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Story of Vickie, The

Story of Vickie, The(1954)

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teaser Story of Vickie, The (1954)

Originally produced under the title Mdchenjahre einer Knigin, in 1954, The Story of Vickie (released in the United States in 1958) was a Technicolor fantasy starring 16-year-old Romy Schneider (billed on American posters as "1958's Most Exciting New Star!") as the young Queen Victoria of England. Director Ernst Marischka co-wrote the screenplay with Sil Vara, based on Vara's 1932 comedic play, which was also a 1936 film directed by Erich Engel under the title Victoria in Dover . The story was supposedly based on the diaries of the Queen of England, but is actually mostly fiction.

Victoria, whose mother was German and who grew up speaking the language exclusively until she was three, was crowned Queen of England after her grandfather and father died. All of Victoria's uncles died before having legitimate children, so she became queen by default at the age of 18. In the film, Victoria's Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne (Karl Ludwig Diehl) arranges for her to marry her first cousin Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg (Adrian Hoven). Although she is determined to do her duty, Victoria wants to choose her own husband. She decides to leave London for a few days with her lady-in-waiting, and goes to Dover. There, she meets a handsome man and falls in love, not knowing that he is, in fact, Prince Albert. Also in the cast were Schneider's mother, the famed German actress Magda Schneider, playing Victoria's lady-in-waiting, and Christl Mardayn as Victoria's mother, the Duchess of Kent.

Produced for Marischka's Erma-Film company, The Story of Vickie was dubbed in English when it debuted in New York City in January 1958, distributed by Walt Disney's Buena Vista Film Distribution Company. The reaction to the film in the United States was mixed, with A.H. Weiler of The New York Times echoing the opinion of his fellow critics by remarking that while Marischka "struck gold" in his choice of Romy Schneider as Victoria, the film itself was "unimaginative," with Marischka stretching the story out with "lengthy, stately speeches." Weiler also questioned the wisdom of dubbing the film, writing that "The sound of clipped British speech and English with German inflections, some of which has not been precisely synchronized, tends to confuse an observer." Variety also criticized the dubbing as "not ideal" but found the film and Schneider "charming."

Although this was not Romy Schneider's first film, it was her first leading role, and it proved to be an important one for her career. After her success in The Story of Vickie , she became a full-fledged star in Europe with the Sissi trilogy, also directed by Marischka, about another royal - the Empress Elisabeth of Austria. Schneider would go on to star in both American and European films until her untimely death at the age of 43 in 1982.

SOURCES:

The Internet Movie Database
Schulte, Regina "The Body of the Queen: Gender and Rule in the Courtly World, 1500-2000"
Weiler, A.H. "The 'Vickie' of the title is Queen Victoria. Victoria as a Princess; 'The Story of Vickie' at Two Theaters. Romy Schneider Has Young Queen's Role" The New York Times 30 Jan 58

By Lorraine LoBianco

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