Sunday, April 18, 2021

Tonight's Movie: The Princess Comes Across (1936) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Kino Lorber has just released a second set of Carole Lombard films on Blu-ray, the Carole Lombard Collection II.

The titles in the set are three very enjoyable mid '30s romantic comedies: HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE (1935), LOVE BEFORE BREAKFAST (1936), and the film I'm currently reviewing, THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS (1936).

I reviewed THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS here very briefly in 2006, and I don't believe I've seen it in the intervening years. I've always had a particular interest in Carole Lombard, as I wrote about here, and it was a definite treat to circle back to his movie after nearly 15 years.

Lombard has a perfect role as haughty Princess Olga of Sweden, who is sailing from Europe to America with her lady-in-waiting, Lady Gertrude (Alison Skipworth). Princess Olga's ultimate destination is Hollywood, where a movie contract awaits. Lombard's spin on her character, playing the princess as a very recognizable Greta Garbo type character, is delightful.

There's just one wrinkle: Princess Olga may not be precisely who she seems to be, which is quickly deduced by one of her fellow passengers, band leader King Mantell (Fred MacMurray). Mantell, having overcome an unfortunate youth (jail was involved), is headed to New York for an engagement at Radio City Music Hall.

Mantell and the Princess gradually realize an attraction for one another, but it's not easy to work out, what with her being a princess. More importantly, they're both soon wrapped up in a murder mystery evolving on board the ship!

Fortunately, a group of world-famous sleuths (Sig Ruman, Douglass Dumbrille, Mischa Auer, Lumsden Hare, and Tetsu Komai) just happen to be on board, and they set about solving the mystery.

'30s cruise ship movies are second only to train movies as some of my very favorite types of films. There's something that's simply great fun about a group of interesting people all gathered for travel on an elegant Paramount Pictures cruise ship! Add in romance, screwball comedy, and mystery, and you have the ingredients for an entertaining movie.

Lombard is wonderfully daffy in the role, jumping to seriousness when needed, and for an added bonus she wears a gorgeous wardrobe by the great Travis Banton. Lombard is extremely well matched with her frequent costar, MacMurray, who gets to show off some of his musical ability in the movie.

Lombard and MacMurray were also teamed in another film in the set, HANDS ACROSS THE TABLE, to be reviewed here in the near future.

The supporting cast also includes William Frawley, George Barbier, Porter Hall, and George Chandler. The entire cast is grand, a gathering of great faces only possible in classic-era Hollywood, and the film's 76 minutes fly by.

THE PRINCESS COMES ACROSS was directed by William K. Howard and filmed by future director Ted Tetzlaff. Tetzlaff gives the crime scenes deliciously spooky shadows, while other scenes are wonderfully glamorous.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray is lovely, with excellent sound. Extras are a commentary track by Allan Arkush and Daniel Kremer, along with a trailer gallery for three additional films available from Kino Lorber.

Reviews of films from Kino Lorber's Carole Lombard Collection I: FAST AND LOOSE (1930), MAN OF THE WORLD (1931), and NO MAN OF HER OWN (1932).

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger dfordoom said...

Lombard really was the queen of screwball comedy.

Are you a fan of TWENTIETH CENTURY which some people seem to consider to be the first genuine screwball comedy?

9:01 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I love Carole Lombard, but TWENTIETH CENTURY, like her film NOTHING SACRED, has not particularly impressed me despite its reputation. That said, I haven't seen TWENTIETH CENTURY for years and am open to rewatching it again to see if my opinion will change.

Best wishes,

9:17 AM  

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