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A Few More Screen Princes

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Prince Harry has revealed that he left a lot of material out of Spare and has more than enough for a second book. Funnily enough, the same is true for Cinema Paradiso when it comes to films and TV shows about princes. Only we can guarantee a few happy ever afters.

In Top 10 Films and Shows About British Princes, Cinema Paradiso explored how historical heirs and spares have been depicted on screen over the last 125 years. In covering events from the Angevins to the Windsors, we encountered the odd rogue, some tragic victims, a doomed pretender, a modish opportunist, and a fair few dysfunctional fathers and sons. As we shall see below, these types have also been plentiful on the continent down the centuries. But let's not forget those princes from the pages of fairytales and swashbuckling adventures, who have reached the screen in both live-action and animated movies.

Hapsburgs and Romanovs

The recent cinema release of Marie Kreutzer's Corsage exposed the stifling conventions of the Hapsburg court in the mid-19th century. While revealing that the Empress Elisabeth (the excellent Vicky Krieps) wrote the playbook when it came to royal rebellion, the film also explored the frosty relationship between Sissi and her son, Crown Prince Rudolf (Aaron Friesz). He would commit suicide in 1889, in despair at the opposition to his romance with Baroness Mary Vetsera. They were aged 30 and 17 respectively and they have been played by Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux and Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve in films entitled Mayerling, which were respectively directed by Anatole Litvak and Terence Young in 1936 and 1968.

In an inspired piece of anachronism, Kreutzer has Sissi meet cinema pioneer Louis Le Prince (Finnegan Oldfield), whose camera liberates her and allows the embattled empress to be herself. Le Prince could lay claim to have produced the first successful moving images at Roundhay in Leeds in 1888. But he was unable to complete his work, as he mysteriously disappeared in France two years later. His story is compellingly told by Rawlence in The Missing Reel (1990) and David Nicholas Wilkinson in The First Film (2015), which both should really be available on disc.

A still from Fall of Eagles (1974)
A still from Fall of Eagles (1974)

The tragedy at the Mayerling hunting lodge is featured in Fall of Eagles (1974), the BBC's impeccable series about the collapse of Europe's monarchical system after the Great War, the build-up to which is expertly laid out in Nathan Kroll's The Guns of August (1964) and another fine BBC title, 37 Days (2014). Although its focus fell on emperors, kaisers, and tsars, Fall of Eagles did namecheck the odd prince, including Prince Albert (Frank Thornton), Crown Prince Wilhelm (Colin Baker), and Prince Max of Baden (Laurence Hardy). It also touched upon the tragedy of Tsarevich Alexei (Piers Flint-Shipman), the Romanov heir whose haemophilia led to Grigori Rasputin gaining influence at the court of Nicholas II.

Several films have been made about this period, including Esfir Shub's The Fall of the Romanov Dynasty (1927), which includes archive footage of the young Alexei. He was played by Tad Alexander in Richard Boleslawski's Rasputin and the Empress (1932), Robert Duncan in Don Sharp's Rasputin the Mad Monk (1966), Roderic Noble in Franklin J. Schaffner's Nicholas and Alexandra (1971), and Alexander Schefler in Matthew Vaughan's The King's Man (2021).

Alexei was, of course, the younger brother of the Grand Duchess Anastasia, who was played by the Oscar-winning Ingrid Bergman in Anatole Litvak's Anastasia (1956) and voiced by Meg Ryan in Don Bluth's animated saga, Anastasia (1997). The Romanov siblings can also be seen briefly in Aleksandr Sokurov's remarkable Russian Ark (2002), which was filmed in a single tracking shot at the Hermitage in St Petersburg.

Moses and Hamlet - Together At Last

Of course, there were princes long before they held sway across 19th century Europe. If Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner, and Simon Wells's animation, The Prince of Egypt (1998), is to be believed, Moses (Val Kilmer) was taken into the ruling family on being adopted by Pharaoh's wife, Queen Tuya (Helen Mirren). So, even though he would have renounced any princely title he might have received before leading the Israelites out of Egypt, we're going to remain in denial and include Moses in our survey.

He was played by Theodore Roberts in Cecil B. De Mille's 1923 silent, The Ten Commandments, before Charlton Heston took over the Red Sea-parting duties in De Mille's epic 1956 sound remake. The same title was also used by Robert Dornhelm in 2006 and Bill Boyce for his 2007 animation, when Dougray Scott and Christian Slater essayed Moses. Intriguingly, Ben Kingsley, who narrated the latter, had played Moses in Roger Young's live-action drama, The Bible: Moses (1995), which took the story a lot more seriously than Mel Brooks did while taking the tablets in History of the World, Part 1 (1981).

These actors were following in the sandal prints of Burt Lancaster in Gianfranco De Bosio's Moses the Lawgiver (1974), since when the part has been taken by John Marley in The Greatest Heroes of the Bible (1979), William Houston in Roma Downey and Mark Burnett's The Bible (2013), and Christian Bale in Ridley Scott's Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014).

