Nice mention of “Naughty Marietta”

by Steven Uhles, Augusta Chronicle

It’s rare that there isn’t some princess action happening at my house. I am the father of a 4-year-old, and, like so many children of her gender and age, she has a thing for princesses. For the most part, this manifests itself in the expected Disney ways, with a well-worn copy of Cinderella getting a lot of DVD play. It’s also a current career choice, although in all fairness, it receives stiff competition from dentistry and rock star.

Still, give the girl a tiara, flouncy gown and a ball to wear them to, and she’ll be happy.

So, in honor of the little Princess Uhles, I’d like to present the following list of princess films, nary a one produced by the Mouse House. That would be too easy.

ROMAN HOLIDAY (1953): Although it might be argued that Gregory Peck is playing Cary Grant in this film, there are charm and chemistry between him as an American newsman in Rome and Audrey Hepburn as a princess on the lam.

THE THIEF OF BAGDAD (1940): This special effects spectacular has aged much better than the later Disney version. Sabu stars as the thief; Conrad Veidt chews scenery as the villain Jaffar; and, in the all-important princess role, the rarely seen June Duprez, who retired from film in the late 1940s.

THE PRISONER OF ZENDA (1937): Part swashbuckler, part romantic comedy and part Prince and the Pauper rehash, this immensely enjoyable movie about a prince pretender and the royal to whom he is falsely engaged is the very lightest sort of Saturday matinee treat. Ronald Colman stars as both the real and pretender prince, and the lovely Madeleine Carroll stars as Princess Flavia, who begins to uncover the truth behind the deception.

THE SWAN (1956): MGM celebrated the engagement of Grace Kelly to Monaco’s Prince Rainier by resurrecting an old script about a young princess in love for the soon-to-be-royal actress to star in. This is neither Ms. Kelly’s finest role nor film, but given the historical perspective that surrounds it, it’s a lot of fun.

NAUGHTY MARIETTA (1935): In this Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy vehicle, the princess in question hops a slow boat to New Orleans to escape an undesired marriage. In the Big Easy, she finds herself falling for the mercenary who saved her from pirates. Awkward. In true MacDonald/Eddy fashion, all problems are resolved with the aid of a heartfelt ballad, in this case the classic Sweet Mystery of Life .