The Swan is a pleasant, highly entertaining, and occasionally surprising bit of fluff, a delightful chocolate soufflé with an unexpected bittersweet aftertaste. Set among the royal classes, it's a film that's really all about style -- and, therefore, the kind of film that can fall apart if any wrong notes are played. Fortunately, director Charles Vidor keeps a delicate, yet firm, hold on the proceedings, ensuring that every scene is played with just the right amount of muted emotion and not-too-taut tension. He's helped immeasurably by his cast, each of whom is exactly in tune with the director. Grace Kelly, of course, is anyone's dream of a princess, but it's delightful how well this most sophisticated of stars convincingly conveys the naïveté and shyness that is essential to the character. Louis Jourdan is utterly charming as the teacher who loves her, and Agnes Moorehead is a properly commanding and withering Queen Mother, but it is Alec Guinness who stands tallest among the cast, using those rubbery eyebrows and that mouth with a mind of its own to let the audience in on his character's real desires and thoughts. The Swan is carefully constructed, but it still manages to make some unexpected comments about love and responsibility, and end on a final note that is both romantic and melancholy. A lovely little picture, The Swan is an elegant diversion.
by Craig Butler review