“Screen Team (Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy) Of The Month (January 2022)” Featuring Jeanette MacDonald in… The Cat And The Fiddle (1934)

We’re back again for another solo film featuring half of this month’s Screen Team, Jeanette MacDonald! For that, we’ve got her 1934 film The Cat And The Fiddle with Ramon Novarro!

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Loan Stranger (1942)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 50 seconds)

When Woody’s car breaks down, he gets a loan from a loan shark (or wolf in this case). After thirty days, the wolf comes to collect, but Woody won’t give him the money! This one was back to being fun (after the previous one was a bit of a letdown), as Woody takes on the wolf (and, based on the introduction to the wolf, it’s hard not to cheer for Woody)! The gags are fun, and we also have Woody singing “Everybody Thinks I’m Crazy” again for more hilarity! Kent Rogers does pretty well here voicing both characters (a fact I wouldn’t have known had I not read the IMDb page!), and I know I look forward to seeing this one again and again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

In Brussels, penniless pianist and composer Victor Florescu (Ramon Novarro) makes a deal with a restaurant owner to play some music in exchange for a meal.  When Victor eats more than he agreed to, the restaurant owner tries to charge him for it, but he runs out on the bill.  He makes a successful escape when he hops into a passing cab, which is occupied by Shirley Sheridan (Jeanette MacDonald).  Victor is instantly smitten with her, and, upon arriving at their destination (which, although it is two different apartment buildings, is essentially the same spot since they are next door to each other).  Victor offers to pay the cab fare, but is unable to come up with the money.  The taxi driver (Henry Armetta) decides to take Victor’s portfolio (which contains all his music) as payment (at least, until Victor can actually come up with the money for cab fare).  In his apartment, Victor meets with his music teacher, Professor Bertier (Jean Hersholt), who has good news for him: he has an audition with an arts patron, Jules Daudet (Frank Morgan), who may ask him to write an operetta (that is, if Daudet likes Victor’s music).  Without his portfolio, Victor tries to remember his music, but is interrupted when a neighbor tries to play their own music.  Victor tries to complain through the window, only to discover that the neighbor playing the music is none other than Shirley!  Victor climbs across, and helps her out with some music that she is writing, before remembering his appointment with Daudet that afternoon.  He rushes off to find the taxi driver who has his music portfolio, and, upon finding him, stops traffic while they argue.  A passerby named Charles (Charles Butterworth) loans Victor the money for the portfolio, and Victor rushes off to meet with Daudet.  He is late for the audition, and starts an argument with Daudet before realizing who he is (which almost ends everything right there), but Victor’s declarations of his love for Shirley and how that love is more important than the audition cause Daudet to reconsider.  Daudet is mildly interested in Victor’s music, but while he is playing, Shirley comes to the conservatory looking for Professor Bertier.  She plays her music for him, and Daudet offers to publish her new song.  However, she slaps him when he tries to get fresh with her, and leaves.  Later, Shirley also comes to the realization that she loves Victor, but Daudet tells Victor that, if he is to write the operetta that’s been commissioned, he must do it in Paris.  Much to Daudet’s surprise, Victor declines, preferring to stay with Shirley.  Still, Daudet publishes Shirley’s song, which turns out to be a big hit, and both Shirley and Victor move to Paris.  It doesn’t work out too well for Victor, though, as he struggles to write his operetta in the midst of Shirley’s success, and he plans to return to Brussels.  When Shirley announces her plan to return with him, a jealous Daudet convinces Victor that Shirley would ruin her career if she went back.  Reluctantly, Victor fakes not being in love with her anymore, and returns to Brussels alone. He finishes his operetta, and goes into rehearsal, with the former operetta star Odette Brieux (Vivienne Segal) in the female lead, and her wealthy husband backing the show (at least, until he catches Odette kissing a reluctant Victor and withdraws his backing). Now, Victor is without a leading lady and a leading man, and also facing trouble for writing a bad check. His friend Charles (who is playing the harp for the show) turns to Shirley for help, but she refuses. Will Victor be able to put on his operetta? Will he and Shirley ever get back together?

