When his bride-to-be finds him much too stiff, heir to the throne Prince Karl is sent off to the university in Heidelberg to learn how to socialize. He makes friends with the students there and falls for the down-to-earth Kathie, a barmaid. The two are soul mates, but when Karl's grandfather the king falls ill, he must choose between his country and his own happiness...Written by
In August 1952 Mario Lanza recorded the soundtrack. The whole recording was done in single takes. Every phrase in it was Lanza magic at its best. However, on the film set things were not to go well at all. The first scene to be shot was the song "Beloved" on the terrace. Director Curtis Bernhardt did not like the way the song was sung and corrected Lanza, telling him that he was putting too much emotion in his singing instead of sounding more stuffy and rigid like a Prussian prince. Lanza informed Bernhardt that he was to direct only his acting, and that Lanza's singing was strictly Lanza's department. Bernhardt would not accept this, and Lanza would not be told how to sing by a movie director. The end result was that Lanza walked off the set and vowed not to return as long as Bernhardt was the director. The studio took an injunction against Lanza for damages and losses. He could not perform in public, on radio, or in the recording studio for the remaining time of his contract with MGM (which was then 15 months). A solution was reached in May 1953: the studio would remove the embargo on Lanza if he would allow his voice to be used while another actor played the part of the prince. This was agreed to and the filming got under way with Edmund Purdom lip-synching Lanza, which he did marvelously. The irony is that when the film was finally made, the director was no longer Bernhardt, but Richard Thorpe, who had worked harmoniously with Lanza on The Great Caruso (1951). See more »
At 25:55, when Ruder tells Kathie the Prince has arrived. See more »
Despite needing a better director, The Student Prince is still very entertaining and looks and sounds great
Fans of Mario Lanza and operetta will find The Student Prince a treat to watch and to listen to. The Student Prince is not a faithful treatment of Romberg's operetta('mangled' is pretty apt here), but to me that didn't matter, what was more important was how The Student Prince fared on its own merits as a film and it fares very well.
It has sumptuous production values in costumes, lighting and most sets(apart from a couple of very studio bound-looking outdoor exteriors) and is shot in lavish Technicolour, so it looks pleasing. Romberg's score is stylish and whimsical and his songs wonderful, both in the operetta and in the film. In the film, the standout songs and renditions are Deep in my Heart, Dear, Serenade and the very emotional I'll Walk with God. The Student Prince also boasts some very witty dialogue, an engaging story that still resonates today and is less creaky than the story of the operetta(better than any of the stories from any of the films with Mario Lanza on screen) and the ending is heart-breaking.
Even when Lanza is not on screen(he was meant to originally star in the leading man role) and present in voice only, he still makes a great impression. Lanza had one of the most beautiful and most immediately recognisable voices for any tenor and even singer, and he sounds magnificent here as to be expected, his phrasing, vocal emotion and musicality also top-tier. Edmund Perdum had a truly daunting task replacing Lanza and then having to act to his singing voice, and he does a more than credible job with it, while stiff in demeanour at times(but that worked for the character actually) he plays the role with more likability and and charm than Lanza most likely would have done if he did it. Ann Blyth is radiant and noble as well as playing with natural spunk, her voice blending very nicely with Lanza's. Edmund Gwenn, Louis Calhern, John Williams and SZ Sakall provide seasoned support.
On the other hand, Richard Thorpe's direction is very limp and lacking inspiration in places, some scenes that came over as a little tedious as a result did cry out for a more light-footed and wittier touch, something that Vincente Minnelli would have brought if he'd been chosen. Some of the additional dialogue veers on a bit banal and corny, though most of the dialogue sparkles.
In conclusion, looks and sounds wonderful and an entertaining film. 8/10 Bethany Cox
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