When I bought the video by accident, I was expecting a cliche-type of movie. The kind of sugary set-ups Hollywood dishes to its innocent 1950's audience. But as the movie progressed, this assumption was immediately put in doubt. Halfway through it, I was so engrossed by the characters and the story, that I had no idea how it would all end and who would get the girl. That's how well-written this movie is. It makes you sympathetic to all the characters. Here, there is no one person who is the designated evil one. The only villain here is the social situation. A situation that has the characters caged by their social positions and what is expected of them.
Grace Kelly plays Princess Alexandra, a member of a royal family without its own throne or crown. Predictably, Alexandra's mother hopes her beautiful daughter will marry the Crown Prince Albert (the excellent Alec Guinness) so they may regain the family's prestige and financial security. Alexandra knows this is her duty and the rest of the royal family , including the tutor, Professor Agi (Louis Jourdan), who happens to be secretly in love with the remote Princess, understands this. But when the Prince visits the family, he is indiffirent to Alexandra, finding her cold and icy. Beatrice, Alexandra's mother, desperate to snag the Prince, orders her daughter to flirt with the unsuspecting Professor in order to make the Prince jealous. But things get complicated when real feelings are finally revealed.
Much of the success of this movie cna be credited to the witty script and the excellent performance of the cast. Grace Kelly was perfect as the elegant Princess who seemed unattainable. She is an excellent actress. Her gradual transformation from remote icicle to a woman deeply in love is a marvel to watch. It is a finely shaded performance wherein she slowly peels away each layer of her icy veneer to reveal a very human and romantic heroine. Louis Jourdan as the Professor is at par with Kelly. His was a very open performance, perfectly in tune with the Professor's innocent character. He is dashing and handsome, yet so vulnerable at the same time. You can't help but root for him 'til the end. His chemistry with Kelly is also electric. You can feel every romantic yearning the two characters have for each other, even without any words being said. In fact, one of the most romantic scenes in this movie is one that has zero dialogue. This is the scene where the Princess and the Professor dance the waltz. Here, we gradually see the Princess returning the Professor's feelings as he gazes at her with all his romantic hopes. Alec Guinness is every inch a prince. He is witty and gracious, but very aware of his rank and self-importance. Guiness pull off the role with so much dignity and humor that you can't help but like the guy.
The supporting characters are also fun to watch. Uncle Karl is wise and understanding, even if he does kinda help in maneuvering the Princess to take a hold of her feelings. Beatrice is also interesting as a more subdued Mrs.Bennet type of character. Aunt Synforosa and the two young princes provide much of the comic relief in the movie.
It's amazing how a film so grounded in reality could inspire so much romance. Despite its bittersweet flavor, you can't help but sigh when you see how beautiful Alexandra and the Professor look together. They just seem so right for each other. But then, hearing Uncle Karl's advice and Prince Albert's pragmatic statement, you find yourself sadly nodding in agreement. It reminds you once again that love and romance are luxuries royals cannot afford.
Nevertheless, the movie still makes the viewer root and cheer for love, being the underdog that it is. For that achievement alone, this movie ought to be rendered one of the best classics in Hollywood. In fact, this viewer wouldn't mind a remake or a sequel to be produced in the near future. Thanks for reading.