A still from Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
A still from Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

Speaking of Christian Bale, we have Saxo Grammaticus to thank for our knowledge of the mythical Dane he played in Gabriel Axel's Prince of Jutland (1994). The spelling changed from Amled to Amleth when Alexander Skarsgård took on the role in Robert Eggers's The Northman (2022). But William Shakespeare has ensured that this prince of Denmark will always be best known as Hamlet.

Reportedly, there are around 80 different screen versions of Hamlet - and, before you ask, Georges Méliès did make the first in 1907. Cinema Paradiso has more than most to offer its customers on high-quality DVD and Blu-ray, with pride of place going to Laurence Olivier's Hamlet (1948), which not only won Best Picture, but also saw Olivier become the first man to direct himself to the Academy Award for Best Actor.

Having produced several important films with Leonid Trauberg (some under the banner of FEKS, the Factory of the Eccentric Actor), Grigori Kozintsev followed a peerless adaptation of Cervantes's Don Quixote (1957) with innovative versions of Hamlet (1964) and King Lear (1970). Filmed in Sovscope widescreen and featuring Innokenty Smoktunovsky as the Prince of Denmark, the former won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival for its striking visual style and a bold approach to the theme of power. Subsequent versions have included Tony Richardson's Hamlet (1969), with Nicol Williamson; Derek Jacobi in Rodney Bennett's Hamlet (1980) for the BBC Television Shakespeare; Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet (1990), with Mel Gibson; Nicholas Farrell in the Natalya Orlova version in Shakespeare: The Animated Tales (1992); Kenneth Branagh in the self-directed Hamlet (1996), which unusually used the Bard's complete text; and Greg Doran's Hamlet (2009), which recorded David Tennant's triumphant performance for the Royal Shakespeare Company.

A number of pictures have artfully reworked Hamlet in other guises, most notably Edgar G. Ulmer's Strange Illusion (1945), Akira Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well (1960), Claude Chabrol's Ophélia (1963), Enzo G. Castellari's Johnny Hamlet (1968), Rick Moranis and Dave Thomas's Strange Brew (1983), Aki Kaurismäki's Hamlet Goes Business (1987), Michael Almereyda's Hamlet (2000), and Claire McCarthy's Ophelia (2018), with George MacKay as Hamlet. Based on a novel by Lisa Klein, the latter takes several cues from Tom Stoppard's hit play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1990), which also gave Disney the idea for the characters of Timon the meerkat and Pumbaa the warthog in Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff's The Lion King (1994).

Much fun can be had spotting snippets of Hamlet in the unlikeliest of places. If you fancy playing along with friends and family, the pictures you will need include Lowell Sherman's Morning Glory (1933), Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be (1942), Frank Launder's The Pure Hell of St Trinian's (1960), James Ivory's Shakespeare Wallah (1965), Joseph McGrath's The Magic Christian (1969), Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) (1972), Douglas Hickox's Theatre of Blood (1973), István Szabó's Mephisto (1981), John Schlesinger's An Englishman Abroad (1983, which can be found on Alan Bennett at the BBC ), Bruce Robinson's Withnail and I (1986), Arthur Hiller's Outrageous Fortune (1987), John McTiernan's Last Action Hero (1993), Kenneth Branagh's In the Bleak Midwinter (1995), and Andrew Fleming's Hamlet 2 (2008).

While we're on the subject of Shakespeare, let us point you in the direction of those princes who don't crop up in the Histories we have already covered in Top 10 Films About British Princes. First up is Escalus, Prince of Verona, who has his hands full with the Montagues and Capulets in Romeo and Juliet. He was played by Ennio Flaiano in Renato Castellani's 1954 version, starring Laurence Harvey and Susan Shentall. Robert Stephens took over for Franco Zeffirelli's 1968 adaptation, which recently hit the headlines when Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey sued over its use of nudity. Subsequently, Laurence Naismith inherited the title for Alvin Rakoff's 1978 BBC version, while Curtis Vondie-Hall gave the character a new MO, as the Police Chief of Verona Beach in Baz Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996).

In Jack Gold's BBC Television Shakespeare rendition of The Merchant of Venice (1980), the princes of Morocco (Mark Zuber) and Arragon (Peter Gale) fail in their bids to win the favour of Portia (Gemma Jones). David Harewood and Antonio Gil endured similar disappointment in Michael Radford's 2004 big-screen interpretation, which paired Jeremy Irons and Al Pacino as Antonio and Shylock. The Prince of Tyre (Mike Gwilim) flees into one crisis after another after solving a portentous riddle in David Jones's BBC take on Pericles (1984), while the same season teamed Jon Finch and Vernon Dobtcheff as brothers Don Pedro and Don John in Stuart Burge's Much Ado About Nothing. When Kenneth Branagh tackled the comedy in 1993, the siblings were played by Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves.

