What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Love Me Tonight (1932)

This time around, we’ve got some great pre-Code musical fun with the classic 1932 film Love Me Tonight starring Maurice Chevalier, as well as Jeanette MacDonald! But first, we need a theatrical short to get us started, and we’ve got another one from the Ant And The Aardvark series, available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Ant And The Aardvark from Kino Lorber! After that, we’ll get straight into the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Never Bug An Ant (1969)

(Length: 6 minutes, 13 seconds)

The aardvark tries to catch the ant using various methods (particularly using the attraction of sugar). Very formulaic cartoon here, which doesn’t stray from the “hunter vs. prey” formula. In spite of that, there are a few fun gags here, and the dialogue itself provides as much of the laughter as the physical comedy. Not the series’ best, but it still manages to entertain when I watch it!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Narrator): Ah, it’s Paris in the early morning. Everybody is waking up. The rhythm of the city coming to life. But, of course, “That’s The Song Of Paris!” Or so sings the tailor Maurice Courtelin (Maurice Chevalier) as he gets started for the day. Not long after opening up for the day, one of his customers, Vicomte Gilbert de Vareze (Charles Ruggles), comes running in to the store in his underwear (since he had to run away from a jealous husband), and asks for one of his suits. He is unable to pay at the moment, but promises to get the money from the Duke and pay his bill.

(Host): Oh, if it was only that simple.

(Narrator): Indeed, but we have to have SOME conflict for the story to happen here, don’t we? But, back to our tale. After the Vicomte leaves, Maurice finishes dealing with another customer who had bought a wedding suit, and Maurice remarks about how his abilities as a tailor are helping out others with their romances, and dreams of enjoying romance himself.

(Host): “Isn’t It Romantic?”

(Narrator): You would bring that earworm up! For that is indeed what it is, the way the song catches on in the movie! The customer finds it to be a catchy tune, and starts humming it as he leaves the shop. A cabby takes it up, and his passenger, a composer starts working on the tune. Then a group of soldiers, who sing it as they march, on to some gypsy musicians, and all the way to the Chateau d’Artelines, where the princess Jeanette (Jeanette MacDonald) starts singing it as well.

(Host): (Sighs) “Isn’t It Romantic?”

(Narrator): The needle is getting stuck in a crack. But, no matter. At the castle, the Duke d’Artelines (C. Aubrey Smith) argues with his niece, the Countess Valentine (Myrna Loy), who wants some money, but he refuses to give her any. The Vicomte arrives, with plans to ask his uncle for the money he owes Maurice. However, the Duke is angry, and refuses to give him the money (and forbids him from leaving). Not long after, Maurice and some of the other merchants are infuriated when they find out that the Vicomte is not known for paying his bills. Maurice vows to the others that he will storm the castle himself and get their money. They send him off in a car with all the stuff that the Vicomte had ordered, although it breaks down in the countryside. While the driver tries to repair it, Jeanette comes along driving a horse-drawn buggy, which goes off the road when trying to pass the car. Maurice is instantly infatuated with her, and helps her get the buggy back on the road.

(Host): Ah, his “Mimi.”

(Narrator): “Mimi, you funny little good for nothing, Mimi. Am I the guy? Mi -” (muttering under his breath) Darn it, now he’s got that stuck in there, too! (Back to normal) Although slightly flattered, Jeanette leaves him in a huff. Once back at the castle, she drops in a faint. A doctor is called, as she has been having fainting spells for a while. After examining her, the doctor suggests either marriage or exercise to help her out. Not too much later, Maurice arrives at the castle. He runs through the castle, but doesn’t find anybody as he climbs the stairs. Returning to the main floor, he finally sees some people. As he searches for the Vicomte, he meets the Duke (but assumes he is a servant, since he is cleaning a suit of armor). When the Vicomte walks in, he tries to keep Maurice quiet about his reason for being there. The Vicomte introduces Maurice to everyone as a baron, and they all start to insist he stay. He is reluctant, until Jeanette walks through, and agrees to stay.

