Film Review and Rating / Synopsis

(Please note the films reviewed on this site contain plot summaries and may contain SPOILERS.)
  • The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927) - Plot Summary - The adventures of a young prince who just wants to be one of the boys! As the film begins "In the kingdom of Karlsburg there was great excitement! The people were to see for the first time their Crown Prince, nephew of the King". And so the boy (Philippe De Lacy) arrives, a bit nervous and intimidated by all the pomp and circumstance, he clings to the coattails of his governess as he steps forward to greet the stern and impatient King. As another boy admires the prince's photograph in a shop window saying "It must be great to be a prince!", we cut to the castle of the lonely and sheltered little Prince, who gazes out from behind the high fence, the iron bars making it look like he's in prison! He just wants to play with the other kids, instead he must play a boring game of ball with the aging butlers. His governess shipped off, a new tutor, Dr. Juttner (Jean Hersholt), is brought in to instruct him in etiquette, obligation, duty, and the like. Luckily the Prince and his tutor hit it off and the boy grows up into a very handsome and appealing young man (now played by the very handsome and appealing actor Ramon Novarro). As he completes his studies, they fear the King will give the tutor the boot - instead, the prince is to be sent to Heidelberg to study, accompanied by his favorite tutor -- hurrah! Arriving in Heidelberg they end up at an "ordinary inn", and are greeted by Kathi (Norma Shearer), the lovely daughter of the innkeeper. She seems to pretty much run the place and convinces our Prince the place is nice enough even for him (after all, she says, "a prince is only a human being" and that pleases him!). Kathi is the darling of the all-male student population who fill the inn's beer garden each day, as she works as barmaid serving up huge mugs of ale to the men. The Prince admires her out the window and becomes a bit smitten as he watches her chug-a-lug a mug of beer! She likes him too, and soon love bloom's between the two and he's also taken under the wing of the students, who make him one of their own! Unfortunately for our two lovebirds - he's a prince, and they realize marriage between the two may not be possible. When the King becomes ill, duty calls as the Prince is summoned back to Karlsburg to take over the government rule. At the King's deathbed, he is suckered into agreeing to the King's wish that he should marry a Princess Ilse, who has already been selected by the King as the prince's future consort. And our noble Prince returns to Heidelberg for one last day of love and happiness.

    Review - This silent love story set at the turn of the last century features the sort of commonly seen - boy meets girl, they fall in love, problems arise - type of story often featured in film, but this film is elevated up from the norm by being enhanced by some very stylish, interesting camerawork which is often playfully done, even a little whimsical. The film is just filled with all sorts of visually interesting shots - you definitely see the hand of the film's director, Ernst Lubitsch, in this. Very well acted by the entire cast - Ramon Novarro exudes a boyish charm as the handsome Prince, his character is also well played by child actor Philippe De Lacy who has similar facial expressions to Novarro (though they don't really look much alike - my pet peeve: casting a child with obviously different colored eyes of the actor playing that character as an adult). Oh well, I have really liked Philippe DeLacy in every movie I've seen him in, so glad of the casting. I like Novarro matched up with Norma Shearer - two of my favorite stars, there is a sweetness in their onscreen relationship, their smiles really light up the screen! As screened on TCM channel, this featured a good-looking black and white print and great orchestral score, music composed and conducted by Carl Davis (one of my faves). This film is really pretty special with lots of memorable scenes, it has stuck with me as I write this over the last couple of days. A must see from the silent era. Rating - * 10/10 stars *

    Director: Ernst Lubitsch
    Film Genre: Romantic Melodrama
    Film Runtime: 106 minutes

Links / Resources

film review The Student Prince of Old Heidelberg starring Ramon Novarro


10 = Absolutely Fabulous/Superb
9 = Really Good/Excellent
8 = Good
7 = Fairly Good/Decent
6 = So-so, some flaws
5 = Mediocre
4 = Not that good, many flaws
3 = Poor
2 = Very Poor/Stinker
1 = One of the worst BOMBS ever filmed

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