A Touch of the Historicals

A still from Alexander Nevsky (1938)
A still from Alexander Nevsky (1938)

The vast majority of the films made about European princes have never been released on disc in the UK. However, Cinema Paradiso has some choice examples among the 100,000+ titles in its unrivalled catalogue. Among the most significant is Sergei Eisenstein's Alexander Nevsky (1938), which chronicles the career of the 13th-century Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev, who protected his territories against Teutonic invaders. He is played in the film by Nikolai Cherkasov, who would also star as the Grand Prince of Moscow in Eisenstein's Ivan the Terrible (1944) and Ivan the Terrible: The Boyars' Plot, which was completed 1946, but only released in 1958, a decade after the director's death.

Currently unavailable is Orson Welles's performance as Cesare Borgia in Henry King's Prince of Foxes (1949). Strictly speaking, the son of Pope Alexander VI wasn't a prince. But, as he provided the inspiration for Niccolò Machiavelli's masterly 1532 treatise on statecraft, The Prince, we feel it's only fair to highlight the turns of Oliver Cotton in the BBC series, The Borgias (1981), François Arnaud in Neil Jordan and David Leland's The Borgias (2011-13), and Mark Ryder in Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson's Borgia (2011-14).

While the heir to the English/British throne was known as the Prince of Wales, the title employed in France was 'Dauphin'. The future Charles VII is absent from Carl Theodor Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), but he appeared in the form of José Ferrer opposite Ingrid Bergman in Victor Fleming's Joan of Arc (1948). Richard Widmark took on the role alongside Jean Seberg in Otto Preminger's St Joan (1957), which was adapted from a George Bernard Shaw play by Graham Greene.

Naturally, Charles was at a safe distance from the proceedings in Robert Bresson's The Trial of Joan of Arc (1962), although André Marcon was on hand for the first part of Jacque Rivette's Jeanne la Pucelle: The Battles and Jeanne la Pucelle: The Prisons (both 1994), which featured an outstanding performance by Sandrine Bonnaire. Milla Jovovich also showed to advantage alongside John Malkovich's Charles in Luc Besson's The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc (1999). The same year saw Leelee Sobieski play the Maid in Christian Duguay's Canadian mini-series, Joan of Arc, which co-starred Neil Patrick Harris as the Dauphin.

Most recently, Fabrice Luchini excelled in the role opposite Lise Leplat Prudhomme in Bruno Dumont's remarkable and unfairly spurned, Joan of Arc (2019), which continued the action started in the fascinating musical, Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc (2017). Before leaving France, we should also note that Louis XVI was still the Daupin when he was first introduced to the Austrian princess who would become his bride in Sofia Coppola's Marie Antoinette (2006), which paired Jason Schwartzman and Kirsten Dunst.

Our pursuit of cine-princes next takes us to Siam, where Prince Chulalongkorn, the heir to King Mongkut, is played by Tito Renaldo in John Cromwell's Anna and the King of Siam (1946), Patrick Adiarte in Walter Lang's The King and I (1956), and Keith Chin in Andy Tennant's Anna and the King (1999). However, prince is merely a term of convenience for actor Edwin Booth (Richard Burton) in Philip Dunne's Prince of Players (1955) and Oscar Wilde in The Happy Prince (2018), which saw Rupert Everett direct himself as the troubled Irish playwright.

Away from the aforementioned Hapsburgs, Hohenzollerns, and Romanovs, the 20th century threw up a mixed bag of princes for film-makers to focus on. Alec Guinness has been much criticised in retrospect for playing Prince Faisal in brownface in David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia (1962) - not that he learnt his lesson, as he did the same thing to essay Professor Godbole in Lean's A Passage to India (1984), after having been accused of giving an anti-Semitic reading of Fagin in the same director's Oliver Twist (1948).

A still from Grace Kelly (1983)
A still from Grace Kelly (1983)

Guinness also played Prince Albert in Charles Vidor's The Swan (1956), which was the last film made by Grace Kelly before she married Prince Rainier of Monaco. He has been played on screen by Ian McShane, opposite Cheryl Ladd in Anthony Page's Grace Kelly (1983), and by Tim Roth, alongside Nicole Kidman, in Olivier Dahan's Grace of Monaco (2014). Completing our history lesson is Erik Poppe's The King's Choice (2016), which centred on the dispute between King Haakon (Jesper Christiansen) and Crown Prince Olav (Anders Baasmo Christiansen) over how to respond to the Nazi occupation of Norway.

Disney Princes

Cinema Paradiso regulars might remember some of the love interests mentioned in our Brief History of Disney Heroines. Cleaving to the fairytale tradition, the studio founded by Walt Disney has largely focussed on princesses rather than princes in its animated features. Thus, while they may look good in a uniform or uphold the promise of a happy ending, the various kings in waiting (they're never spares, sorry Harry) are usually decorative, with only a couple actually rousing themselves to come to the rescue of their beleaguered beloveds.