After filming Love Me Tonight (1932) for Paramount Studios, Jeanette MacDonald took a trip to Europe, and, while there, she signed with MGM. The Cat And The Fiddle, which was based on the hit 1931 Broadway musical of the same name, was her first film under that contract. She was paired up with tenor Ramon Novarro (whose career was already on the downturn at this time), and the film was given a decent-sized budget to work with, part of which went towards filming the finale in the new three-strip Technicolor process (previously used mainly for Walt Disney’s cartoons, since he held exclusive rights for a few years). The movie ended up not doing very well at the box office (resulting in MGM opting not to renew Novarro’s contract the next year), but it did provide a model for the type of movie that would work for Jeanette herself (especially when she was paired up with Nelson Eddy the following year for Naughty Marietta).

In preparation for this month’s Screen Team blogathon, I decided to go with The Cat And The Fiddle for Jeanette MacDonald because it was a new film for me. As has been the usual for the films I’ve seen so far with her in them, I liked it! I thought the story was fun, and I thought the two leads had some good chemistry (nowhere near as much as she had with either Nelson Eddy or Maurice Chevalier, but good enough to help carry the movie). I will admit, I didn’t really find the score by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach that memorable overall, but the tune “The Night Was Made For Love” stuck with me (helped, obviously, by Jeanette’s beautiful singing voice). The movie did have some good comedic moments, with one of the main standouts being early in the movie, when Novarro’s Victor is running out on his food bill and joins a passing parade, causing the marching band to speed up their beat (and go from walking to running as they played)! Seeing it switch from black-and-white to color for the last five minutes was also interesting (and, leading into it, you could tell that they were about to do something special). Admittedly, it could use a good restoration to improve how it looks, but that can only happen if they actually have the film elements to do so, and I currently have no idea whether they do or not. It may not be Jeanette at her absolute best, but it’s still an entertaining pre-Code that I think is worth recommending!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 29 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Love Me Tonight (1932)Jeanette MacDonaldNaughty Marietta (1935)

Fast And Loose (1930) – Frank Morgan – The Good Fairy (1935)

Going Hollywood (1933) – Sterling Holloway – Remember The Night (1940)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Film Legends Of Yesteryear: Screen Team & “Screen Team Of The Month (January 2022)” Featuring Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy in… The Girl Of The Golden West (1938)

Now that we’ve done one solo film each for Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, our Screen Team Of The Month (and we still have one more solo film for each to finish out the month), it’s time to focus on one of the eight films that they made together! In this instance, it’s their 1938 film The Girl Of The Golden West!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Ace In The Hole (1942)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 48 seconds)

Stable boy Woody Woodpecker longs to fly in the planes, but the bulldog sergeant refuses to let him. My own opinion is that this one is fun, but not quite as good as the previous ones in the set. It’s a wartime short, making it similar to the Disney cartoons featuring Donald Duck in the army (with Pete as a sergeant). I think the humor that comes from Woody trying to deal with the sergeant is fun, especially once he gets in the plane. My biggest problem with this one is the overall concept, since Woody is a bird (and one that can and does fly in other cartoons), so the idea that he wants to fly in the planes (and doesn’t seem to fly on his own, otherwise) just kind of makes this one not work as well. It’s fun, just not as fun and original as it could be.

