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Princess O'Rourke (1943)

aka Princess O'Rourke

Directed By: 
Written By:  Writer details not available
Details: 94 mins · English


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Princess Maria (Olivia De Havilland) and her uncle Holman (Charles Coburn) are forced into exile when their country is invaded by the Nazis in World War II. Holman is anxious to have his niece get married and produce a male heir as soon as possible, but she is not interested in his choice, Count Peter de Candome (Curt Bois).

On an aircraft flight, the princess, traveling incognito as "Mary Williams", takes too many sleeping pills. When the Douglas DC-3 airliner is forced to return to New York City due to bad weather, she is fast asleep and cannot be roused. The pilot, Eddie O'Rourke (Robert Cummings), takes charge of her. She wakes up the next morning in his apartment ... and his pajamas. (He had gotten his co-pilot's wife Jean to attend to the latter.) Maria tells him that she is on her way to California to work as an upstairs maid. They become acquainted and quickly fall in love.

Holman is apprised of these developments by a government agent assigned to protect Maria. When he learns that O'Rourke's family seems to produce large numbers of sons (Eddie is one of nine brothers and his father is one of 11), he is intrigued. He also realizes that it would help cement American support if she married a citizen, and gives his approval. Eddie is stunned to learn that his poor European refugee is actually a royal princess.

After a brief official courtship, Maria and Eddie are invited to stay at the White House as guests of President Franklin D. Roosevelt (his famous dog Fala plays a key role). Though Eddie is willing to sign over such things as his right of succession and deciding how his future children will be raised, he draws the line at giving up his American citizenship. After making a brief impassioned speech about how lucky he is to be an American, he makes Maria choose. After deep thought, Maria obeys her uncle and leaves the room. Taking no chances, Holman locks her in her bedroom.

After much crying however, Maria changes her mind. She writes a note and slips it through the door to Fala to deliver to his master. In the middle of the night, the President summons a Supreme Court judge (Harry Davenport) who marries Eddie and Maria. The pair sneak out of the White House to begin their life together. Eddie tips a "butler" he bumps into on the way out. Outside, Maria tells him it was actually the President. (Though mostly obscured behind a door in his sole appearance onscreen, Roosevelt is depicted standing up rather than in his wheelchair, in keeping with how, in real life, his disability was hidden as much as possible from the public.)