Such is the Disney tendency to draw their princes as bland hunks, it's not easy to picture Prince Florian (Harry Stockwell) in David Hands's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), which gives you the perfect excuse to click on the order link and watch it all over again. He does get to play a key role in the finale, however, and is the subject of 'Someday My Prince Will Come', which came 19th in the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Songs list in 2004.

We still don't know who will be playing the prince in Marc Webb's live-action Snow White, alongside Rachel Zegler and Gal Gadot. But those impatient for a dashing prince could refer to Prince Alfred (Tyron Leitso) in Caroline Thompson's Snow White: The Fairest of Them All (2001), Prince Alexander (Jamie Thomas) in Rachel Lee Goldenberg's Snow White (aka Grimm's Snow White), and Prince Andrew Alcott, the Prince of Valencia (Armie Hammer), in Tarsem Singh's Mirror Mirror (both 2012).

Although the eponymous faun becomes the Great Prince of the Forest in David Hand's Disney classic, Bambi (1942), the best-known Disney prince is clearly Charming, who was voiced by William Edward Phipps and sung by Mike Douglas in Hamilton Luske, Wilfred Jackson, and Clyde Geronimi's Cinderella (1950). Christopher Daniel Barnes took over the role for John Kafka's Cinderella 2: Dreams Come True (2002) and Frank Nissen's Cinderella 3: A Twist in Time (2007), while Richard Madden took on the mantle of Prince Kit Charming for Kenneth Branagh's 2015 live-action variation, with Lily James as Cinders.

There are other incarnations available from Cinema Paradiso. For more details, see our two-part 'Brief History of Pantomime Stories on Film' Part 1 and Part 2. There you will find Prince Philip (Bill Shirley) in Clyde Geronomi's Sleeping Beauty (1959), who was fleshed out by Aussie Brenton Thwaites in Robert Stromberg's Maleficent (2014) and Brit Harris Dickinson (as the Prince of Ulstead) in Joachim Rønning's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019), which each starred Angelina Jolie in the title role and Elle Fanning as Aurora.

Such is the scarcity of princes in the Disney canon that audiences had to wait three decades for the next one to come along. He was Prince Eric (Christopher Daniel Barnes), who not only cropped up in John Musker and Ron Clements's The Little Mermaid (1989), but also in Jim Kammerud's sequel, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000). Not long to wait now until we get to see how Jonah Hauer-King gets to fare in the role alongside Halle Bailey in Rob Marshall's The Little Mermaid, which is due to hit cinemas in May 2023.

Only two years passed before Robby Benson voiced Prince Adam in Gary Trousdale and Kirk Wise's Beauty and the Beast (1991). He would also report for duty in Andrew Knight's Enchanted Christmas (1997) and Bob Kline's Belle's Magical World (1998). But Dan Stevens was recruited for Bill Condon's 2017 live-action adaptation, in which he was partnered by Emma Watson.

Scott Weinger also did three stints as Prince Ali Ababwa, as he followed John Musker and Ron Clements's Aladdin (1992) with Toby Shelton, Tad Stones, and Alan Zaslove's The Return of Jafar (1994) and Tad Stone's Aladdin and the Prince of Thieves (1996). However, he also had to settle solely for voiceover kudos, as Mena Massoud was chosen for the title role of Guy Ritchie's 2019 live-action take, which remembers that Aladdin was actually a street urchin before he started acting all princely.

A still from Tangled (2010)
A still from Tangled (2010)

The change of status was somewhat more drastic for Prince Naveen of Maldonia (Bruno Campos) in John Musker and Ron Clements's The Princess and the Frog (2009), a story that surely cries out for a Muppet remake (after Jim Henson's The Frog Prince, 1971), in which the handsome frog turns into a prince. In dealing with Rapunzel (Mandy Moore), Prince Eugene Fitzherbert Zachary Levi) prefers to go by the name Flynn Rider in Nathan Greno and Byron Howard's Tangled (2010). Considering she beans him with a frying pan, Flynn is a pretty decent chap. But the same can't be said for Prince Hans of the Southern Isles (Santino Fontana), who has the distinction of being the only villainous prince in Disney history in Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee's Frozen (2013).

Silhouettes to Pixels

Of all the princely tales on offer from Cinema Paradiso, perhaps the most striking is Lotte Reiniger's The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). The silent, silhouetted animation borrows a tale from the Arabian Nights and adds a wicked sorcerer, a flying horse, Aladdin, and the beautiful Princess Peri Banu. The ingenuity of the cut-out characters harks back to the tradition of shadow puppetry in cinema's pre-history. What a shame that no one has had the sense to release Werner Nekes's wondrous Film Before Film (1986) on DVD. It's mesmerising.