And Now For The Main Feature…

As a little girl, young Mary Robbins (Jeanne Ellis) loses her parents, and comes west to California on a wagon train with her Uncle Davy (Charley Grapewin). One night, when they are camped, her singing is overheard by a young Gringo (Bill Cody, Jr.), a white boy who has been adopted by the leader of a group of Mexican bandits named Ramerez, who otherwise calls himself the General (Noah Beery, Sr.). When the General decides to ride into the wagon train’s camp, his crew is mistaken for Native Americans, and the General is shot. As the years pass, the young Gringo grows up and takes on the mantle of the Mexican bandit Ramerez (Nelson Eddy), fast gaining the attention of the law. Meanwhile, the now-grown Mary (Jeanette MacDonald) is living near the town of Cloudy Mountain and has taken over the Polka Saloon from her late uncle. She is beloved by all the men in town, but particularly by her friends, Sheriff Jack Rance (Walter Pidgeon) and “Alabama” (Buddy Ebsen). Once, when she takes the stagecoach to Monterey, the stage is stopped by Ramerez, but he is taken by her and allows them to keep going after he takes some of their valuables (well, everyone else’s anyway). Since she seems to be ungrateful for his mercy, he decides to go into Monterey (unmasked) with his friend “Mosquito” (Leo Carrillo) and teach her a lesson. In Monterey, Mary stops to spend some time with her old friend Father Sienna (H. B. Warner), who asks her to sing at Mass. There, she is heard by the Governor (Monty Woolley), who asks her to sing at a ball that he is hosting. Ramerez overhears the Governor sending an army escort to bring Mary to the ball, and he decides to knock out the officer and steal his uniform. Posing as Lieutenant Johnson, he comes to pick up Mary, but drives her out into the country. He tries to kiss her, but she resists, and takes the carriage to the ball without him. However, he still makes it to the ball, and briefly dances with her. When he sees the real lieutenant looking for him, he grabs a horse and gets out of there. When she is back in Cloudy, Sheriff Rance is furious that Ramerez had stopped the coach (and some of his deputies assigned to accompany her to Monterey), and tells Mary that he will spread word that the gold is being stored at the Polka (hoping to catch Ramerez in a trap). Suspicious of a trap, Ramerez has his buddy Mosquito pretend to be him to lead a posse on a wild goose chase, and goes to the Polka. He is surprised to find Mary there (and equally as surprised to find out that she owns the place), and cancels his plan to take the gold, even though the Sheriff and all the other men took the bait from Mosquito. He is invited to come to Mary’s cabin for dinner (much to the chagrin of Ramerez’ girlfriend Nina Martinez, as played by Priscilla Lawson, who decides to turn him in to the Sheriff for the reward money). While Ramerez is at Mary’s cabin, Sheriff Rance and a few men stop by. While Ramerez hides, the Sheriff tells Mary about Ramerez, but, angry though she may be with him, she doesn’t reveal his presence to the Sheriff. However, after the Sheriff and his men leave, she orders him to go away. Upon leaving, shots are fired, and Ramerez comes back into her cabin, wounded. She tries to hide him, but the Sheriff sees his dripping blood and arrests him. Mary tries to play a game of poker against the Sheriff, offering herself in marriage to the Sheriff if she loses. Will she be able to win, or will she have to marry the Sheriff? And will Ramerez survive being shot?

The Girl Of The Golden West came from a 1905 play by David Belasco, and was preceded by three different filmed versions of the tale. Giacomo Puccini had written an opera based around the play that premiered in 1910, but when MGM came around to the 1938 film for Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, that music was jettisoned in favor of a new score by composer Sigmund Romberg and lyricist Gus Kahn. Originally, the intention was to do a Robin Hood operetta, except Jeanette MacDonald didn’t agree to it (not to mention Warner Brothers also came out with their immortal classic The Adventures Of Robin Hood), although some of the idea was retained, with Nelson’s bandit shooting arrows to stop stagecoaches. At the time of filming, Jeanette and Nelson were apparently feuding (resulting in fewer duets in the movie), as Jeanette thought that Allan Jones (her co-star in The Firefly) would have been a better fit as a Mexican bandit than Nelson. As a result, scenes were added at the start to show how he became the “Mexican” bandit Ramerez. Ray Bolger was also to have been in the film, except the film’s length resulted in his scenes being cut for time. In spite of all this, the film still turned out to be profitable for MGM and their screen team.

