|The Swan (1956) |
Fun Fact: This film was released the same day Grace Kelly became a real princess - April 18, 1956, the day she married Prince Ranier of Monoco .
Fun Fact: Many thought this would be Grace Kelly's "swan song". She would star in only 1 film after this, High Society, released July 17, 1956 .
|PR Ad, 1956|
I'm doing to start right off the bat with disclosing my bias. I have never understood the actress Grace Kelly. She seems so cold to me. Pleasant enough to look at and clearly beautiful, she seems like the real Frozen princess - pretty to look at, but nothing going on in the head. Watching her as a leading lady, I have no interest in her past, what makes her tick, who she is, why we care about her, etc. I just can't care enough. If anything she is beautiful, and beauty itself has value. But the difficulty comes when you have a plot driven by characters. When the main character causes little interest, it's difficult to become involved in the film. She seems ornamental and I could care less what happened to her character because of the acting. The tutor is sooo much more interesting.
|Helen Rose (Costume Designer) and Grace Kelly|
The plot of the film is this: Grace Kelly plays Princess Alexandra, the princess of a household whom has fallen on desperate times. Since she is clearly beautiful, she is charged with saving the family through a good marriage. Her mother, played by the delightful Jessie Royce Landis, is obsessed with resurrecting the family and is certain Alexandra is the only one who has the ability to do this for their family. The logical things is to look towards distant family members who have money and titles.
|Grace Kelly Makeup Test|
|Grace enjoying a picnic on set|
I feel like Prince Albert is quite aware of what is going on. He knows what he has to offer. It has not been his first time to the rodeo, as the expression goes. He knows what Princess Beatrix is trying to do, and is resentful of it. In fact, he seems to go out of his way to avoid the concept by spending time with the tutor, Dr. Nicholas Agi, played amazingly well by Louis Jourdan. Agi is the tutor of Princess Beatrix's two boys.
|Grace Kelly and Louis Jordain|
If you don't think Louis Jourdan is delicious in this film, you don't have a pulse. He plays the tutor - strong, smart, and handsome. He and Princess Alexandra have a connection. They fence together every morning. Naturally, sparks fly. They don't realize they have feelings for each other until Prince Albert appears. The appearance of another man makes them both realize that they both love each other and wish they could be together. Unfortunately, the social restrictions of the day prevent that.
|Grace Kelly's Birthday Celebrated on Set|
|Model at Premiere - I assume she is|
also wearing Bjork's swan dress
Of course nothing good can come from the relationship between Princess Alexandra and the tutor, Dr. Nicholas. He is charming, smart, handsome, witty, and more. Who wouldn't want to run away with him? Princess Beatrix notices this fact, so she exploits it. She plans a ball, and invites the clearly not eligible tutor. The tutor is supposed to be used to make Prince Albert jealous. And it works. Prince Albert and Princess Alexandra run away for a midnight rendezvous. They tell each other of their feelings and plan for the future. At least, that is what Princess Alexandra thinks. She makes plan to run away with Nicholas, determined to marry for love - not position. This seemed rather out of the blue - not only does she suddenly find out she has feelings, but is in love and must run away.
Unfortunately for her, Nicholas is much more practical. He sees the reality of the situation and tells Princess Alexandra to forget him. He decides to go away and start a new life. It really would be untenable for him to live in a situation where he loved a woman and couldn't have her. And even though Princess Alexandra agreed to run away with him, Nicholas knew that she could not live the life of a tutor. She was used to wealth, position, money, and more. Things he couldn't provide.
|Charles Vidor, Grace Kelly, and Louis Jourdan|
|Life Magazine; April 6, 1954|
|Grace Kelly and Louis Jourdan on set|
|Winwood, Aherne, Guinness, and Moorehead in The Swan|
Performances by Estelle Winwood, Jesse Royce Landis, Brian Aherne, Louis Jourdan, and the talented Agnes Moorehead make this film worth viewing. The costumes by Helen Rose are a wonderful sight to behold - MGM costuming at it's best. The setting is also breathtaking. You may visit the location yourself. The Swan was filmed at The Biltmore in Asheville, NC .
|Grace Kelly's Wedding Dress|
Note - Warner Archive is not paying me nor giving me films. I just love that they have films that are hard to find. Not that I wouldn't mind if they did. :)
(Shameless begging for freebies)
Fun Fact: Helen Rose, the costume designer for this film also created the lovely confection of a gown Grace Kelly wore at her wedding . Who wouldn't adore a wedding dress made by MGM's costume designer?
1. Purchase at Warner Archive.
2. The Swan (1956), IMDB, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049815/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv
3. High Society (1956), IMDB, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0049314/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_1
4. Biltmore, http://www.biltmore.com/
5. Wedding Dress of Grace Kelly, wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_dress_of_Grace_Kelly