Such was Disney's dominance of the animation market that several decades would pass before regular feature competition started to appear. This allowed audiences to meet characters like Cinders (Dexter Fletcher) in Derek W. Hayes's reverse fairytale, Prince Cinders (1993), and Prince Derek (Howard McGillin) in Richard Rich's The Swan Princess (1994), the first in a 10-film series featuring Derek and Princess Odette. The following year brought Prince Cornelius (Gary Imhoff) in Don Bluth's Thumbelina (1994), which reworks the fable that Danny Kaye sings about in Charles Vidor's delightful biopic, Hans Christian Andersen (1952).

E.T.A. Hoffman created the story of the Nutcracker Prince and Cinema Paradiso has several animated versions on its books. Among them are traditional retellings, such as Paul Schibli's The Nutcracker Prince (1990), Toshiyuki Hiruma's The Nutcracker (1995), and Eduardo Schuldt's The Nutcracker Sweet (2015), as well as variations like Alistair Graham and Colin White's Katya and the Nutcracker (2002), Tatjana Ilyina's The Nutcracker and the Mouseking (2004), Spike Brandt's Tom and Jerry: A Nutcracker Tale (2007), Davis Doi's Angelina Ballerina: The Nutcracker Sweet (2010), and Viktor Glukhushin's The Nutcracker and the Magic Flute (2022). There are even live-action takes, including Carroll Ballard's Nutcracker (1986), Emile Ardolino's The Nutcracker (1993) and

Eric Till's The Christmas Nutcracker (2007), not to mention several productions of Pyotr Tchaikovsky's ballet.

Even Barbie gets in on the act with Prince Eric (Kirby Morrow) in Owen Hurley's Barbie in The Nutcracker (2001). She's also on more than just speaking terms with Prince Stefan (Mark Hildreth) in the same director's Barbie As Rapunzel (2002) and Prince Kieran (Andrew Francis) in Karen J. Lloyd's Barbie and the Secret Door (2014).

The spirit of Lotte Reiniger is evident as a prince and nurse's son set off to release the Djinn-fairy from captivity in Michel Ocelet's exotic odyssey, Azur and Asmar: The Princes' Quest (2006). But we're firmly in revisionist territory in Ross Venakur's Charming (2018), which sees Philippe Charming (Wilmer Valderrama) become engaged to three princesses at once, Cinderella (Ashley Tisdale), Snow White (Avril Lavigne), and Sleeping Beauty (G.E.M.). And can someone please release Hong Sung-ho and Jang Moo-Hyun's Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs (2019) on disc, if only so we can meet the drolly named Prince Average (Jim Rash).

Live-Action Fairytales

A still from Three Wishes for Cinderella (1973)
A still from Three Wishes for Cinderella (1973)

If we've learned anything from fables and folklore, it's that the course of true love rarely runs smoothly. Just ask Prince Charming (Jacques Perrin) in Jacques Demy's Donkey Skin (1970), whose hopes of marrying a princess (Catherine Deneuve) are dashed by her kingly father (Jean Marais), who is hoping to marry again following the death of his beloved wife. The heir to the throne finds his heart's desire to be equally out of reach in Václav Vorlicek's Czech-East German co-production, Three Wishes For Cinderella (1973). While hunting with his friends, the prince (Pavel Travnicek) is very much taken with the fearless girl (Libuše Šafránková) who rides his feisty horse, Dapples. But she disappears into the forest before he can ask her name.

The hero of Stanley Donen's adaptation of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's classic fable, The Little Prince (1974), is literally out of this world. as he (Steven Warner) comes from Asteroid B-612 in order to give a stranded pilot (Richard Kiley) the benefit of the wisdom that he has picked up from The Fox (Gene Wilder) and The Snake (Bob Fosse). Songs are provided by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, who shared their Oscar-nomination with transgender composer Angela Morley, who would repeat the feat in conjunction with siblings Richard M. and Robert S. Sherman on Bryan Forbes's The Slipper and the Rose (1976). This reworking of the Cinderella story teamed Gemma Craven and Richard Chamberlain as Prince Edward.

A magic carpet ride away from Euphrania is the Baghdad of Sinbad (Patrick Wayne), who has to lift the curse placed upon Prince Kassim (Damien Thomas) by his wicked stepmother, Zenobia (Margaret Whiting), in Sam Wanamaker's Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977). Similarly boasting special effects by stop-motion maestro Ray Harryhausen, this followed on from Nathan Juran's The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1957) and Gordon Hessler's The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973), which respectively starred Kerwin Matthews and John Philip Law as the sailor prince.

