The Little Prince (1974 film)

The Little Prince is a 1974 British-American fantasy-musical film with screenplay and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, music by Frederick Loewe. It was both directed and produced by Stanley Donen and based on the 1943 classic children-adult's novella, The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), by the writer, poet and aviator Count Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who disappeared near the end of the Second World War some 15 months after his fable was first published.

The Little Prince
The Little Prince 1974 poster.jpg
Directed byStanley Donen
Produced byStanley Donen
Screenplay byAlan Jay Lerner
Based onThe Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
StarringSteven Warner
Richard Kiley
Bob Fosse
Gene Wilder
Donna McKechnie
Joss Ackland
Victor Spinetti
Music byFrederick Loewe (score)
Alan Jay Lerner (lyrics)
CinematographyChristopher Challis
Edited byPeter Boita
George Hively
Stanley Donen Films
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
‹See TfM›
  • November 7, 1974 (1974-11-07)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States[1]

The film and its music were unsuccessful at the box office but became somewhat popular after its theatrical run, and has been released for sale on various media.[2][3]


The original Little Prince was first published in 1943, and is the most famous work of the French aristocrat, writer, poet and pioneering aviator Count Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900–1944). It is a poetic tale self-illustrated in watercolours in which a pilot stranded in the desert meets a young prince fallen to Earth from a tiny asteroid. The story is philosophical and includes societal criticism, remarking on the strangeness of the adult world.

Though ostensibly a children's book, The Little Prince makes several profound and idealistic observations about life and human nature. For example, Saint-Exupéry tells of a fox meeting the young prince during his travels on Earth. The story's essence is contained in the lines uttered by the fox to the little prince: On ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux. ("One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye.")[4] Other key thematic messages are articulated by The Fox, such as: "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed" and "It is the time you have devoted to your rose that makes your rose so important." The Fox's messages are arguably the most famous because of their nature of dealing with relationships.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote and illustrated The Little Prince in New York City and Asharoken, N.Y. in mid-to-late 1942 while exiled in the United States after the Fall of France, with the manuscript being completed in October.[5] It would be first published in early 1943 in both English and French, but only in the U.S. It would later appear in his native homeland of France posthumously, after the liberation of Paris,[6] as all of Saint-Exupéry's works had been banned in Nazi-occupied France. Since first being published the novella has been adapted to various media over the decades, including audio recordings, stage, ballet, and operatic works.

The fantasy-musical film adaptation of The Little Prince was directed and produced by Stanley Donen, and stars Steven Warner in the title role, with Richard Kiley as the aviator, titled as The Pilot. Additional cast members included Bob Fosse as The Snake, Gene Wilder as The Fox, Donna McKechnie as the petulant, vain Rose, Joss Ackland as The King, and Victor Spinetti as The Historian. The film's desert sequences were shot on location in Tunisia. In real life, The Fox's character is believed to be based on one of Saint-Exupéry's lovers, Sylvia Hamilton Reinhardt, with The Rose being attributed to the author's wife, the Countess Consuelo de Saint Exupéry.

The production was Lerner and Loewe's final musical. The music's creative team were dissatisfied with the film's Hollywood treatment, with Loewe refusing to visit London to supervise the arrangement and recording of the score.[citation needed]


Based in the 1943 classic book of the same name by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the fable tells the story of an aviator (played by Richard Kiley) forced to make an emergency landing in the Sahara Desert. There he is befriended by a young boy, the Little Prince, who had descended to Earth from Asteroid B-612. In the days that follow, The Pilot hears about his past and various journeys throughout the solar system.

As he travels through space, the Little Prince encounters several strange grown-ups on different planetoids, all with a skewed or curious way of looking at life. But it is not until he finally reaches Earth, that the Little Prince learns his most important life lessons of all, mainly from The Fox (Gene Wilder), and The Snake (Bob Fosse). Before the Little Prince dies, he shares those lessons with The Pilot. Although The Pilot tries to keep the Little Prince alive, the boy disappears in the morning and The Pilot searches for him in the desert but gives up after realizing that the Little Prince never existed. Soon The Pilot is able to start his plane and flies away but hears the laughter of the Little Prince in the starry night; he believes the boy has returned to space.


