Except that it wasn't a hit and shooting the picture was not so light-hearted.
As great as Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe were in their separate careers, they brought little in the way of chemistry to the screen.
Accept that Olivier, the director and star of the 1957 film, "The Prince and the Showgirl", found the often temperamental and always-late Miss Monroe a major pain. Her acting teacher, Paula Strasberg, wife of Lee Strasberg a founder of the "Method" based Actor's Studio in New York City, ran interference between Olivier and his co-star. Her husband at the time, the great playwright Arthur Miller, was caught up in his own problems with her, exacerbated by her finding out she was the main subject of some notes he was making for a play. "She's devouring me," Miller says at one point to Olivier (Kenneth Branagh) and soon he flies back to New York City to visit his kids and Sir Larry is left to try and manage her truancy and constant blown lines from the set without any help from home.
One of the best things in the film is watching Branagh (as Olivier) slowly depart from the affable and generous actor-director he purports to be when the project begins and then--a few days into the shooting--realizes that Monroe is both nearly impossible to direct and also quite irreplaceable as far as his producers are concerned. He descends from a patronizing theatrical giant into a small and agitated man mumbling savage lines from his previous screen incarnation as "Richard III".
Adding to his sense of insecurity is that fact that, despite her delaying tactics and neurosis, Monroe's "good days" on the set steal the film away from him. Somehow, in a inexplicable way, she is a natural before the camera, and the damn thing loves her--and that same love eludes him.
The main plot here follows a brief affair Monroe has with an assistant director on the film named Colin Clarke . This throws the whole hierarchy "Larry" and his American producer have carefully set up on its ear. Suddenly a non-entity is the only person on the crew Marilyn will deal with, so make that two indispensable people. Eventually the film gets made. Clarke tries to "save" Marilyn, as all men want to do when this seemingly vulnerable woman lets them into her life, but she things are a lot more complicated than that.
The whole "Olivier/Monroe Flying Circus" movie ends with a rather nice twist and so does the brief and unusual affair between the blond bombshell and young Clarke. The film is based on the latter's 1995 memoir "The Prince, the Showgirl and Me" and all I can say is that if this story is true it's amazing because the whole brief affair plays like a young male's wildest dream. Only the ending has the bite of a real fling.
Michelle Williams as Marilyn is incredible. She might even be better than the original. And that's just her walk!
Anyway, a fun movie for old time film fans, and a break from all the 3-D kid flicks and techno-action films.