and Jane Wyman have good supporting roles--and Charles Coburn has some amusing scenes as de Havilland's overprotective uncle. Ten years later, 'Roman Holiday' gave us another variation on this theme. One of de Havilland's better comedy roles.
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Of it's time, but way above expectations
fung021 April 2007
Yes, it's a wartime movie, with some fairly subtle propaganda thrown in. Yes, it's a formula romance. Well, I'm afraid I love formula romances. And I guess I can even respect propaganda when it's done with panache and sincerity.

Norman Krasna's screenplay is the real star. Watching the film I was constantly amazed at how the dialog sparkled, how the situations never worked out in quite the way I expected, how the characters always seemed just a little warmer and more human than they might have in many similar films of this era.

The cast is excellent as well, consisting entirely of Hollywood stalwarts, every one of them at their most endearing. Jack Carson, Charles Coburn and Jane Wyman are all great, of course. But Olivia De Havilland is also perfectly cast, lovable on one hand, regal on the other... yet without that slightly simpering quality that made her less likable in, say, The Adventures of Robin Hood, or Gone With the Wind. Robert Cummings was a fine comedic actor who is not well-remembered today, perhaps because he was less multidimensional than someone like James Stewart; but he's used to excellent advantage here. He's not just portraying the perfect everyman Yank; he IS that (perhaps mythical) person, the Guy From Brooklyn. And, yes, the perfect wartime Yank, who's just got to join up and be in "the biggest fight of all time, and the most important." Just as Bogart had to go be a hero at the end of Casablanca. These wartime films earn much of their charm by being unashamedly part of their times.

But ultimately, it's the little touches that raise this film far above the ordinary. The extended gag with the multiple sleeping pills; the silly little bits with the president's dog... These don't distract from the warmth of the film, they add to it.

Perhaps we undervalue a film like Princess O'Rourke simply because the material and the style are so familiar. We need to step back and admire the Hollywood dream-factory at its finest, working to a certain format, yet also bringing together the talented individuals who could make that format sing.

I'll take a wonderfully-executed "formula" film like Princess O'Rourke any day, over self-consciously brilliant films that forget the basics of how to entertain.
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Royally good satire
jarrodmcdonald-11 March 2014
Princess O'Rourke does not try to be amusing or clever, but instead it deftly combines funny situations with a sort of real-life seriousness. A viewer may get the impression that this is really how a princess (Olivia de Havilland) would behave if faced with the predicament of falling for a commoner in another country-- if, in fact, it would happen at all.

Yet there is something believable about this hokum, because the film possesses a calmness and dignity, in large part due to the presence of Miss de Havilland. Robert Cummings as the leading man is both romantic and comic; while Charles Coburn and Jane Wyman deliver strong supporting performances.

The film's strongest asset, though, is the writing. The basic premise seems to cover all sorts of angles and suggests that love and politics intersect but do not necessarily mix. The story moves forward with ease, and a highlight of the proceedings is the friendship that develops between de Havilland and Wyman.
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Another Princess and a commoner, with some propaganda thrown in
blanche-213 March 2006
It is, after all, 1943, so you've got to expect a little propaganda from a film, even if it is a comedy called "Princess O'Rourke," starring Olivia de Havilland, Robert Cummings, Jack Carson, and Jane Wyman. DeHavilland is a princess visiting in New York, en route by plane to San Francisco to escape from boredom. Before she leaves, she gets a sleeping pill from her uncle's secretary (Gladys Cooper) but when it doesn't work immediately, she gets another one from the flight attendant, one from the copilot (Jack Carson), and finally, two from the pilot, Eddie (Robert Cummings). Then she can sleep. Unfortunately, the plane has to turn around and return to New York and the princess can't be awakened. Eddie takes her to his place to sleep it off - all very chaste, of course - and the two fall in love.