As I mentioned when I reviewed Deep In My Heart, I didn’t initially care for the music of composer Sigmund Romberg until I finally saw the film Maytime. Once that movie gave me a new appreciation for his music (and Deep In My Heart), the next two Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy films that I wanted to see were the other movies with music by Romberg (The Girl Of The Golden West and the 1940 New Moon). Now, given what I said before about the two stars feuding during the making of The Girl Of The Golden West (resulting in barely any duets in the movie), one would think that that would make this film an odd choice to pick for my one team-up in this month’s Screen Team blogathon. But, having reviewed their first three films together (the best movies in the series, in my opinion), I would say that The Girl Of The Golden West is my favorite of the remaining five films (besides being the fourth film in the series). The music is one of the reasons, with the songs “Señorita” and “Mariache” (at least, I think that’s the spelling for this song’s title, according to IMDb and Wikipedia at the time of this writing) being quite memorable from the two leads, plus Buddy Ebsen singing “The West Ain’t Wild Anymore” as well. It’s also quite entertaining watching Jeanette MacDonald tackle a slightly different role in this film, as her character seems less refined than what I’m used to from her, not only in her speech, but in her way of moving around as well. Nelson Eddy may not be quite as good (since he’s playing a character pretending to be Mexican when hiding behind a mask), but he (and Jeanette) are still in fine voice here. The film is certainly far from perfect, as one still can’t help but wish that they had had more duets in this movie. I also sometimes feel like some of the songs are cut short, and I wish that some of them were a bit longer. Regardless, though, this film is still quite entertaining as an entry in the MacDonald/Eddy series of movies, and I have no problems whatsoever in recommending this one, too!

This movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection, either individually or as part of the four-film set Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy Collection: Volume 1.

Film Length: 2 hours, 1 minute

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Maytime (1937)Jeanette MacDonald

Maytime (1937)Nelson EddyBalalaika (1939)

Big Brown Eyes (1936) – Walter Pidgeon – Million Dollar Mermaid (1952)

Born To Dance (1936) – Buddy Ebsen

Monty Woolley – The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942)

Maytime (1937) – Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy (screen team)

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“Screen Team (Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy) Of The Month (January 2022)” Featuring Jeanette MacDonald in… Monte Carlo (1930)

Now that we’re into the New Year (and the new Screen Team Of The Month blogathon for Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy), we’ll start off with one of Jeanette’s solo outings, the 1930 film Monte Carlo, also starring Jack Buchanan!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pantry Panic (1941)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Woody Woodpecker Screwball Collection from Universal Studios)

(Length: 6 minutes, 57 seconds)

