Cast & Crew
In 1938, Jimmy Dobson, a bellboy at New York City's elegant Eaton Hotel, and Albert Weever, a slow-witted hotel porter, are good friends of Leslie Odell, their crippled, bedridden neighbor who used to be a dancer. Jimmy regularly reads stories to Leslie and Albert, and Leslie, who is secretly in love with Jimmy, cherishes every moment with him. One day Princess Veronica of Hungary arrives at the Eaton Hotel with Countess Zoe and her major domo, Mr. Pufi. Veronica has come to America to rekindle a romance she had years earlier with newspaper columnist Paul MacMillan. Countess Zoe tries to persuade Veronica to forget her American lover and instead marry Baron Zoltan Faludi, who has followed her to New York, but the princess ignores the wishes of her family. When Veronica wanders into the employee offices of the hotel, Jimmy mistakes her for a new maid and invites her to join him for an afternoon stroll through Central Park. The two become fast friends, and when they return to the hotel, Mr. Fabler, the hotel manager, fires Jimmy for consorting with an important guest. Veronica, however, saves Jimmy's job by insisting that Fabler appoint him to be her personal attendant while she is in New York. With each passing day, Leslie learns more about Jimmy's budding friendship with Veronica and becomes increasingly jealous. When Paul sees Veronica for the first time since they parted, he tells her that he is still upset with her for leaving him, and insists that they remain strangers. Late one night, after Albert reads a fairy tale to Leslie about a princess, she dreams about a mythical kingdom where Albert is king and she is able to walk and dance: Upon entering a grand palace, Leslie asks the king to bring Jimmy back to her. The king grants Leslie's wish and promises to return her "prince" to her. Leslie's dream ends after she shares a dance with Jimmy. At the hotel, Jimmy misunderstands a conversation he overhears and believes that Veronica wants him and is waiting for a sign from him that he loves her. Jimmy tries to give Veronica a sign by asking her on a date, and she consents to go out with him, but only if he takes her to Jake's Joint. At the club, Jimmy finds Albert in the company of gangsters, who are trying to employ Albert in their illicit schemes. When the gangsters order Albert to strike Jimmy, a brawl ensues. Veronica gets involved in the fight and is arrested in a police raid. While Veronica is in jail, news arrives at the hotel that she has succeeded to the throne. Paul wins Veronica's release, but she loses her second chance with him when she becomes distracted by the pressures of being a queen. Veronica later invites Jimmy to return to Hungary with her, but Jimmy again misinterprets her and believes that she wants him to share the throne with her. Jimmy eagerly accepts the offer and bids farewell to Leslie. When Leslie reminds him of how much he loves her by trying to walk for him, however, Jimmy decides to stay in New York. Veronica eventually realizes that Jimmy was in love with her, and, inspired by Jimmy's ability to reject her love and the throne, she decides to relinquish her royal duties and return to Paul. Leslie soon makes a full recovery and dances with Jimmy at a nightclub, and they are joined by Veronica and Paul.
Peter P. Decker
A. Arnold Gillespie
Marion Herwood Keyes
William J. Saracino
Robert W. Shirley
Andrew B. Sterling
Harry Von Tilzer
Richard A. Whiting
Edwin B. Willis
Her Highness and the Bellboy
Lamarr, an Austrian native, had caused a sensation as a teenager by doing a nude scene in her first film, Ecstasy (1933). Signed to an M-G-M contract by Louis B. Mayer, she was equally sensational in her first American film, Algiers (1938), made on loanout to producer Walter Wanger. But in many of her M-G-M films, Lamarr was merely decorative, and while the films were successful, she had few roles which really challenged her. The studio also considered her difficult because she wanted to manage her own career, and would complain about the roles she was given. By the mid-1940s, the studio appeared to have lost interest in her. In her autobiography, Lamarr writes that when she finished one of her best films, Experiment Perilous (1944), made on loanout to RKO, M-G-M producer Joe Pasternak convinced her that she needed to follow that film with a comedy, so she agreed to do Her Highness and the Bellboy. Lamarr thought it was "a terrible movie, even though it made money." She claimed that the studio agreed with that assessment, and held it back for awhile before releasing it, but there may have been another reason Lamarr disliked the film: "Though I had star billing, the June Allyson part was really better."
Allyson was one of the studio's rising young stars. A Broadway singer and dancer, she had gone to Hollywood to appear in the 1943 film version of the Broadway hit, Best Foot Forward, in which she'd had a featured role. Her breakthrough film role came in Two Girls and a Sailor (1944) opposite Van Johnson. Her Highness and the Bellboy was Allyson's first of two roles opposite Robert Walker, also one of the studio's up-and-comers. They would also co-star in The Sailor Takes a Wife (1945), and she performed a number in the musical biography, Till the Clouds Roll By (1946), which starred Walker.
During production of Her Highness and the Bellboy, Walker's career was booming, but his personal life was a mess. He and his wife had arrived in Hollywood in 1942 with their two young sons and impressive movie contracts. Walker had been signed by M-G-M, and his wife, Phylis Isley, was under contract to David O. Selznick, who renamed her Jennifer Jones. Selznick soon became obsessed with Jones, and the day after she won an Oscar® for The Song of Bernadette (1943) in March of 1944, Jones filed for divorce from Walker. At the same time, Walker was getting great reviews for his first starring role, in See Here, Private Hargrove (1944). He was morose and drinking heavily, even as he co-starred with Judy Garland in The Clock (1945). His depression and his drinking continued during production of Her Highness and the Bellboy, which began filming in the late fall of 1944. Allyson recalled that "working with him was a strange and exhilarating experience....No other actor I've worked with could make a scene more true Bob could make you feel the scene with him as something urgent and surging with life." But he was "intense and moody," and would disappear for hours. "Whenever I look back at my career and all my co-stars, I think of Robert Walker, and I almost cry. I wish I could have helped him," Allyson later recalled. Walker never conquered his demons, in spite of doing good, and occasionally brilliant work, in films such as Strangers on a Train (1951). He died in 1951.
But in Her Highness and the Bellboy, moviegoers would only see Walker's boyish charm. Variety called his performance "terrif," and rated the film "a diverting romantic item with pleasing comedy relief." Other reviews were less favorable. Newsweek called it "escapist froth whipped up with a cement mixer," but most agreed with James Agee that it was at least "sporadically enjoyable through the friendliness of Robert Walker and Rags Ragland, the beauty of Hedy Lamarr, the sincerity of June Allyson."
Producer: Joe Pasternak
Director: Richard Thorpe
Screenplay: Richard Connell, Gladys Lehman
Cinematography: Harry Stradling
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Urie McCleary
Music: Georgie Stoll
Film Editing: George Boemler
Cast: Hedy Lamarr (Princess Veronica), Robert Walker (Jimmy Dobson), June Allyson (Leslie Odell), Carl Esmond (Baron Zoltan Faludi), Agnes Moorehead (Countess Zoe)
BW-111m. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri
Her Highness and the Bellboy
A pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter lists actress Mary Servoss in the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A January 1945 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that M-G-M rushed scenes in which Hedy Lamarr appears because of her "impending motherhood."