Olivia de Havilland is very beautiful and was one of the best actresses in Hollywood. Alas, she didn't always get a chance to show it. But she is certainly lovely as a young woman torn between loyalty and love. Her sleeping pill scene and the scene where her uncle discusses a possible American suitor with her are wonderful and demonstrate her impeccable timing. Jack Carson and Jane Wyman are delightful as Eddie's friends, and Cummings gives an energetic performance as Eddie. In the film Eddie's birth date is given as 1914; Cummings was actually born in 1908 and was around 33 when the movie was made (though released in 1943, the film was made over a year earlier). He retained his youthful appearance well past the 1950s, during which time he played a swinging bachelor in his television series. Charles Coburn provides excellent support, and Gladys Cooper is totally wasted in a role that she must have been assigned for some contractual reason.

"Princess O'Rourke" enters the realm of whimsy when the President and his "little dog Fala," as Roosevelt referred to his buddy, take a hand in the romance. The dog playing Fala is excellent! One interesting bit of trivia: It's rare to see a film released 63 years ago in which two of the stars are still alive (in fact, it's rare to see a film released 63 years ago in which even one star is alive), but at this writing, both de Havilland and Wyman are still with us. So is "Princess O'Rourke." It's light and enjoyable.
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Underrated Romantic Comedy
utgard1415 July 2014
Lovely romantic comedy about a princess (Olivia de Havilland) who falls in love with an American pilot (Robert Cummings). He falls for her, too, but the problem is he thinks she's a maid, not a princess. Charming, fun movie with an extremely likable cast. In addition to de Havilland and Cummings, there's fine support from Charles Coburn, Jack Carson, Jane Wyman, Harry Davenport, and Gladys Cooper. What a lineup! This one's pretty underrated. The more famous Roman Holiday owes a lot to this film. Also worth seeing for Olivia's bath scene, which I found pretty risqué for the time. That's probably the most skin Olivia ever showed on screen. She's beautiful in this, one of her best romantic comedy roles. Love the cute bit with FDR's dog, too.
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"New York Holiday"?
David-24023 June 1999
Pre-dating "Roman Holiday" by ten years is this charming little comedy about a runaway princess, this time in New York, falling in love with a commoner. Like "Roman Holiday" the part of the princess is played to perfection, this time by Olivia De Havilland. And she's matched well by Robert Cummings, with a brilliant supporting cast headed by Charles Coburn, Jack Carson and Jane Wyman.

Unlike "Roman Holiday" this film opts for an overly-simplistic solution that is neither believable or satisfying. It's quite fun though being in the White House and watching FDR's dog play an important role in the drama. And the Oscar winning script is pretty good until the finale.

But it is De Havilland that makes the film work. Early in the film she takes a number of sleeping pills, and her drugged acting is superb. She also has a very raunchy scene in a bath! She achieves a perfect balance between comedy and drama, and once again proves that she was one of the best actors of her generation.
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Very silly and ridiculous but still a lot of fun!
MartinHafer4 March 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I almost gave this film a 7, since despite the film's many deficiencies it is so much fun. My advice is try to look past the silly excesses and improbabilities and you'll find a film that is both charming and a modern fairy tale.

Olivia De Havilland plays a princess staying in America during WWII. It seems that her own country was overrun by the Nazis and she is waiting out the war in the US. While I am a HUGE, HUGE fan of Miss De Havilland, I must say that her part in the film wasn't all that compelling--she played an overly stiff character. However, this was made up for by the bubbly performances of Jane Wyman, Jack Carson, Charles Coburn and especially Bob Cummings.