(Host): “Mimi -“

(Narrator): Don’t. You. Dare. Anyways, Maurice wins everyone over as a baron (well, not quite everyone, as Jeanette is still trying to resist his charms). They have a stag hunt, and Jeanette puts him on the roughest horse, which takes off with him for parts unknown. The rest of the hunt commences, with the hunting dogs chasing down the stag. Jeanette follows some of the dogs to a cottage, where she finds Maurice feeding the stag some oats. In doing so, Maurice effectively calls off the hunt. Upon their return, one of Jeanette’s potential suitors, Count de Savignac (Charles Butterworth), reveals to the Duke that Maurice is not the Baron Courtelin. However, the Vicomte hints that Maurice might be royalty traveling under a false name. Later, a costume party is given for the baron. During the party, the Countess Valentine continually flirts with Maurice, which results in Jeanette leaving. Maurice follows her, and finds her when she faints. He kisses her, which wakes her back up. After she slaps him a few times, she becomes more receptive to his advances, and says that she will love him no matter what. The next day, Maurice comes in when Jeanette is having a new riding habit designed by her seamstress. He dislikes it, which insults the seamstress. Everyone else responds to the seamstress being insulted, and they come in on Jeanette being measured by Maurice in a slight state of undress. To get himself out of trouble, Maurice promises to put together a riding habit for her in two hours, which everybody else scoffs at.

(Host): Well, obviously, we all know he’s a tailor, so he should be able to do it. But, will the princess still love him when she realizes that he is a tailor?

(Narrator): Indeed, that is the question, and there we end our description of the story.

(Host): Love Me Tonight was the third of four films that Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald made together. At the time, they were two of the biggest stars at Paramount Studios. However, they were both drawing big salaries, and hadn’t been assigned any new films. Ernst Lubitsch, who had directed them in two earlier films, was being difficult as a result of contract negotiations, so director Rouben Mamoulian was hired. Mamoulian brought in the songwriting team of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart to write the music. He went for a bold move in having them write the music first, before putting the script together, making Love Me Tonight the first integrated film musical, in which the songs actually served to help further the plot and develop the characters.

Love Me Tonight was a movie I had kind of heard of. I’ve seen the 1934 Merry Widow with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald previously (mostly because I’m a fan of Jeanette MacDonald), and because of that, I at least knew that the two of them had made four films together (but I couldn’t have told you the names of the first three). Love Me Tonight caught my attention a year or so back when it was revealed as a title that had been licensed by Kino Lorber through Universal Studios for release on Blu-ray. Upon looking it up, I was thrilled to see that it was one of Jeanette MacDonald’s films, and eagerly looked forward to seeing it! Of course, that was just a reveal that it was coming, and not a release announcement (with a date attached), so I’d been patiently waiting for news on when it would come out. Of course, I was thrilled when it was said that it would be getting a new 4K remaster, which no doubt slowed down the release (particularly when the pandemic hit).

Of course, now that it’s available (and I’ve got a copy in my hands), you’re all wondering what I think of it. Well, first off, the movie looks FANTASTIC!! The picture looks great here, certainly better than I could have hoped for! It’s not absolutely pristine, but it’s close enough that few should have many complaints! And as to the movie itself, I was expecting a good movie, but it was better than I expected! The music was fun (and obviously some songs were more memorable than others 😉 ), the cast was fun (including Myrna Loy as the man-hungry Countess, before The Thin Man really revealed her comedic talents on a bigger scale), and the pre-Code elements certainly made for some fun and *slightly* more adult humor. The film was far better than I could have imagined for a movie still so early in the sound era. Honestly, it’s a great movie, and one I would DEFINITELY recommend seeing, especially through the new Blu-ray!

(Host): “Mimi, you funny little -“

(Narrator covers up host’s mouth with rag)

(Narrator): Wouldn’t you know it, folks, we had to end with the best gag in the whole post!

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #3 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2020

**ranked #6 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2020

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Maurice Chevalier – Love In The Afternoon (1957)

Monte Carlo (1930)Jeanette MacDonaldThe Cat And The Fiddle (1934)

Myrna Loy – The Thin Man (1934)

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