Woody Woodpecker ignores the advice of the weather groundhog, and a cold snap hits, leaving him without any food. Then a hungry cat comes a-calling, but finds himself fighting with an equally hungry Woodpecker! Personally, I found this one to be a lot of fun! The way the winter storm comes in and takes away all the food Woody had stored up was fun (and VERY cartoonish), as were the attempts of both Woody and the cat to eat/cook each other. The character was now voiced by Danny Webb, but, in what may be my own inexperience with the character, I didn’t really notice, outside of Woody’s voice being different for one of his last lines (for whatever reason). Regardless, it was still fun (and funny)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Countess Helene Mara (Jeanette MacDonald) is just about to get married to Duke Otto Von Liebenheim (Claud Allister), but when she finds that her wedding dress doesn’t fit, she uses that excuse to run away. Leaving via train with her maid, Bertha (Zasu Pitts), she decides to go to Monte Carlo, where she hopes to win a fortune by gambling. On her way to the casino, she is seen by Count Rudolph Falliere (Jack Buchanan), who tries to flirt with her, but is ignored. At first, she seems to be winning big at the roulette table, but then she loses everything she had gained. Rudolph is determined to meet the Countess, but he is unable to find an opportunity. Finally, he gets his chance when he runs into and befriends her hairdresser, Paul (John Roche), who helps him out. In his new disguise, Rudolph becomes the Countess’ new hairdresser (although she doesn’t like the name Rudolph and prefers to call him “Paul”). She grows to like him as her hairdresser, and she quickly fires her a few of her other servants when she learns that he can also do their jobs. However, her money quickly runs out, and she has no choice but to fire him, too. Right about that time, the Duke finally finds her, and she reconsiders her engagement to him (which the Duke is fine with, even when she tells him that she would only be marrying him for his money). Wanting to help her out of her predicament, Rudolph tells her that he has been extremely lucky playing roulette, and wants to use his luck to help her out. He takes her out to the casino that night, but they find the Duke there and leave. After they go out dancing and enjoy Monte Carlo together, the Countess returns to her room, and sends Rudolph to the casino to gamble. While she awaits his return (for him, not so much the money), he goes up to his room and grabs some of his own money to give to her as his “winnings.” When he comes back, they kiss, but she asks him to come back the next day. In the morning, Bertha advises her not to become involved with her hairdresser, and she starts to act more standoffish towards Rudolph again when he arrives (which stops him from revealing who he really is). After kissing her, he leaves. Will the two of them get back together, or will she resign herself to being stuck with the Duke, whom she does not love?

With the advent of sound, director Ernst Lubitsch made his first sound film, The Love Parade (1929) as a musical with Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald (in her film debut). With that film’s success (both critically and commercially), Paramount Pictures and the director were ready for more. Due to his new fame in America, Maurice Chevalier was already busy with a few other film projects. Ernst Lubitsch still wanted Jeanette MacDonald for Monte Carlo, even though Paramount’s assistant production head David O. Selznick didn’t think she was a big enough star to carry the film (obviously, the director got his way on this one). With Maurice Chevalier unavailable, they instead cast British musical star Jack Buchanan as the male lead for the film. The Love Parade had differentiated itself from other early talkie musicals by integrating the story and the musical numbers to advance the plot, and the director wanted to continue that trend with Monte Carlo. The movie was successful, particularly for Jeanette MacDonald, as it provided her with what would become her signature tune: “Beyond The Blue Horizon.” It didn’t work out quite so well for Jack Buchanan, who didn’t make any more American films until he appeared in The Band Wagon (1953).

This was a movie that was new to me, which was part of the appeal of watching it for this month’s Screen Team blogathon. I admit, being a film from 1930, I was hesitant, since it seems like a number of the films I’ve seen from that era have struggled with the acting department (due to the then-new sound technology). I’m thrilled to say that the movie proved that idea wrong, and turned out to be a lot more fun than I expected! First off, the acting was superb here. The movie itself was quite funny, especially when making fun of Claud Allister’s Duke (or, for that matter, using the story of Monsieur Beaucaire as an opera to help explain what was going on, since the movie was partly based on that story). And, being a musical, mention must be made of the film’s music, which definitely worked for the characters and the plot. I certainly enjoyed Jeanette MacDonald’s song “Beyond The Blue Horizon,” and how the film made use of the train and its various parts to add to the song. I can easily understand how it became a big hit for her, and I know it’s been stuck in my head after seeing this movie for the first time! I would also say that I enjoyed the songs “Give Me A Moment, Please” and “Always In All Ways” quite a bit, too! The only song that felt dated and quite awkward was “Trimmin’ The Women,” and that does hurt the film just a little bit. So far, I’ve seen two of the four films Jeanette made with Maurice Chevalier, and all eight of her films with Nelson Eddy, so I can say that she doesn’t quite work as well onscreen with Jack Buchanan (although it sounds like she got along with him better off-screen than she did with Maurice Chevalier). That’s not to say that they were terrible together, as I thought they did pretty good. I’m just saying there was a reason she did more films with the other two. Overall, though, this was a very entertaining movie, and one that I am glad I was able to see! Even with its VERY MINOR issues (in my mind), I have no trouble whatsoever in recommending this one!