Olivia is constantly watched by her uncle as well as keepers from the State Department and she has many official duties that seem to bore her. As a result of a desire to see Americans as they really are, she leaves her hotel and eventually bumps into Wyman, Carson and Cummings. They mistake her for a penniless refugee and take her under their wing. While it is pretty predictable, she and Cummings fall in love and decide to marry--even though Cummings has no idea she is a rich princess. When he does find out, you'd think the movie was about finished, but this isn't the case. There's still about 20 to 30 minutes left in the film. Despite my assuming her uncle (Coburn) would be against the marriage, he is thrilled--especially since Cummings' family seems chock full of boys and fertility doesn't seem to be a problem! But, other problems do develop and are eventually worked out, thanks to the help of FDR and his dog, Fala! Yes, I am NOT kidding!! An adorable Scottie plays Fala (the world famous dog of President Roosevelt) and while this is almost embarrassingly ridiculous, it's also pretty cute. My advice is to watch this film but just tun off your brain during the final portion of the film--it's so unbelievable and schmaltzy that your head will explode unless you can force yourself to cope with this!
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I liked the unseen aide that the hero tipped at the door
theowinthrop14 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
There is something pathetic about how World War II hurt the institution of monarchy throughout Europe (and nearly Japan as well). In Western Europe most of the monarchs fled the onslaught of the Nazi Blitzkrieg, the most notable exceptions being the rulers of Denmark and Belgium. But it is instructive to remember what happened to them. The King of Denmarck remained defiant of the Nazis (if basically powerless) and even (to his immortal glory) purposely wore a Jewish star on his royal tunic when the Nazis began imposing their anti-Semitic policies on the Danish Jewish population. On the other hand, King Leopold III of Belgium did not show a finer spirit (though he always insisted he did the right thing). Leopold willingly surrendered to the Germans and cooperated with them. His reason for this was to protect his people. This (of course) did not include the Jewish population in Belgium. After the war the Allies were not very happy with Leopold (as they were with the Danish King). Neither were the Belgians, most of whom compared Leopold's cowardice (their view) with his father Albert's heroic defense of Belgium in World War I, that made King Albert one of the great heroes of his time. In 1951, Leopold had to abdicate in favor of his son Bauduin I. Leopold died in 1973, never recovering any popularity with his people.

Eastern Europe was similar, some monarchs proving heroic even to the point of death. King Boris of Bulgaria had to make a devil's pact with the Nazis in the face of Soviet aggression. But he refused to agree with the transportation of Jews (Bulgaria's population agreed with Boris - 90 percent of the Jewish population of Bulgaria survived World War II, the highest in all Europe among occupied countries). In 1943 he again refused, and died in some sudden, unexpected way while flying home from a meeting with Hitler. To this day poison or some other odd murder devise (depressurizing the cabin of Boris's plane has been suggested) may have killed him. The nation threw out the Coburg family as royal family when the Russians set up their puppet Communist regime. But when the Communists were finally overturned, the Coburgs were welcomed back. The monarchy wasn't restored, but the current head of the house was elected Prime Minister for awhile.

Most of those monarchs who fled settled in England or the U.S. or Canada for the duration. The only one who was able to return to his throne during the war was Haile Selassie of Ethiopia, as the British kicked the Italians out of that country. After the war the luckiest of the monarchs was Hirohito of Japan. Although there is still controversy about how deeply involved in the aggressions of the 1930s and 1940s he was (the title of one study, THE IMPERIAL CONSPIRACY, tells that suspicion), he was smart enough to know when to throw in the towel in the face of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He was able to show to General Douglas MacArthur that he could be a damned good constitutional monarch. That's why Japan still has a royal family.

Only a handful of movies deal with the flight of the royals to Allied (but non-Communist) lands. The most notable ones are WHERE'S THERE HOPE, wherein Bob Hope is an unknown heir to a Balkan throne who has to be protected by Signe Hasso, and this film, PRINCESS O'ROURKE. Written by Norman Krasna (the screenplay won him an Oscar), it tells of how one of the heirs to the throne of an invaded kingdom (Olivia De Haviland) is mistaken for a maid by an American Air Force pilot (Bob Cummings), and how he and she slowly fall in love. The comedy works here as the story is built to show the so-called superiority of the equality of Americans (at least Caucasian, Christian Americans) over old world aristocrats and out-of-date monarchies.

There are some lovely bits in it. Charles Coburn plays De Haviland's uncle, a crusty old snob. But while initially opposed to the union, he begins changing his mind when he realizes that Cummings comes from a family of breeders (he has five brothers, and his father had seven, or some such set of numbers). Smiling and acting like he is considering purchasing a brood mare for breeding purposes, he keeps repeating those figures like they are a mantra. It is only when Cummings refuses the idea of his kids losing their American character and citizenship that Coburn's harsher snobbery returns.

