Hedy Lamarr, Robert Walker, and June Allyson star in Her Highness and the Bellboy (1945)

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Her Highness and the Bellboy

Year: 1945 (set in 1938)

Starring: Hedy Lamarr, Robert Walker, June Allyson, Agnes Moorhead, and Rags Ragland

My Rating★★★★

Written for the Joe Pasternak Blogathon hosted by the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society.

Jimmy Dobson (Robert Walker) is a flirtatious bellboy for a fancy hotel but is, surprisingly, a bit of a straight-shooter. His closest friend is Albert Weever (Rags Ragland), another hotel employee, but one with a bit of an undescribed mental disability. Jimmy's fondness for Albert manifests whenever Albert starts getting dragged into bad company and Jimmy yanks him back out again. In a cozy old Victorian brownstone that has been split into multiple apartments, Jimmy lives fairly comfortably in an apartment directly below the lovely Leslie Odell (June Allyson), a charming and sweet girl who loves Jimmy dearly but suffers from emotional anxieties that manifest themselves in an inability to walk. So she spends her days painting Santa Claus figures to sell so she can help her aunt pay their rent and dreams of a day when Jimmy might just tell her he loves her back.

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Each day is much like another for this little group of people until Princess Veronica (Hedy Lamarr) and her entourage including Countess Zoe (Agnes Moorhead) arrive from an unnamed European country. Princess Veronica wants to visit America for a very specific reason; she is in love with a newspaper journalist. But once there, a twist of fate throws the princess and Jimmy into the same path. Jimmy foolishly believes the princess is in love with him, when in reality, she yearns to marry her journalist who refuses her because he has no wish to marry royalty, no matter how much he loves her, which he does. Leslie yearns after Jimmy who is now infatuated with Princess Veronica who dearly dreams of her journalist. A mess if ever there was one.

At times a screwball comedy of errors, at times a romantic tragedy, Her Highness and the Bellboy is an entertaining ride from start to finish. 

June Allyson, Robert Walker, and Hedy Lamarr
I must give Robert Walker an incredible amount of kudos for his performance. I know the poor man was going through a rough patch, in the middle of his divorce from Jennifer Jones, and suffering depression and melancholy, but the audience would never know it. He probably gives the best performance of his life in this picture simply because his personal life was such a mess and he sparkled so brilliantly on the screen. Robert Walker is truly an A Class actor. All it took was my watching 

The Clock 
with Judy Garland once and I was head over heels for the man.

Hedy Lamarr has never been a favorite of mine, but I do like her, and I appreciate her lovely exoticism. She shines here, in the final picture she made under contract with MGM, and it was a very successful project for the company. I see why she was well-loved. There's an effortless charm about her. She's particularly entertaining in this film because she has some fun comedic moments, like in the bar brawl where she's trying to keep the police from arresting a young woman and they end up in a tug of war with the other woman in between. It's just very funny.

But truly, this is June Allyson's picture. The first time I saw her was in The Three Musketeers with Gene Kelly and I've admired her ever since. There's this effervescent sparkle in her eyes and in her attitude that attracts me. She's marvelous here. I love her especially in her scenes with Rags Ragland, when Robert Walker's character is ignoring her because he's distracted with the princess. At one point, Rags' character Albert brings her forget-me-nots and says, "Hello, Leslie, I brought you some flowers. They're fornot-me-gets." She so sweetly responds to him, saying, "Thank you, Albert. I love fornot-me-gets."

June Allyson, Robert Walker, and Hedy Lamarr
There's a charming fairytale theme running throughout the entire story. Jimmy sometimes reads fairytales out loud to Albert and Leslie, stories of hope and true love, and princes and princesses united. There's even a sweet dream sequence that Leslie has where she goes to a king and asks for her prince to be restored to her. In the dream, she's walking and it's indicative of her desire to actually get up and walk. Leslie even makes a very acute observation at one point, saying, "It's what you have in your heart that makes you a prince." She's right. It's what's on the inside that counts, not the outside trappings. Veronica and Leslie both deserve happy endings, and it's wonderful when Jimmy realizes that his girl isn't this distant dream that can't become reality, but the girl right next door who he's truly loved all along.

There is a charming innocence and naivete about Her Highness and the Bellboy that is likely attributed to Joe Pasternak's influence as the producer. It seems that he took ethics and the Hays Code very seriously and that he was proud, rightly so, that he never made an "adults only" film. He just wanted to make feel-good movies that weren't bogged down with muck. It seems that those who appreciate clean old Hollywood pictures have a lot to thank him for. This movie is awash with feel-good moments and I'm so glad I found it. It's just one of those pictures you come away from feeling really good about life, about people, and hopeful for the future. Now I feel this insatiable desire to watch more of June Allyson's pictures since I haven't seen nearly enough of them!

Once again, this was written for the Joe Pasternak Blogathon hosted by the Pure Entertainment Preservation Society and I hope you'll take the time to read the other posts.


  1. Hi, sad that Hedy was not a favorite of yours, but glad you liked her in this. I thought she worked very well with Robert Walker, Agnes Moorhead, Carl Esmond and Rags Ragland. She had a rare gift for light comedy which MGM didn't use much. All her movies made as a teen in Germany were comedies. She did well in comedies/lighter moments with Gable, Stewart, Powell, Cummings and Hope. She did radio comedy as well. I like her in her dramatic roles, too. Some critics often miss her subtle natural acting which was from her European training. I feel she was underrated and unappreciated. Sadly many miss this movie in their lists though it did well in theaters. I wish she had earlier movies in color and more comedies/light fare. At least we got your appreciation with this.

    1. Hi, Kevin, to clarify, it's not that I don't like Hedy, it's just that her work has never really come across my radar. But the roles I have seen from her, I've liked a lot. This one was a very fun, quirky little movie and I thoroughly enjoyed it.


Thank you for your kind comments, which I adore!