This movie is available on DVD from Criterion Collection as part of the four-film Eclipse Series 8: Lubitsch Musicals Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #3 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2022

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Jeanette MacDonaldLove Me Tonight (1932)

Jack Buchanan – The Band Wagon (1953)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you).  If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

TFTMM’s Screen Team Edition Presents “Screen Team Of The Month (January 2022)” Featuring Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy

Hey everybody, I’m here to wish you all a Happy New Year! And with the new year, I am resuming my celebrations of various stars and genres for every month. As I announced previously, I will be starting off 2022 with the “Singing Sweethearts” Screen Team of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy for the month of January!

Table Of Contents

Quick Film Career Bio

Jeanette MacDonald

Birth: June 18, 1903

Death: January 14, 1965

Jeannette Anna McDonald was born in Philadelphia to Daniel McDonald and Anna May in 1903. As a child, she took dancing lessons, but took up singing lessons when she joined her older sister Blossom Rock in New York in 1919. She got roles in the chorus and as second female leads in various shows until 1927, when she landed the lead in Yes, Yes, Yvette. She appeared in several more plays, including Angela, where she was spotted by film star Richard Dix. He got her screen-tested for a movie, but the play’s producers wouldn’t let her out of her contract at the time. Director Ernst Lubitsch saw that screen test later, and cast her in his first sound film, The Love Parade (1929), her first of four pairings with Maurice Chevalier. She signed with Paramount Studios, where she made several more movies (including at least one more for Lubitsch). She tried to produce a film on her own (The Lottery Bride in 1930), but it wasn’t successful. She signed with Fox Film Corporation for three movies, before taking a break from Hollywood for a European concert tour. She came back to Paramount for two more movies with Maurice Chevalier (One Hour With You and Love Me Tonight, both from 1932) before going back to Europe.

While there, she signed with MGM, where she made two films in 1934, The Cat And The Fiddle (which wasn’t much of a success) and The Merry Widow (which was a hit with critics and some audiences, but not enough to make a profit). Then she was paired with newcomer Nelson Eddy for Naughty Marietta (1935), which was much more popular with movie audiences. The following year (1936), they were teamed up again for Rose-Marie while she simultaneously proved her acting chops with a more dramatic role in San Francisco opposite Clark Gable and Spencer Tracy. Wunderkind producer Irving Thalberg made plans to have Jeanette and Nelson do a film version of the Sigmund Romberg operetta Maytime in Technicolor, but his death altered those plans. Instead, a slightly different cast was assembled for the now black-and-white film, and Maytime (1937) became a big hit with audiences. Jeanette and Nelson made two more films in 1938, The Girl Of The Golden West and MGM’s first Technicolor film, Sweethearts. She also had several solo films, including The Firefly (1937) and Broadway Serenade (1939), but neither were as successful as the films with Nelson. After Broadway Serenade, Jeanette left Hollywood for a concert tour. After some negotiations, she came back for three more films with Nelson, Smilin’ Through (1941) with her husband Gene Raymond and Cairo (1942).

With Nelson Eddy buying out his contract after a falling out with MGM head Louis B. Mayer, Jeanette also left the studio after Cairo (along with several other highly paid actresses let go by Mayer). She followed Nelson to Universal, but she only ended up filming two songs for the all-star movie Follow The Boys (1944). That was the last screen appearance she made for several years. She came back to MGM for two final films, Three Daring Daughters (1948) and the Lassie film The Sun Comes Up (1949). In the 1950s, she appeared in various stage productions (though none on Broadway, to the best of my knowledge) and various TV programs. She wanted to make a comeback on the big screen, but most of the attempts (including several with Nelson Eddy) didn’t manage to get off the ground, particularly not helped by a heart condition that had been increasingly plaguing her. In the 1960s, her health went downhill considerably, despite the attempts by doctors to operate on her. Finally, she passed away due to heart failure at the Houston Methodist Hospital on January 14, 1965.