The film is famous also for the appearance (in his only movie role) of F.D.R.'s "little dog Fala" as himself. The final sequences in the film were filmed at the White House (actually quite an achievement for any studio in wartime). The best moment is at the end, when Cummings upon leaving with his bride after a secret White House marriage tips an "aide" watching at the door. We never see the face of the aide in question, but I imagine afterward he roared with laughter while having a cigarette and possibly one of his own martinis.
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War time comedy on the American home front
SimonJack18 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Two buddies are making their last runs as commercial pilots before going into the Army Air Corps in this 1943 comedy romance. Robert Cummings plays Eddie O'Rourke and Jack Carson plays Dave Campbell. But Eddie's future is drastically altered when a woman passenger, Mary Williams, boards their plane heading for California. She is Princess Maria (from some undisclosed European country) who is traveling incognito. Olivia de Havilland plays Maria/Mary who happily takes sleeping pills from several people to be able to sleep on her flight from New York.

But bad weather at all points ahead soon forces the plane to return to New York. Only her royal guardian, Maria's uncle Holman, doesn't know about this until later. Charles Coburn plays Holman with his usual wit and frequently dry humor. Eddie takes charge of the sleepy drugged Mary and tries to locate her family, to no avail. Finally, he calls Dave and his wife, Jean (played by Jane Wyman), who go to his apartment where Jean puts Mary to bed.

From there the fun continues as Uncle Holman is joined by the U.S. State Department and police in trying to locate the missing princess. They think she has been kidnapped.

This is a light, fun film with a very far-fetched plot (the displaced royalty in America during the war). The cast all are very good, and it has some interesting little insights of history. I noticed that one of the shooting locations was the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. And, that dog that we see! Could it be President Roosevelt's own Scottish Terrier, Fala? According to sources, including Wikipedia, Fala was played in this film by a stand-in pooch named Whiskers.

Many movies about World War II have shown the preparedness at home in England, and some American home front films have shown women taking up jobs in industry. But I don't recall any film before this that showed emergency training and support by women in the U.S. I don't know if the women's support group here was real or fictitious but a couple funny lines came at its expense. When Eddie suggests they go see the sights together, Jean says she can't until later because it's her day to work with the women's volunteer group. Dave says, "She's a major lieutenant." Eddie says "A major lieutenant? There's no such thing." Dave says, "There is in her crew. Everybody's something. Mrs. Maloney is a double sergeant general colonel, second class."

Another plus in this film is a look inside an early 1940s commercial aircraft that had sleeping berths. People today may find it hard to believe, but before deregulation of the airline industry in the late 1970s, airlines used to offer many amenities on board. My first flight was in 1962, but I had never seen a plane with sleeping berths. The one the boys are flying in this film seems more like a Pullman railroad car inside the cabin. Pullman sleeping cars were a thing of the past by the late 1960s, but a number of older films have scenes that show us what they looked like.

Bob Cummings actually served in the Army Air Force during WW II. He joined in November 1942 and served as a flight instructor. While this film came out in late October, 1943, that was a year after it had been made. Cummings was taught to fly while in high school in Joplin, MO, by his godfather, Orville Wright. Wright and his brother Wilbur were the first men to build and successfully fly a plane – in 1903 at Kitty Hawk, NC.

Cummings gave high school friends rides in his plane. When the U.S. government began licensing flight instructors, Bob Cummings was issued the very first flight instructor certificate. Besides his flying credentials, Cummings had a very colorful background in acting. He successfully imitated an upper crust Englishman to gain stage roles in England and on Broadway. He later portrayed a rich Texan to get a start in films in Hollywood. In the 1930s he reverted to his real name and had a successful career in comedy, drama and mystery films, and on radio and TV shows through the 1950s.

Cummings isn't remembered much today, but he was well known and liked for his talent in the mid-20th century. He never became a super star, but played in some memorable films and with top performers of the day. He began using methamphetamines in the mid-1950s and his addiction hurt his career from then on and contributed to two divorces. He died of kidney failure and pneumonia at age 80 in 1990.

This film is light entertainment with some fine movie stars of the time. It's a fun film fit for the whole family.
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A neglected masterpiece! Best Original Screenplay of 1943!
JohnHowardReid28 August 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Producer: Hal B. Wallis. Executive producer: Jack L. Warner. Copyright 23 October 1943 by Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. A Warner Bros.-First National picture. A Hal B. Wallis production. New York opening at the Strand: 5 November 1943. U.S. release: 23 October 1943. Australian release: 11 October 1945 (sic). 8,659 feet. 96 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Brash American pilot woos European princess.