Another rescue mission preoccupies Prince Tamino (Josef Köstlinger) in Ingmar Bergman's The Magic Flute (1975), as he is dispatched by the Queen of the Night (Birgit Nordin) to deliver her daughter, Pamina (Irma Urrila), from Sarastro the high priest (Ulrik Cold). When Kenneth Branagh tackled Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's singspiel in 2006, Joseph Kaiser essayed the prince, while Lyubov Petrova, Amy Carson, and René Pape joined him in singing Stephen Fry's libretto.

Prince Herbert (Terry Jones) would much rather sing than inherit Swamp Castle from his father (Michael Palin) and marry Princess Lucky in a choice episode in Jones and Terry Gilliam's Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). Police cars spoil the fun at the end, while a spaceship intrudes upon Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979). Luckily, there were no collisions with the Hawkmen commanded by Prince Vultan (Brian Blessed) to help Flash (Sam Jones) confound Ming the Merciless (Max von Sydow) in Mike Hodges's camped-up comic-strip classic, Flash Gordon (1980).

Staying in the realms of fantasy, Prince Colwyn (Kenneth Marshall) sets out to rescue Princess Lyssa (Lysette Anthony) from alien invaders in Peter Yates's Krull (1983). The hissable foe in Rob Reiner's take on William Goldman's The Princess Bride (1987), however, is Prince Humperdink of Florin (Chris Sarandon), who is all set to marry Princess Buttercup (Robin Wright) against her will before farmhand Westley (Cary Elwes) intervenes.

A still from Ella Enchanted (2004)
A still from Ella Enchanted (2004)

Romance is very much in the air, as Prince Henry of France (Dougray Scott) tips his cap at Danielle de Barbarac (Drew Barrymore) in Andy Tennant's reworking of the Cinderella story, Ever After (1998). When not fighting off his wicked uncle, Sir Edgar (Cary Elwes), Prince Charmant (Hugh Dancy) finds himself becoming smitten with Ella of Frell (Anne Hathaway) in Tommy O'Haver's Ella Enchanted (2004). This adaptation of a 1997 Gail Carson Levine bestseller would make a splendid Cinema Paradiso double bill with Kevin Lima's Enchanted (2007), which is narrated by Julie Andrews and sees Queen Narissa (Susan Sarandon) prevent Prince Edward (James Marsden) from finding true love with Giselle (Amy Adams) and claiming the throne of Andalasia.

Annoyingly, we can't bring you Adams and Marsden's reunion in Adam Shankman's Disenchanted (2022). But we can nudge you in the direction of Martha Coolidge's The Prince & Me (2004), which heads to the Wisconsin college where Paige Morgan (Julia Stiles) is falling for Eddie (Luke Mably) without realising that he's actually a Danish prince incognito. Maybe, one day, someone will get round to releasing the sequel triptych directed by Catherine Cyran.

It's a dog's life for Prince Wendell (Daniel Lapaine) in Herbert Wise and David Carson's The 10th Kingdom (2000), as Snow White's grandson is transformed by Dianne Wiest's evil queen. In case you were wondering, the title refers to Central Park in New York. But the setting is quite definitely Camelot in the classic BBC series, Merlin (2008-12), which sees the eponymous wizard (Colin Morgan) and his friend, Giaus (Richard Wilson), protect Prince Arthur (Bradley James) at a time when magic is outlawed. And, speaking of wizardry, we won't give the game away by revealing an identity, but we feel we must point out that a part-Muggle is up to no good in David Yates's Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009).

C.S. Lewis's books about Narnia remain bestsellers seven decades after they started to appear. Hollywood didn't quite get the gist of them, however, and opted for the spectacular effects approach rather than concentrating on character and narrative, as Marilyn Fox had done in the BBC's 1988 serialisation of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Alex Kirby took the helm for the six episodes in Prince Caspian and the Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1989), which cast Jean-Marc Perret and Samuel West in the title role. On the big screen, the part passed to Ben Barnes in Andrew Adamson's Prince Caspian (2008) and Michael Apted's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2009).

A still from A Christmas Princess (2011)
A still from A Christmas Princess (2011)

Inspired by a video game, Mike Newell's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010) accompanies Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal) on his adventures after the street urchin is adopted by King Sharaman (Ronald Pickup) and is forced to throw in his lot with Princess Tamina of Alamut (Gemma Arterton) after being falsely accused of regicide. Needless to say, things are much quieter for New Yorker Jules Daly (Katie McGrath) when she travels to Castlebury for the holidays and meets Prince Ashton (Sam Heughen) in Michael Damian's A Christmas Princess (2011).

The same can't be said of the baker and his wife (James Corden and Emily Blunt) in Rob Marshall's Into the Woods (2014), an adaptation of Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine's Broadway musical that co-stars Meryl Streep as the witch, Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine as Cinderella and her prince, and Mackenzie Mauzy as Rapunzel and her beau, Billy Magnussen. But if you still need a little more enchantment, seek out Matteo Garrone's Tale of Tales (2015), whose vignettes drawn from Giambattista Basile's Pentamerone include 'The Enchanted Doe', in which the Queen of Longtrellis (Salma Hayek) is concerned that the cook's son, Jonah (Jonah Lees), is the spitting image of her son, Prince Elias (Christian Lees).

