In a small English village in 1817, a young woman dressed like a gypsy and wearing a turban appears from out of nowhere. She speaks a mysterious foreign language and apparently her name is Caraboo (Phoebe Cates). The wealthy matron of an elegant country estate, Jane Worrall (Wendy Hughes), takes her in, partly out of sympathy, but also out of curiosity. Indeed, the whole village is intrigued with her and her origin. Before long, most are convinced she is a princess from a South Sea island. She becomes the toast of the town and is treated royally, including lavish costume balls in her honor. But a local newspaperman, John Gutch (Stephen Rea), isn’t at all convinced she’s a princess and pursues his suspicion that she is an ordinary house servant from London. Although John works diligently to uncover Caraboo’s identity, he succumbs to her charms and they fall in love. How all this turns out makes for an entertaining story which keeps the audience guessing right down to the final minutes. Based on a true story, PRINCESS CARABOO is an enjoyable film which will appeal more to adults than children.
Set in an aristocratic society of nineteenth century England, PRINCESS CARABOO takes on the genteel, sophisticated character of that setting. Even the princess has a royal air about her and a gentle, kind temperament. She also has her humorous, mischievous side. Mr. Worrall (Jim Broadbent) and one of his corrupt banking cohorts are the only real scoundrels as they scheme to use the princess to develop a trading monopoly in the South Seas. Happily, the romance between John and the princess does not deteriorate into a sexual affair and he is prepared to follow her to the ends of the earth. On the other hand, Mr. Worrall has an eye for one of his young female house servants and Mrs. Worrall is convinced they are having an affair. In true aristocratic style, the dialogue has only a few minor crudities and violence is confined to one obscured beating and a hand biting. PRINCESS CARABOO is a pleasant surprise among today’s film offerings and is free of the offensive elements which plague so many of today’s films.