NOTES: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Award to Norman Krasna for Best Original Screenplay (defeating Dudley Nichols' Air Force, Noel Coward's In Which We Serve, Lillian Hellman's The North Star, and Allan Scott's So Proudly We Hail).

COMMENT: Although Bosley Crowther gave "Princess O'Rourke" a marvelously enthusiastic write-up in The New York Times (the film was a runner-up for his "Ten Best" of the year), and although Norman Krasna defeated unusually stiff competition to carry off the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, it is not a movie all that fondly remembered today. In fact it hasn't been aired for at least 40 years on my local television, though it's certainly a far more agreeable comedy than most of the junk that nowadays passes for hilarity. Lightweight it definitely is, but Krasna displays an appropriately light touch, drawing pleasant performances from his large and distinguished cast. Photography is most attractive, and art direction superb.

"Princess O'Rourke" may not be exactly Royal Command Performance material, but it's a most enjoyable way to spend an idle 96 minutes.
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Writer Norman Krasna tries his hand at directing, finally earns Original Screenplay Oscar
jacobs-greenwood6 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Writer Norman Krasna had received three Academy Award nominations for his original stories or screenplays (most recently for The Devil and Miss Jones (1941)) by the time he tried his hand at directing his first film, this one. Since he only directed two more films in his career, once in 1950 and again in 1956, one might assume that he preferred writing.

For this romantic comedy, Krasna finally earned his only Oscar (on his last nomination) for an Original Screenplay. His creative story about an incognito princess out of her native country who meets and falls in love with a commoner predates by 10 years the better known classic Roman Holiday (1953) (its three different writers would share Oscar nominations and Academy Awards for their similar story and screenplay).

Olivia de Havilland plays Princess Maria, who lives with her Uncle Holman (Charles Coburn) in exile, because of World War II, in New York City. Count Peter (Curt Bois) wants to marry her, but she doesn't love him even though Holman expresses concern about their country's succession (e.g. she needs a male offspring, an heir). However, he's also concerned about his niece's well being, so he sends her to San Francisco under an assumed name, Mary Williams, to improve her state of mind and/or broaden her horizons. Because of bad weather and too many sleeping pills to combat her fear of flying, she ends up back in New York in the apartment of the plane's pilot, Eddie O'Rourke (Robert Cummings). It's not what you think, she was passed out and he was chivalrous not lecherous. He assumes she's a war refugee and she doesn't enlighten him. Instead, they begin dating during which she meets his married friends, Jean & Dave Campbell (Jane Wyman & Jack Carson), who naturally quarrel a bit (providing additional comic relief).

When Holman finds out about Maria's beau, he has an agent investigate the pilot and is delighted to learn that Eddie is from a large family of boys (as was Eddie's father). Things get rather complicated, diplomatically, at this point. The princess is willing and able to marry a commoner, provided that he'll renounce his U.S. citizenship, which is of course a showstopper for him. It's all resolved in a rather cute (if incredible) way, with Harry Davenport as the Supreme Court judge who performs the ceremony at the White House, the President (FDR) and his dog.
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A really good 1940's royal film!
Irishchatter11 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I thought it was really funny at the beginning when the princess had a couple of sleeping pills, and then, being dragged by the pilots who found her not waking up. Seriously, Olivia de Havilland done that scene so well that I cant believe shes still alive today and is 100 years old!

She really reminds me of Audrey Hepburn and her love interest on this, Robert Cummings reminds me of Frank Sinatra. They both really are a good match like it was a good idea to have them on together in this!

Im glad it even won an Oscar, although I wouldn't expect it to get that far but De Havilland I think really made this film shine! Its very good, please watch this if you like royal romance films!
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Quite a good light romantic comedy
vincentlynch-moonoi13 August 2015
Warning: Spoilers
When I sat down to watch this film, I frankly wasn't in the mood for a comedy. And I wasn't always impressed with Olivia de Havilland in comedies, although I felt she was one of best actresses of her generation. However, this turned out to be quite a pleasant romantic comedy.