Nelson Eddy

Birth: June 29, 1901

Death: March 6, 1967

In 1901, Nelson Ackerman Eddy was born to Caroline Isabel and William Darius Eddy in Providence, Rhode Island. His family was quite musical, as his mother was a church soloist, his grandmother was an oratorio singer and his father (who deserted his family when Nelson was fourteen) sang in the church choir, played drums, and worked both on- and off-stage. The family had to move around a lot because his father was unable to keep a steady job due partly to his alcoholism, but, after his father left, Nelson had to abandon school and get work (first at an iron works and then later as a newspaper reporter). Singing was still his love, and he started working at the Philadelphia Civic Opera Company in the 1920s. In 1927, Nelson followed his singing teacher to Dresden in Europe to study. When he was offered a job with a German opera company, he turned it down and returned to America, deciding instead to focus on doing concerts (with a handful of opera roles in between).

When he substituted last minute for diva Lotte Lehman at a sold-out concert in L.A. on February 28, 1933, the audience took to him quite well, and he received many offers to go to Hollywood. Figuring that being in the movies would help his concert career, he signed with MGM. At first, they didn’t quite know what to do with him, relegating him to quick appearances with one song each in Broadway To Hollywood (1933), Dancing Lady (1933) and Student Tour (1934). Movie audiences liked him well enough that he was promoted to the male lead opposite Jeanette MacDonald in Naughty Marietta (1935), and a new star (and screen team) was born. While starring alongside Jeanette in seven more films, he also made films opposite other leading ladies at MGM, including Eleanor Powell (Rosalie from 1937), Virginia Bruce (Let Freedom Ring from 1939), Ilona Massey (Balalaika from 1939) and Risë Stevens (The Chocolate Soldier from 1941). Around the time of what turned out to be his final film with Jeanette (I Married An Angel from 1942), Nelson had a falling out with MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, and bought out his contract. He then signed with Universal Studios for a two-picture deal. His first film there, Phantom Of The Opera (1943), didn’t quite turn out as he had hoped, and he ended things with Universal. He made a few more movies after that, mostly for independent studios, with his final film being Northwest Outpost (1947) for Republic Pictures.

By this time, he was mainly focusing on doing radio shows and making a few television appearances. He had also continued doing concerts, but the rise of television made those less profitable for him. Instead, he adapted by putting together a nightclub act. He still hoped to make some more movies, especially with Jeanette (and even tried to write a few screenplays himself towards that end), but nothing ever came of it, with their only appearances together at that point being on television on various programs. While he was performing at the Sans Souci Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida (in 1967), he suffered a cerebral hemorrhage onstage and later passed away (having been preceded in death by Jeanette nearly two years earlier).

Jeanette MacDonald Filmography

This is a list of all the films that I personally have reviewed from her filmography so far. Obviously, I will be adding to it throughout the month of January, and it is my plan to add to it as I review more and more of her films even beyond this month’s celebration.

Monte Carlo (1930)

Love Me Tonight (1932)

The Cat And The Fiddle (1934)

Naughty Marietta (1935)

Rose-Marie (1936)

San Francisco (1936)

Maytime (1937)

The Girl Of The Golden West (1938)

Nelson Eddy Filmography

This is a list of all the films that I personally have reviewed from his filmography so far. Obviously, I will be adding to it throughout the month of January, and it is my plan to add to it as I review more and more of his films even beyond this month’s celebration.

