|Directed by||Norman Krasna|
|Written by||Norman Krasna|
|Produced by||Hal B. Wallis|
|Edited by||Warren Low|
|Music by||Friedrich Hollaender|
Warner Bros. Pictures
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|93 or 94 minutes|
|Box office||$3,099,000 |
Princess O'Rourke is a 1943 American romantic comedy film   directed and written by Norman Krasna (in Krasna's directorial debut), and starring Olivia de Havilland, Robert Cummings and Charles Coburn. Krasna won the 1944 Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. 
Although conceived as a vehicle for de Havilland, Princess O'Rourke turned out to be a troubled project that led to the de Havilland Law, that changed the status of contracts in the U.S. film industry. Filmed in 1942, the release was held up for one year due to legal issues that resulted from the production. 
During World War II, Princess Maria and her uncle Holman, exiles from their (unnamed) conquered European country, live in New York City. Holman hopes that his niece will marry and produce a male heir as soon as possible, but she is not interested in his preferred choice, Count Peter de Chandome, or the other candidates that he has suggested.
While flying to California incognito as "Mary Williams", the princess—fearful of flying—is accidentally given too many sleeping pills. When the Douglas DST airliner returns to New York because of bad weather, the crew cannot wake her. The pilot, Eddie O'Rourke, takes care of her, still unaware who she is. She wakes up the next morning in his apartment wearing his pajamas.
To explain her absence, Maria tells her uncle that she slept at the airport. She spends the day with Eddie, his friend and co-pilot, Dave Campbell, and Dave's wife Jean (who had put Maria to bed). "Mary" tells them she is a war refugee and was traveling to California to work as an upstairs maid. She and Eddie quickly fall in love. With both Eddie and Dave about to join the United States Army Air Forces, Eddie impulsively proposes to Mary. She accepts, but sadly believes that, as a princess, she cannot marry him.
A Secret Service agent assigned to protect Maria tells her uncle of the relationship. Holman is not opposed to Maria marrying a commoner, and is pleased to learn that Eddie is one of nine brothers and his father one of 11. Holman also knows that his niece marrying an American would strengthen his country's vital relationship with the United States. To Maria's surprise and joy, he permits the marriage, and Eddie is stunned to learn that his poor European refugee is actually royalty.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt invites Maria and Eddie to stay at the White House. Given a crash course in royal protocol by a representative of the State Department, Eddie becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the conditions attached to the role of prince consort and being financially supported by his wife, with no career other than fathering an heir. While discussing the prenuptial agreement, he finally rebels when he is informed he must surrender his American citizenship. After making an impassioned speech about how lucky he is to be an American, Eddie asks "Mary" to choose between him and her family. Maria obeys her uncle and leaves the room; a disappointed Eddie calls her a "slave". Holman locks her in the Lincoln Bedroom.
After much crying, Maria writes a note and slips it under the door for Roosevelt's dog, Fala, to deliver to his master. In the middle of the night, the President summons a Supreme Court judge to marry Eddie and Maria. Afterward, the newlyweds sneak out of the White House. On the way out, Eddie bumps into a man standing behind the door; he mistakes the man for a guard. Outside, Maria tells him that the "guard" was actually the President. Astonished, Eddie exclaims, “I tipped him a buck! And he took it!” [Note 1]
In the early 1940s Norman Krasna had established himself as a leading screenwriter. He wanted to move into directing and in February 1942 signed a contract with Warner Bros to write and direct. His first assignment was to be Princess O'Rourke. 
In April 1942 Warner Bros announced Loretta Young would play the lead.  In May Warner Bros arranged to borrow Fred MacMurray from Paramount to play the male lead in exchange for Ann Sheridan who Paramount wanted to play Texas Guinan.  Also that month Hal Wallis announced he would produce. 
By June, however, the arrangement to exchange MacMurray for Sheridan was cancelled. (The Texas Guinan movie went on to be made with Betty Hutton, and MacMurray would not finish No Time for Love in time.) The male lead went to Cummings, who was borrowed from Universal and who had worked for Warners on Kings Row. The female lead went to de Havilland.   Charles Coburn joined the cast in late June. 