De Havilland and Bob Cummings had some fine chemistry on screen, and I've long felt that Cummings has been unfairly forgotten, despite some very fine performances in films such as Hitchcock's "Sabateur" and the fine comedy "The Devil And Miss Jones". Cummings plays an airline pilot here, who falls in love with a woman he doesn't realize is a princess. Of course, Cummings ruined his film reputation when he moved to television and -- in the mid-1950s -- got into amphetamines.

There's a good supporting cast here, as well. Charles Coburn is one of the best of the character actors, although I can't say this is his best role. Jack Carson is the best friend, Jane Wyman the best female friend, Harry Davenport as a Supreme Court Judge, Gladys Cooper as a governess and secretary, and Minor Watson as a diplomat. Unfortunately, the film is so focused on De Havilland and Cummings that the supporting actors don't get as much screen time as they deserve.

The one real criticism is the running gag early in the film about sleeping pills. It is important to the story, but it went on too long.

However, all things considered, this is a pleasant and entertaining film. It's a light comedy, and not the heavy duty drama in which de Havilland excelled, and it's a great film for Cummings. It's worth a watch.
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Light but fun.
dougandwin7 September 2005
Firstly, I have to comment that Olivia de Havilland looks absolutely beautiful in this movie, and that is just as well, because the story is fairly flimsy and Robert Cummings is even out of his depth in this. (despite the foregoing, this film pre-dated "Roman Holiday" which has a very similar story line). The usual Warner stalwarts in Jack Carson and Jane Wyman had familiar roles which I am sure they could have played with their eyes shut, but it was so disappointing to see that wonderful actress Gladys Cooper in a five minute role as a secretary, and insulting to someone of her class. Charles Coburn was a good foil for the comings and goings of the lead characters. Somehow, one gets the feeling that this film, and a few others like it, would have been the reasons for Miss de Havilland going on suspension so often at Warner Brothers.
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This Princess is A Real Gem Princess O'Rourker ****
edwagreen18 February 2009
Olivia de Havilland shows once again that she can play a quiet, timid young lady as she had done 4 years earlier in the epic "Gone With the Wind."

Cast opposite a wonderful Robert Cummings, as Eddie O'Rourke, the two provide an absolute great chemistry between them in this wonderful film.

My only surprise here is that Gladys Cooper, as a secretary, has so little to do here.

As always, Charles Coburn is terrific, especially by showing his comic and dramatic abilities in films. The scene where he tells Eddie to get out is just great.

The picture just proves over and over that wealth and status can't bring you happiness.

The odd-ball meeting between the Princess and Eddie provides for so much fun here. Rounding out the cast is Jane Wyman and Jack Carson, as the married friends of Eddie.

The scene where Mary (Olivia) is willing to do anything for the war effort was quite humorous. She is better than any princess, the woman is no snob. Eddie shows his mettle when he refuses to give up his American citizenship by marrying a foreign princess. He wishes to do his patriotic duty, the great theme for American films during World War 11.
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A charming, if not formulaic romantic comedy
FilmOtaku1 December 2003
Princess O'Rourke, the story of a temporarily exiled princess living in New York is pretty indicative of the romantic comedy genre of the time: Boy meets girl under zany circumstances (in this case, Olivia de Havilland is a frightened airline passenger and Robert Cummings is her pilot), they very quickly fall in love and she withholds the fact that she is royalty until the end when mayhem ensues. Formulaic? Definitely. But de Havilland is so engaging that you refrain from rolling your eyes more than if it were many other actresses and Robert Cummings is a charming leading man.

The supporting characters of note include Charles Coburn (who seems to play the `curmudgeonly uncle' more often than not – this is the second time I've seen him play uncle to de Havilland), Jack Carson (of Mildred Pierce fame) as Cummings' best friend and a really sour-faced Jane Wyman as Carson's wife.

Princess O'Rourke isn't a well-known film or even a great film, but it certainly has its charm. My recommendation is to watch this film if it comes around on cable but it is average enough to not make it worthwhile to actively seek out.