This story contains a dragon and there are occasional encounters of the draconine kind in Game of Thrones (2011-19). The series based on the writings of George R.R. Martin also has its share of princes. It would take aeons to describe how they all fit into the sprawling plotlines. But imagine the complaints if we didn't mention Prince Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith) and his sons; the Baratheon brothers, Joffrey (Jack Gleeson) and Tommen (Callum Wharry & Dean-Charles Chapman); Bran (Isaac Hempstead Wright) and Rickon (Art Parkinson), the princely siblings of Robb Stark, King in the North; Theon Greyjoy (Alfie Allen), who styled himself Prince of Winterfell; and the male members of Dorne's House Martell, who took the title prince, including Oberyn (Pedro Pascal). That should keep the Thronees happy!

Princes Among Men

You can't accuse Cinema Paradiso of not being thorough in its Collections articles. That's why we've one last state of princes to bring you, with several reaching screens big and small from the pages of fiction.

The only one to result in an Oscar win for Best Actor is Judah Ben-Hur, the Jewish prince who was played by Charlton Heston in William Wyler's lavish account of Lew Wallace's historical tome, Ben-Hur (1959). This landed 11 Academy Awards, a record that has only since been matched by James Cameron's Titanic (1997) and Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003). The title role in the Roman epic has since been taken by Jack Huston in Timur Bekmambetov's Ben-Hur (2016) and Adrien Bouchet in Mark Atkins's In the Name of Ben-Hur (2016).

Moving into a mythical Dark Ages, the character played by Robert Wagner in Henry Hathaway's Prince Valiant (1954) actually came from a Hal Foster comic-strip. He finds his way to the Camelot of King Arthur (Brian Aherne), only to discover that all is not well around the Round Table. The action was less ominous in David J. Corbett's The Legend of Prince Valiant: The Dream 1991), but there's still work for the 16 year-old aspiring knight (voiced by Robby Benson) to do in serving his lord (Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.).

Rather than please his kingly father (Peter Cook), Prince Edmund, Duke of Edinburgh (Rowan Atkinson) plots to usurp the throne from his brother, Harry, Prince of Wales (Robert Bathurst), in the first series of Blackadder (1983). The confines of the medieval Italian court of Prince Prospero (Vincent Price) prove every bit as dangerous in Roger Corman's The Masque of Red Death (1964), as the ennobled guests gather in a citadel to avoid the plague.

A still from Masque of the Red Death (1964)
A still from Masque of the Red Death (1964)

The unrest is caused by religion rather than pestilence in Bertrand Tavernier's The Princess of Montpensier (2010), an adaptation of Madame de La Lafayette's 1662 novella that follows the misfortunes of 17 year-old Marie, Marquise of Mézières (Mélanie Thierry) after she is betrothed to Prince Philippe (Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet) rather than her childhood friend, Henri, Duc de Guise (Gaspard Ulliel). Although he excelled at exposing the foibles of modern French society, Tavernier made a handful of successful excursions into the past, as Cinema Paradiso users can discover by ordering Let Joy Reign Supreme (1975) and D'Artagnan's Daughter (1994).

Princes abound in Leo Tolstory's mammoth tome about Napoleon's 1812 campaign in Russia, as can be seen from a cursory glance at Prince Andrei Bolkonsky (Mel Ferrer), Prince Nikolai Bolkonsky (Wilfrid Lawson), Prince Anatole Kuragin (Vittorio Gassman), and Prince Vassily Kuragin (Tullio Carminati) in King Vidor's handsome adaptation of War and Peace (1956). Vidor was nominated for his efforts, as were cinematographer Jack Cardiff and costume designer Maria de Mattheis. However, Sergei Bondarchuk's Soviet version (1966-67) won the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film, with Vyacheslav Tikhonov to the fore as Andrei Bolkonsky.

On television, John Davies's 1972 BBC version featured Alan Dobie as Andrei Bolkonsky and Colin Baker and Basil Henson as Anatole and Vassily Kuragin, while Tom Harper's 2016 Andrew Davies interpretation cast Jim Broadbent as Nikolai, James Norton as Andrei, Callum Turner as Anatole, and Stephen Rea as Vassily. Staying with magisterial volumes, Burt Lancaster makes light of the fact he isn't speaking Italian like the rest of the cast in playing Don Fabrizio Corbera, Prince of Salina, in Luchino Visconti's Palme d'or-winning adaptation of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard (1963), which is set in Risorgimento Sicily at the time of the invasion of Giuseppe Garibaldi and his red-shirted acolytes.

