A Royal Scandal
20th Century Fox
Released: March 16, 1945
Director: Otto Preminger
Cast: Charles Coburn, William Eythe, Anne Baxter, Vincent Price
Tallulah's Role: Catherine The Great
Ernst Lubitsch first approached Tallulah about playing Catherine The Great in his new comedy, but had to hand over directing duties to his assistant, Otto Preminger, after he suffered a heart attack. Shortly before the cameras started to roll, Lubitsch phoned Preminger with the exciting news that Greta Garbo was interested in playing Catherine and that he should make the announcement to Tallulah. Preminger would not budge. Five years earlier, Tallulah had helped Preminger and his family immigrate to the U.S. Lubitsch was furious, but could do nothing because even Darryl Zanuch wanted Tallulah. She was said to have hated Lubitsch from that day on.
For the most part, filming went smoothly. Tallulah clashed with Anne Baxter, as she did with most young female ingenues. At one point, Lubitsch, who was visiting the set, accused her of stealing one of Baxter's important scenes. Tallulah was outraged and demanded an apology. It turned out that Preminger had instructed her to play the scene that way.
Tallulah shared a warm friendship with Vincent Price who played the French Ambassador. Price delighted in Tallulah's behavior and they often spent time during breaks in his dressing room. On one visit, he noticed that Tallulah was sitting on his toilet seat. Later, as they were talking, he realized that she had raised the lid and was urinating. "If she hadn't done that eventually, I would have been disappointed!", he later said.
A Royal Scandal did not enjoy the success of Lifeboat and was criticized for being too heavy-handed for a comedy. Tallulah received good reviews, however, and it is a film that is enjoyed by her fans today.
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