De Havilland initially refused the part and subsequently was suspended by Warner Bros.  [Note 2]
Feeling that being cast in a lightweight role would limit her future in Hollywood features, de Havilland also began to have medical problems that compounded her anxiety. During her suspension, Alexis Smith was tested as a replacement. Claude Rains campaigned to be in the film, but the casting of Charles Coburn solidified the main cast choices. 
Filming started on 9 July 1942.  It ended in September 1942. 
According to Ben Mankiewicz’s introduction to the 24 November 2019 airing of the picture on TCM, the production was given limited access to film at the White House, courtesy of President Roosevelt. In addition, FDR's beloved Scottie dog Fala—already a well-known film personality in his own right—played himself, because, as Mankiewicz said, "No dog body-doubles for Fala." Even so, Whiskers is also credited in some places (including the current cast list on TCM.com).
The airport scenes were shot at Burbank Airport. [Note 3] 
Cummings often was unavailable, as he was simultaneously working on Between Us Girls at Universal Studios, forcing de Havilland to at times deliver lines to a stand-in. Aged actor Coburn also frequently forgot his lines, leading to many retakes which sapped her energy further. 
Cummings also fell ill with ptomaine poisoning during the shoot and missed several days. 
De Havilland fought openly with Warner Bros.  Tired and suffering from low blood pressure, the formerly steady and hard-working actress began reporting late for work, leaving the set abruptly and going home when her frustrations became too much. This was very atypical behavior from the actor.  She would eventually file a lawsuit against the studio in a landmark case that resulted in passage of legislation known as the de Havilland Law (California Labor Code Section 2855), that set a seven-calendar-year limit on studio-player contracts. 
The film was completed ten days behind schedule on 9 September. Due to the legal issues, it was eventually released a year after the production wrapped. Princess O'Rourke became the penultimate film that de Havilland completed while on contract to Warner Bros.  [Note 4] [Note 5]
De Havilland and Cummings both sued their studios over their long-term contracts. 
The composer Arthur Schwartz and lyricists Edward "Yip" Harburg and Ira Gershwin, who had earlier written the featured song, "Honorable Moon" (1941), donated the money they received from Warner Bros. to the United China Relief organization.  Nan Wynn sings the song during a Chinese restaurant scene. 
While in post-production, the wartime Bureau of Motion Pictures (BMP) screened a copy of Princess O'Rourke and strenuously objected to the film. Unlike other feature productions, a script had not been pre-approved by the BMP. Nelson Poynter, the director of the liaison office in Hollywood, stated that the film was an example of studios "... recklessly using the war for background incidents in an opportunistic attempt to capitalize on the war rather than interpret it."  Poynter was particularly upset about the "ridiculous" caricatures of Red Cross workers, European nobility, the Secret Service, and even the President (described as a "busybody"). With the film already finished, however, no attempt was made to censor or restrict its release. 
Although largely forgotten today, Princess O'Rourke was a success at the time.  It received generally favorable contemporary reviews.
The famously rigorous Bosley Crowther of The New York Times was captivated by the film,  by a story that he thought could only be possible in America, and that "... it happens with such spirit and humor that you'll be bound to concede it might be." 
The review in Variety was even more effusive:
Princess O'Rourke is a spritely, effervescing and laugh-explosive comedy-romance. Credit for general sparkle and excellence of the picture must be tossed to Norman Krasna, who handled the writing and directing responsibilities. It's Krasna's initial directing assignment. 
The film marked a turning point in Jane Wyman's career, as she was given the opportunity to display her comedic talents, sparring capably with her foil, Jack Carson.  [Note 6]
More recent reviews, however, have been far more critical, with Leonard Maltin, noting in a one-paragraph review on TCM.com, "[The] very dated comedy starts charmingly with pilot Cummings falling in love with Princess de Havilland, bogs down in no longer timely situations, unbearably coy finale involving (supposedly) F.D.R. himself." 
Film historian Thomas G. Aylesworth stated, "[the] supporting cast of real professionals probably saved the movie." 
Film historians such as Roger Fristoe, retired film critic for the Courier-Journal in Louisville, Kentucky, have noted similarities to the later, more highly regarded romantic comedy Roman Holiday (1953), directed and produced by William Wyler, starring Gregory Peck as a reporter and Audrey Hepburn as a royal princess out to see Rome on her own.  Biographer Daniel Bubbeo characterized Princess O'Rourke as a "fluffier" antecedent of Roman Holiday. 