Film-makers have made regular use of those Mitteleuropean kingdoms that have sailed under the Ruritanian flag of convenience. Among the princes to hail from one such realm is Prince Karl Heinrich, who was played by Ramon Novarro in Ernst Lubitsch's sparkling Tinseltown silent, The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927). He was reinvented as Prince Karl of Karlsburg in Richard Thorpe's The Student Prince (1954), which saw Edmund Purdom mime to the glorious vocals of Mario Lanza, who is surely worthy of the odd DVD release in this country, as he was a massive star in his day, as Peter Jackson testifies in Heavenly Creatures (1994).

Thankfully, we do have Laurence Olivier doubling up as star and director on The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), which cast him as Charles, the Prince Regent of Carpathia, opposite Marilyn Monroe's Elsie Marina. The making of this adaptation of Terence Rattigan's stage play was recalled in Simon Curtis's My Week With Marilyn (2011), which teamed Kenneth Branagh and Michelle Williams. Also released in 1957 was Frank Launder's Blue Murder At St Trinian's, which follows the girls from Ronald Searle's riotous academy to Rome so that one of the sixth form can coax a proposal from Prince Bruno (Guido Lorraine).

Appearances can be deceptive, as Shirley Jones discovers when David Niven poses as a prince and Marlon Brando comes along for the ride as his socially challenged brother, Ruprecht, in Ralph Levy's Bedtime Story (1964). This is one of those rare occasions when the remake exceeded the original, as Michael Caine and Steve Martin are much funnier in trying to con Glenne Headley in Frank Oz's Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988). Despite a promising premise of Akeem Joffer, the Crown Prince of Zamunda (Eddie Murphy), flying to the United States to find a bride who loves him for himself and not his wealth and power, John Landis's Coming to America (1988) didn't quite score a hit on the audience's funny bone. Yet, in 2021, Murphy reunited with Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, and Shari Headley on Craig Brewer's Coming 2 America (2021) for a return trip Stateside to find the illegitimate son who can ascend the throne and prevent an invasion by Zamunda's bellicose neighbour, Nexdoria.

Also set in New York, John Leekley's The Prince of Central Park (2000) stars Frankie Nasso as a foster runaway whose search for his mother brings him into contact with unhappy marrieds, Kathleen Turner and Danny Aiello. Based on an Evan Rhodes novel about sleeping rough, this heartwarming drama was somewhat surprisingly produced by Steven Seagal. The title proves equally misleading in David Gordon Green's Prince Avalanche (2013), a droll remake of Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson's splendid Icelandic comedy, Either Way (2011), which joins odd (and decidedly non-princely) couple Alvin (Paul Rudd) and Lance (Emile Hirsch) on an expedition to paint lines down the middle of a road to nowhere that was damaged in a wildfire.

We're also bending the rules in mentioning Daniel Ciello (Treat Williams) in Sidney Lumet's Prince of the City (1981), Robin Prince (Mark Harmon) in Charles Braverman's Prince of Bel Air (1986), and Will Smith as a fictionalised version of himself in The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990-96). But Prince Peter Belinski (John Wood) is very much the real thing in James Ivory's The White Countess (2005), as his exiled family seek to eke out a living in 1930s Shanghai after having fled the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in their Russian homeland.

As Vlad the Impaler was a voivode in the Transylvanian province of Wallachia, Dracula is considered by many to be a prince. We shall limit ourselves, however, to pointing you in the direction of Terence Fisher's Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966), in which everyone's favourite voivode was played by Christopher Lee. While we're in horror territory, don't forget John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness (1987), which follows Catholic priest Donald Pleasence and academic Victor Wong, as they deal with leaks from a cylinder of green liquid that supposedly contains the corporeal embodiment of Satan.

Finally, we have to mention a couple of showbiz legends whose names qualify them for Cinema Paradiso's overview. Although he primarily bestrode Broadway, director-producer Hal Prince also made two features, Something For Everyone (1970) and A Little Night Music (1977). But remember him when you next watch any of this little lot, as Prince was behind the original show: The Pajama Game (1957); West Side Story (1961); A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966); Fiddler on the Roof (1971); Cabaret (1972); The Phantom of the Opera (2004); and Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007). Not bad, eh?

A still from Prince: Purple Rain (1984)
A still from Prince: Purple Rain (1984)

And how could we not salute Prince Rogers Nelson, whose music can be found on numerous discs in the Cinema Paradiso catalogue. But Prince also fancied himself as a movie star, hence his displays as The Kid in Albert Magnoli's Purple Rain (1984) and the self-directed Graffiti Bridge (1990), either side of playing Christopher Tracy in Under the Cherry Moon (1986) and himself in Sign 'o' the Times (1987), each of which he also directed. Two years have passed since Sheila E. posted that she was going to chronicle her romance with Prince in Girl Meets Boy. There has been no further bulletins, but the moment we hear anything, we'll let you know.

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