The film stars Leslie Caron as Cinderella, and Michael Wilding as the Prince, with Keenan Wynn, Estelle Winwood, Elsa Lanchester, Barry Jones, Lurene Tuttle, Liliane Montevecchi and Walter Pidgeon as Narrator.
The film received its network television premiere divided into two episodes on the 1967 ABC-TV anthology series Off To See The Wizard.
Ella, who is sometimes teased as "Cinderella", is a lonely and misunderstood young woman who lives in a European principality. An orphan who has become an almost-servant to her stepmother the Widow Sonder and stepsisters Birdina and Serafina, she is shunned by the townspeople because of her anti-social behavior and constant boasting that she will live in the palace one day (as a gypsy told her late mother three years prior to Ella's birth).
Prince Charles is the son of the Duke who rules the principality. The Prince has been studying at the University of Paris for many years, and the Duke is delighted that he has returned, which will be celebrated by three days of festivities and a ball on the final day. Now that Charles is back, he starts to recall old memories he had of growing up there, including a small girl with unbearably sad eyes whom he saw crying when he was just a boy.
After getting into a spat with her stepfamily over the Prince's appearance, Ella runs away to her favorite place, which is a small secluded pool on the Palace grounds. There she meets an eccentric old woman named Mrs. Toquet who becomes her first friend.
The next day she returns to the spot, hoping to meet Mrs. Toquet, but instead finds Charles and his friend Kovin. Ella asks them where they are from and they tell her that they come from the Palace, with Kovin saying that Charles is the son of the Chief Cook in the Palace. Charles then recognises Ella's eyes as those belonging to the girl he saw years ago. Ella thinks that he is making fun of her and pushes him into the pool. Charles is intrigued by Ella and has Kovin talk to the people of the principality to find out everything he can about her.
That same day, Cousin Loulou visits the Sonder home. Ella is supposed to be all cleaned up to receive their guest, but her stepfamily is scandalized when they discover that she is barefoot. Ella remembers that she left her shoes at the pond, so she runs off to collect them, only to find Charles waiting for her with the shoes. Ella apologizes for pushing him into the water and he apologizes for hurting her feelings. They talk, and Charles gives her an invitation to the Ball, to which Ella replies that she cannot dance. Charles says that she should learn to dance since she's going to live in the Palace some day, and offers a dancing lesson. After a waltz Charles steals a kiss, and Ella runs away.
After the Widow Sonder, Birdina and Serafina leave for the ball, Mrs. Toquet arrives, bringing with her a ball gown and pair of glass slippers she says that she has borrowed for Ella's use. She has also somehow arranged for a coach to take Ella to the palace. Mrs. Toquet tells Ella she has to leave the Palace by midnight.
At the Palace Ball, Ella is besieged by young men wanting to dance with her, but she refuses to speak to anyone, focusing all her attention on trying to reach the Palace kitchens to find Charles. When Charles learns of her presence, he waltzes with her and persuades her to look up at him. Ella is stunned to find that her friend is the Prince.
The other guests, not knowing who the newcomer is, note her exotic colouring and surmise that she is a foreign lady of noble birth, perhaps Egyptian because of her short hair. When the clock strikes midnight, Ella runs away, leaving one of her glass slippers behind, which is then picked up by Charles. While fleeing the palace, Ella's coach overturns; in the confused aftermath, the dazed Ella sees not a wrecked coach, but a pumpkin crawling with several mice. She loses consciousness and wakes the next morning in her stepmother's house, in her everyday clothes.
Prince Charles informs his father that he has met the woman he wants to marry. Kovin, picking up on what he's overheard at the party, hurriedly "explains" that Ella is a princess of Egypt.
By the next morning, everyone has heard that the Prince has chosen an Egyptian Princess to be his bride. When Ella hears this news, she is devastated. Ella decides to run away, first stopping at her favorite place to see Mrs. Toquet, to whom she bids farewell. Ella throws herself down to the ground sobbing, until she hears a familiar voice. She looks up and sees the Prince. He holds her lost glass slipper, which he declares will fit the foot of the princess he intends to marry.
After glancing briefly at the crowd of people who have just arrived, including Ella's stepmother and stepsisters, the Prince and Ella adjourn to the Palace to be married.
Unlike most versions of this tale, it appears that Mrs. Toquet was able to send Ella to the ball because she was a shrewd old woman with connections. However, in a brief concluding scene, Mrs. Toquet walks calmly away from the village and vanishes into thin air. The narrator affirms that she was Ella's fairy godmother all along.Ella — Leslie Caron
Prince Charles — Michael Wilding
Widow Sonder — Elsa Lanchester (Ella's stepmother)
Birdina — Amanda Blake (Ella's stepsister)
Serafina — Lisa Daniels (Ella's stepsister)
The Duke — Barry Jones (Prince Charles' father)
Mrs. Toquet — Estelle Winwood
Kovin — Keenan Wynn
Cousin Lulu — Lurene Tuttle
Eleanor and Herbert Farjeon had written a 1944 play about Cinderella, The Glass Slipper. MGM bought the film rights in 1953 as a vehicle for Leslie Caron.
Caron had just had a big hit at the studio in Lili so MGM reunited her with that film's producer and director for Glass Slipper. Anatole de Grunwald was assigned to write the script. However eventually script duties went to Helen Deutsch, who wrote Lilli.
The Farjeons are not credited on the final film. Deutsch claimed her script was basically an original work:
MGM gave me one word, 'Cinderella'. That's how it started. I read practically everything written about this famous waif, rejection most conceptions of the character. Actually my Cinderella of the 18th century is not based definitely on anyone's ideas but my own. Waifs have intrigued the reading public for generations; they were popular characters in the early movies - the Gish era - then gave way to more worldly females. I first revived the waif successfully in Lili.
Lili had a hit song "Hi Lili Hi Lo, lyrics by Helen Deutsch; the same team wrote one for Glass Slipper, "Take My Love". Deutsch also wrote the libretto for the ballet scenes.
The male lead was given to Michael Wilding, who was then married to MGM contract star Elizabeth Taylor and was under contract to the studio himself.
Taina Elg was to have made her dramatic debut in the film but in the end MGM decided to only use her as a dancer. Eventually it was decided that Elg would debut in The Prodigal and not appear in Glass Slipper at all. She was replaced by Liliane Montevecchi. The Ballet de Paris appeared in some scenes.
Keenan Wynn was withdrawn from Deep in My Heart to appear in the film.
The score was composed by Bronislau Kaper and conducted by Miklós Rózsa, with orchestrations by Robert Franklyn. Additional recording sessions were conducted by Johnny Green. Helen Deutsch wrote lyrics for the song "Take My Love" to music by Kaper. Vocals for actor Michael Wilding were performed by Gilbert Russell.
The complete score, including alternate versions of the three ballets by Kaper, was released in 2005 on compact disc on the Film Score Monthly label.
The choreography was by Roland Petit.
According to MGM records the film earned $1,363,000 in the US and Canada and $1,589,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $387,000.