According to Variety, the film earned $2.3 million in rentals in North America in 1943. 
According to Warner Bros. records, the film earned $2,257,000 domestically and $842,000 foreign. 
Norman Krasna later said "everybody thought de Havilland was a great comedienne in Princess O'Rourke; it's not true. She was just darling, an ingenue. And everybody else is in on the joke - Jane Wyman, Bob Cummings, Charles Coburn; they were great comedians all around. So it comes out as a comedy and they go and put her in Government Girl for Dudley Nichols and she falls on her ass. Don't let her be the comedy!" 
Wyman's performance was admired by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett and led to her being cast in The Lost Weekend .  De Havilland regarded the film as trivial, but she later worked with Krasna again in The Ambassador's Daughter (1956). 
Despite the film's success, Krasna only directed two more films. "I'm not a good director, not at all," he said later. "I know how to direct what I write; but then I write knowing that I'm able to direct it."  Krasna said the film was among his favorites of his own [written] works, the others being The Devil and Miss Jones , Mr and Mrs Smith , Bachelor Mother and My Geisha . 
In 1944, Helen Grace Carlisle sued the filmmakers, alleging plagiarism. 
Krasna won the 1944 Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) for Princess O'Rourke. 
Errol Leslie Thomson Flynn was an Australian-American actor who achieved worldwide fame during the Golden Age of Hollywood. He was known for his romantic swashbuckler roles, frequent partnerships with Olivia de Havilland, and reputation for his womanising and hedonistic personal life. His most notable roles include the eponymous hero in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938), which was later named by the American Film Institute as the 18th greatest hero in American film history, the lead role in Captain Blood (1935), Major Geoffrey Vickers in The Charge of the Light Brigade (1936), and the hero in a number of Westerns such as Dodge City (1939), Santa Fe Trail (1940), and San Antonio (1945).
Kings Row is a 1942 film starring Ann Sheridan, Robert Cummings, Ronald Reagan and Betty Field that tells a story of young people growing up in a small American town at the turn of the twentieth century. The picture was directed by Sam Wood. The film was adapted by Casey Robinson from a best-selling 1940 novel of the same name by Henry Bellamann. The musical score was composed by Erich Wolfgang Korngold, and the cinematographer was James Wong Howe. The supporting cast features Charles Coburn, Claude Rains, Judith Anderson and Maria Ouspenskaya.
Bachelor Mother (1939) is an American romantic comedy film directed by Garson Kanin, and starring Ginger Rogers, David Niven, and Charles Coburn. The screenplay was written by Norman Krasna from an Academy Award-nominated story by Felix Jackson written for the 1935 Austrian-Hungarian film Little Mother. With a plot full of mistaken identities, Bachelor Mother is a light-hearted treatment of the otherwise serious issues of child abandonment.
Dame Olivia Mary de Havilland was a British-American actress. The major works of her cinematic career spanned from 1935 to 1988. She appeared in 49 feature films and was one of the leading actresses of her time. At the time of her death in 2020 at age 104, she was the oldest living and earliest surviving Academy Award winner and was widely considered as being the last surviving major star from the Golden Age of Hollywood cinema. Her younger sister was Oscar-winning actress Joan Fontaine.
Michael Curtiz was a Hungarian-American film director, recognized as one of the most prolific directors in history. He directed classic films from the silent era and numerous others during Hollywood's Golden Age, when the studio system was prevalent.
Joan de Beauvoir de Havilland, known professionally as Joan Fontaine, was a British-American actress who is best known for her starring roles in Hollywood films during the "Golden Age". Fontaine appeared in more than 45 films in a career that spanned five decades. She was the younger sister of actress Olivia de Havilland. Their rivalry was well-documented in the media at the height of Fontaine's career.
Jane Wyman was an American actress. She received an Academy Award, three Golden Globe Awards and nominations for two Primetime Emmy Awards.