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PRINCESS O'ROURKE (Norman Krasna, 1943) **1/2
Bunuel197619 February 2014
This certainly ranks among the weakest winners of a top Oscar (best original screenplay, written by the director) from Hollywood's golden age; interestingly enough, all its competitors were not only war pictures (which may well have resulted in a lockdown!) but superior to it – AIR FORCE, IN WHICH WE SERVE (1942), THE NORTH STAR and, the only one I have yet to watch, SO PROUDLY WE HAIL! It is a frothy romantic comedy by Warner Bros. whose concern with nobility, tradition and duty must have seemed pretty old hat and not a little silly during wartime! Olivia De Havilland had outgrown her Errol Flynn leading lady mode by this time, landing even a couple of Academy Award nominations into the bargain – and two statuettes would be coming her way before the decade was out; with this in mind, comedy was never her forte, which is amply proved here – not that the role offered much in the way of inspiration!

While a modicum of pleasure is derived throughout from the complications that invariably arise when traveling European princess De Havilland is mistaken for a refugee by pilot Robert Cummings, it too often targets real neurotic ailments like Curt Bois' nervous tick and De Havilland's own insomnia (which sees her downing some six sleeping pills in quick succession from four different people!). In the heroine's eagerness to do her bit for the war effort, she even agrees to serve as a live dummy for trainee nurses.

The supporting cast includes old reliables such as Charles Coburn and a wasted Gladys Cooper as De Havilland's rather insufferable uncle (the exact opposite to his impish character in Ernst Lubitsch's HEAVEN CAN WAIT from the same year!) and secretary respectively, Jack Carson and a young Jane Wyman as Cummings' pal and his (atypically glamorous for her) wife, and Harry Davenport as a Justice of the Peace brought in to marry the two leads against Coburn's wishes.

The latter scene occurs during a state visit to the White House – where Cummings is eventually obliged to drop his American citizenship if he is to become Prince Consort (but which he vehemently refuses to do) – and which even presumes us to swallow the ruse that the American president would disguise himself as a cop and stand guard at the door behind which the clandestine ceremony is taking place!!
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Don't waste your time
rhoda-923 September 2017
IMDb reviews are not infallible, but they are usually reasonably reliable. Not so in this case. This movie is a combination of two popular contemporary themes, the princess who is mistaken for a commoner (or vice versa) and the hasty wartime marriage. Both are treated much better in every such movie I can think of. The themes have lost their appeal and relevance, and what we are left with is a very dull movie with a lame script and boring actors. Numerous reviews say this film is not just humorous but hilarious. I didn't laugh once. Didn't even smile.

Olivia de Havilland, of course, I exempt from the "boring" category. As ever she is sweet, charming, endearing, and thoroughly delightful. But opposite her is a blank space called Bob Cummings, who is superficial and puerile. How could anyone think that a character far less intelligent and educated than she could be a good match? His moment of trying to be masterful with de Havilland makes him look childishly bad-tempered, and the scene in which he struggles with correct terminology makes it embarrassingly obvious how dumb he is. It is also embarrassing that, for much of the movie, de Havilland is led to believe that, while she was unconscious, he undressed her and saw her naked. This is not funny--it is leering and distasteful. It is also out of character for de Havilland to become friendly, then romantic with someone who would do this. There are other foolishly unrealistic bits for the sake of a laugh--when she gets out of bed, for instance, wearing Cummings's pajamas, she nearly trips, as she has on pj's that look big enough for someone eight feet tall.

It's also bizarre that de Havilland, desperate to sleep, takes five sleeping pills. Later she is given two more. For heaven's sake, who doesn't know that taking several sleeping pills means you risk not waking up at all? Certainly not someone as sensible and educated as she is.

The other main male part is filled by Charles Coburn. When given amusing lines and when there is not too much of him, as in Heaven Can Wait or The Lady Eve, he can be amusingly rakish or crooked. Here, as the soul of propriety, and with nothing funny to say, he is just a boring blowhard--and hardly easy on the eye. Gladys Cooper is insulted by the role given her--this eminent and distinguished lady has only a few lines to say, none of them at all interesting.

On the plus side, the movie has Jack Carson and Jane Wyman (each very appealing, they make a very cute couple). But their parts are also too small and pretty feeble. And Jane Wyman isn't herself yet. I kept wondering when she was going to put in an appearance before I realised she was the actress with the long, blonde curly hair. Very disconcerting.