Richard Burton was actively pursued for the role of The Pilot. Burton had had a huge success on Broadway with Lerner and Loewe's musical production Camelot, but turned down the role in The Little Prince.

Musical numbersEdit

  1. Overture - Orchestra
  2. "It's a Hat/I Need Air" - Chorus/The Pilot
  3. "I'm on Your Side" - The Pilot
  4. "Be Happy" - The Rose
  5. "You're a Child, Pt. 1" - The King
  6. "You're a Child, Pt. 2" - The Businessman
  7. "I Never Met a Rose" - The Pilot
  8. "Why Is the Desert" - The Pilot and The Little Prince
  9. "A Snake in the Grass" - The Snake
  10. "Closer and Closer and Closer" - The Fox and The Little Prince
  11. "Little Prince" - The Pilot
  12. "Finale: Little Prince" - Chorus


The film was shot on location in Tunisia.

In 1973, Lerner and Loewe recorded the score at the Palm Springs Desert Museum, with Lerner on vocals and Loewe at the piano. It included "Matters of Consequence", which was cut from the film. It is one of only a few existing recordings of the duo performing together.

The film had production design by John Barry (not to be confused with composer John Barry, who later composed a musical adaptation of The Little Prince for Broadway).


A soundtrack album was released by ABC Records.[7] It is now available in CD format on the Decca Records label.[8]


The film opened at Radio City Music Hall in New York City on November 7, 1974[9] in a show including The Nativity, The Rockettes and the Will Irwin Orchestra and grossed $215,000 in its opening week.[10]


Bob Fosse appears in the film as The Snake for one song, "A Snake in the Grass", during which he does a dance sequence that he choreographed, which includes trademark Fosse elements such as hip thrusts, jazz hands and use of hat and jacket as props. This scene in the film has been speculated to have been a major influence on singer Michael Jackson's costume and choreography for performances of his 1982 hit song "Billie Jean". Fosse's dance sequence even included a variation on the moonwalk, a dance step that Jackson included in his "Billie Jean" performances that later became his signature move.[11]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ "The Little Prince". American Film Institute. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  2. ^ Block, Geoffrey. "Loewe, Frederick." In Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online, Oxford University Press. Accessed August 4, 2009.
  3. ^ Winn, Steven. "Little Prince' Opera Comes To Berkeley" San Francisco Chronicle. April 27, 2008. p.N–20. Accessed August 4, 2009.
  4. ^ Galembert, Laurent de Bodin de (2000) Idée, Idéalisme et Idéologie Dons les Oeuvres Choisies de Saint Exupéry (thèse), Université Paris IV, 29 Juin 2000, p.13. (in French)
  5. ^ Schiff (2006), p. 379.
  6. ^ "Le Petit Prince - 1945 - Gallimard." Archived 2002-02-25 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 26 October 2011. Note: although Saint-Exupéry's French publisher (at the time of his death) lists Le Petit Prince as being published in 1946, that apparently is a legalistic interpretation possibly designed to allow for an extra year of the novella's copyright protection period, and is based on Gallimard's explanation that sales of the book started only in 1946. Other sources, such as this one, depict the first Librairie Gallimard printing of 12,250 copies as occurring on 30 November 1945.
  7. ^ The Little Prince (Motion Picture Soundtrack) - Original Soundtrack - AllMusic
  8. ^ Alan Jay Lerner, Frederick Loewe: The Little Prince (1974 Film Soundtrack): Music, Amazon
  9. ^ The Little Prince at the American Film Institute Catalog
  10. ^ "'Prince' Gives N.Y. Tall 215G; 'Lenny' First Day of $14,981; 'Pelham' 65G, 'Amarcord' 31G". Variety. November 13, 1974. p. 10.
  11. ^ Knopper, Steve (October 5, 2015). "Inside Michael Jackson's Iconic First Moonwalk Onstage". Rolling Stone.


External linksEdit