By Lara Gabrielle Fowler
Murder mystery meets screwball comedy in this unique yarn, in which Carole Lombard stars as Princess Olga, a rather suspicious-sounding Swedish princess on a boat to the United States, and Fred MacMurray is her love interest with a criminal past.
We soon learn that Princess Olga is not a princess at all, but rather Wanda Nash, a Brooklyn girl who is posing as such in order to land a movie contract. Her love interest is King Mantell, a fellow passenger and famous concertina player who takes to Princess Olga immediately. As it turns out, King Mantell has been in trouble with the law, and there is a blackmailer on board by the name of Darcy who threatens to expose Mantell and Wanda for all they’re worth. When Darcy is mysteriously found dead in Princess Olga’s room, all hell breaks loose as the authorities try to figure out what happened.
The premise is good and clever, and there are some really golden comedy moments in this movie, mostly involving Carole. Her imitation of a Swedish princess is a clear tribute to the speaking style of Greta Garbo, and she pulls it off with great aplomb.
The Princess Comes Across allowed Carole to demonstrate her considerable skill in imitating accents. As a child in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Carole (then known by her birth name of Jane Peters) was known among the residents in her neighborhood for her gift of mimicry. A favorite pasttime was putting on shows for her relatives and friends, in which she would imitate the great screen stars and delight her audience. Carole considered The Princess Comes Across to be one of her favorite movies, as it reminded her of the thrill she got as a child, imitating her favorite performers for friends and family.
This movie is available on the Carole Lombard Glamour Collection, which is really a terrific buy for any Carole fan. I have found it very helpful, as it consolidates 6 of Carole’s movies, some of which are relatively rare, into one set. Check it out, if you haven’t already!
See you next time!