Friday, December 30, 2005

Tonight's Movie: The Swan (1956)

THE SWAN is one of the last two movies Grace Kelly made before she became a real-life princess, and appropriately enough, she plays a princess in this film of Ferenc Molnar's play.

Shy Princess Alexandra needs to marry a visiting crown prince (Alec Guinness) in order to save the family fortune, but finds herself unexpectedly attracted to her brothers' tutor (Louis Jourdan). The film begins a bit slowly but picks up speed in the second hour as the characters drop their facades and expose their true feelings. It's an amusing and somewhat bittersweet tale.

The grand supporting cast includes Jessie Royce Landis, Estelle Winwood, and Leo G. Carroll. The movie threatens to be stolen by Brian Aherne, as a kind-hearted member of the royal family who is a monk, and Agnes Moorehead as the Queen, who breezes in near the end and has the best line in the movie.

The palace exteriors were filmed at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina.

THE SWAN was filmed in CinemaScope but currently is available only in a pan-and-scan video.

Update: THE SWAN is now available on DVD in a remastered widescreen print from the Warner Archive.


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