It's hard to get a dog wrong, but the makers of this movie could not even manage a nice Scotch terrier to impersonate President Roosevelt's dog, Fala. This one has very prominent teeth, and in closeups he looks rather alarming. I wouldn't trust him around my ankles.

While some flag-waving propaganda is understandable in a wartime movie, the filmmakers go too far when they present Bob Cummings with this "dilemma": He can marry a doll like Olivia de Havilland and have £150,000 spending money a year (think what that would be today!) if he gives up his American citizenship. I wonder how many men in the audience would immediately and vehemently turn that down!

I originally was drawn to this movie because I thought it was based on the Damon Runyon story of the same title, about a female hack driver and her horse named Goldberg. THAT is a really good story, it is really funny (I laughed out loud at the end), and a smaller and more profitable investment of your time than this piece of junk.
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Why wasn't Norman Krasna credited for Roman Holiday?
twhiteson29 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
As others have noted, this 1943 film bears more than a passing resemblance to William Wyler's 1953 film, "Roman Holiday" which turned its leading actress, Audrey Hepburn, into an Oscar-winning, overnight star. "Roman Holiday" is considered a classic of the romantic comedy genre, but its predecessor, "Princess O'Rourke" has been forgotten with the exception of occasional showings on TCM.

The plot: lonely, unhappy Princess Maria (a lovely Olivia De Havilland) is on an American public relations tour during the midst of WWII while her exiled family remains in the UK. Her uncle (Charles Coburn) gruffly supervises her every minute. Frustrated and bored with her structured schedule and her very limited social circle, Maria sees herself as a caged bird. That all changes when she plans to travel to the west coast and due to series of misunderstandings is drugged with a host of sleeping pills. As a result, she passes out on her plane's pilot, Eddie O'Rourke, (Bob Cummings) who has no idea who she is due to her traveling incognito. She wakes to find herself in Eddie's bed and even wearing his pajamas! Intrigued by what occurred the previous night because she can't recall, Maria agrees to go out on a date with Eddie and his two married friends (Jack Carson and Jane Wyman). Maria keeps her true identity secret while romantic sparks fly with Eddie, who feeling the pinch of time with his about to join the service and feeling sorry for this "poor refugee" recklessly asks her to marry him?!?! Of course, Maria knows she can't marry an American commoner, but there is the possibility that wartime contingencies could make an exception.

If you've ever seen "Roman Holiday" then a lot of the above plot synopsis should sound familiar. Everything from the lonely princess to the inadvertent drugging to the meeting by chance the handsome young American to her waking in his bed wearing his pajamas to keeping her identity secret while enjoying a typical date to the princess knowing her obligations prevent her from following her heart appeared to have been taken from this film and imported to "Roman Holiday." However, Norman Krasna, who wrote "Princess O'Rourke" and received an Oscar for that script, is not credited for "Roman Holiday." Nor is there any evidence of a lawsuit being initiated for copyright infringement even though it appears it would have been a slam-dunk case.

"Roman Holiday" is a superior film. "Princess O'Rourke" is even fluffier than that romantic film. It also bogs down with WWII propaganda and really loses its way with its unbelievable happy ending. It appears the creators of "Roman Holiday" recognized the stuff that worked, but also were smart enough to ditch the stuff that didn't. "Roman Holiday's" bittersweet ending is one of the big reasons it's remembered as a classic, but "Princess O'Rourke" couldn't resist giving its WWII audience a cheap smile at the end which is probably a big reason why it's forgotten.
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Things change
paulbpage24 August 2013
Looked at with 70 years distance, the 'charming romantic comedy' involves a princess being drugged, stripped and dumped at a safe house in New York. One can imagine the developments being portrayed in a somewhat different way. And it's not to be hard on the movie - Olivia De Havilland is absolutely superb in a light comic turn - but it is interesting to see how society has changed and the little things taken for granted in the movie, such as a flight crew handing out sleeping pills to a passenger, are thoroughly anathema today. That said, it's De Havilland's performance that carries it. You can see Robert Cummings forming the light character that he would perfect to an annoying degree in the coming years.
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