Crowned with John Goodman’s lovable loutishness and a regally droll performance by Peter O’Toole, King Ralph doesn’t carry much weight in the story department, though the wispy premise is handled with a blend of sprightly comedy and sappy romance.
Britain’s entire royal family dies in a pre-credit sequence, resulting in a boorish American nightclub entertainer – the product of a dalliance between a prince and the American’s paternal grandmother – becoming king.
After that, it’s a basic fish-out-of-water tale, with King Ralph (Goodman) adjusting to the perks and constraints of nobility, aided by a group of harried advisers including his mentor Willingham (O’Toole) and officious bureaucratic Phipps (Richard Griffiths).
John Hurt plays a British lord seeking to bring the new king down so his own family can regain the throne. He facilitates a liaison between the king and a buxom lower-class British girl (Camille Coduri) in order to force his resignation.
Lensing was done on UK locations and at London’s Pinewood Studios.