Clara Lou "Ann" Sheridan was an American actress and singer. She is best known for her roles in the films San Quentin (1937) with Humphrey Bogart, Angels with Dirty Faces (1938) with James Cagney and Bogart, They Drive by Night (1940) with George Raft and Bogart, City for Conquest (1940) with Cagney and Elia Kazan, The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) with Bette Davis, Kings Row (1942) with Ronald Reagan, Nora Prentiss (1947), and I Was a Male War Bride (1949) with Cary Grant.
Charles Clarence Robert Orville Cummings was an American film and television actor who appeared in roles in comedy films such as The Devil and Miss Jones (1941) and Princess O'Rourke (1943), and in dramatic films, especially two of Alfred Hitchcock's thrillers, Saboteur (1942) and Dial M for Murder (1954). He received five Primetime Emmy Award nominations, and won the Primetime Emmy Award for Best Actor in a Single Performance in 1955. On February 8, 1960, he received two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions to the motion picture and television industries, at 6816 Hollywood Boulevard and 1718 Vine Street. He used the stage name Robert Cummings from mid-1935 until the end of 1954 and was credited as Bob Cummings from 1955 until his death.
The Devil and Miss Jones is a 1941 comedy film starring Jean Arthur, Robert Cummings, and Charles Coburn. Directed by Sam Wood from a screenplay by Norman Krasna, the film was the product of an independent collaboration between Krasna and producer Frank Ross. Their short-lived production company released two films through RKO Radio Pictures. The film was well received by critics upon its release and garnered Oscar nominations for Coburn and Krasna.
John Elmer Carson was a Canadian-born, American film actor. Carson often played the role of comedic friend in films of the 1940s and 1950s, including The Strawberry Blonde (1941) with James Cagney and Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) with Cary Grant. He also acted in dramas such as Mildred Pierce (1945), A Star is Born (1954), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958). He worked for RKO and MGM, but most of his notable work was for Warner Bros.
Reginald Lawrence Knowles, better known as Patric Knowles, was an English film actor. Born in Horsforth, West Riding of Yorkshire, he made his film debut in 1932, and played either first or second film leads throughout his career. He appeared in films from the 1930s to the 1970s.
Norman Krasna was an American screenwriter, playwright, producer, and film director who penned screwball comedies centered on a case of mistaken identity. Krasna directed three films during a forty-year career in Hollywood. He garnered four Academy Award screenwriting nominations, winning once for 1943's Princess O'Rourke, which he also directed.
Thank Your Lucky Stars is a 1943 American musical comedy film made by Warner Brothers as a World War II fundraiser, with a slim plot involving theater producers. The stars donated their salaries to the Hollywood Canteen, which was founded by John Garfield and Bette Davis, who appear in this film. It was directed by David Butler and stars Eddie Cantor, Dennis Morgan, Joan Leslie, Edward Everett Horton and S.Z. Sakall.
In This Our Life is a 1942 American drama film, the second to be directed by John Huston. The screenplay by Howard Koch is based on the 1941 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same title by Ellen Glasgow. The cast included the established stars Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland as sisters and rivals in romance and life. Raoul Walsh also worked as director, taking over when Huston was called away for a war assignment after the United States entered World War II, but he was uncredited. This film was the third of six films that de Havilland and Davis starred in together.
Julie Bishop, previously known as Jacqueline Wells, was an American film and television actress. She appeared in more than 80 films between 1923 and 1957.
The Male Animal is a 1942 American comedy-drama film produced by Warner Bros., starring Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland and Joan Leslie.
Salty O'Rourke is a 1945 American drama film directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Alan Ladd and Gail Russell. It was nominated for an Academy Award in 1946.
Government Girl is a 1943 American romantic-comedy film, produced and directed by Dudley Nichols and starring Olivia de Havilland and Sonny Tufts. Based on a story by Adela Rogers St. Johns, and written by Dudley Nichols and Budd Schulberg, the film is about a secretary working in a factory during World War II who helps her boss navigate the complex political machinations of government in an effort to build bomber aircraft for the war effort.
One More Tomorrow is a 1946 American film directed by Peter Godfrey and written by Charles Hoffman and Catherine Turney from the play The Animal Kingdom by Philip Barry. The film, starring Ann Sheridan, Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson, Alexis Smith, Jane Wyman and Reginald Gardiner, is a remake of the 1932 film The Animal Kingdom. It was released by Warner Bros. on June 1, 1946.