Dancing Lady (1933)

Naughty Marietta (1935)

Rose-Marie (1936)

Maytime (1937)

The Girl Of The Golden West (1938)

Balalaika (1939)

The Chocolate Soldier (1941)

Phantom Of The Opera (1943)

Make Mine Music (1946)

Entries For This Month

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man –

Monte Carlo (1930)

Make Mine Music (1946)

The Chocolate Soldier (1941)

The Girl Of The Golden West (1938)

The Cat And The Fiddle (1934)

Phantom Of The Opera (1943)

Rules:

Since this blogathon lasts a month, I’ll keep the rules here in case anybody is still interested in joining in:

  1. At this point, I am not putting any restrictions on topics related to the various stars, so you can choose to do one of their films (whether it’s one of their solo movies or one made as a team), or biographies, lists of favorites, etc.
  2. These celebrations are intended as tributes to these stars, so I would ask that any participating posts be respectful of the stars themselves. Obviously, if you don’t care for that specific star, that would probably not be a good month to join in.
  3. I’m requesting that all posts would be new material, and not any previously published ones.
  4. As previously indicated, these celebrations of the stars and genres will last a whole month each, so you will have that whole month to work with. I myself will be publishing about four or five posts per month (depending on the number of Sundays and whether there are any recent disc releases that would fit the bill), so you can decide how many you want to do (within reason).
  5. If you are interested in joining, I would certainly suggest you either comment on this post, email me at astairefan7@gmail.com, or, for the Facebook savvy, contact me at my FB page. And feel free to use the banners I have put together (due to this blogathon focusing on a team instead of one star, I will actually have several to choose from, as opposed to my usual one).

Announcing the Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy “Screen Team Of The Month (January 2022)” Blogathon

We’re less than a month away from 2022, so that means that it’s time to announce my first “Star Of The Month” blogathon of the year! Of course, as you can tell from the post title, I’m focusing on two stars instead of one (in this instance, the “Singing Sweethearts” team of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy)! Before I get any further, I would like to mention that I will focus on some other screen teams in 2022, but I will also mostly continue the focus for most months on just one star (with the exception of musical screen teams in September). I will give one hint on which months will focus on screen teams: those with five Sundays (mostly so that I can do two solo films each and one team-up). So be sure to sign up here if you’re interested in doing a film with Jeanette MacDonald and/or Nelson Eddy!

Table Of Contents

My Own Feelings On Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy

For me, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy are a pair that I’ve come around to over the last decade. I had seen some of their films before that, like San Francisco (1936) for Jeanette and Dancing Lady (1933) for Nelson (if you get technical, I’d heard him long before that since he voiced the Disney cartoon “Willie, The Operatic Whale” from the 1946 film Make Mine Music, although I mostly just saw the short on VHS as opposed to that entire movie). I had more or less heard of them through the clips used in the That’s Entertainment series, but their operatic style didn’t appeal to me, and their appearances included in the That’s Entertainment films didn’t leave much of an impression on me. Eventually, as I mentioned in my reviews for Rose-Marie (1936) and Naughty Marietta (1935), I worked my way into their films, and I’ve developed a greater appreciation for them, both together and apart. I definitely feel like their popularity has really faded with time, and that’s one reason I wanted to put the focus on them for a month. I know I look forward to seeing some new films for them, revisiting some yet-unreviewed favorites, and hopefully in the process convince others to check them out!

Roster For The Jeanette MacDonald And Nelson Eddy “Star Of The Month (January 2022)” Blogathon

Since this is obviously for next month’s blogathon on Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, then that’s all you need to worry about signing up for. As always, here are the rules that we are working with.

  1. At this point, I am not putting any restrictions on topics related to the various stars, so you can choose to do one of their films (whether it’s one of their solo movies or one made as a team), or biographies, lists of favorites, etc.
  2. These celebrations are intended as tributes to these stars, so I would ask that any participating posts be respectful of the stars themselves. Obviously, if you don’t care for that specific star (or stars), that would probably not be a good month to join in.
  3. I’m requesting that all posts would be new material, and not any previously published ones.
  4. As previously indicated, these celebrations of the stars and genres will last a whole month each, so you will have that whole month to work with. I myself will be publishing about four or five posts per month (depending on the number of Sundays and whether there are any recent disc releases that would fit the bill), so you can decide how many you want to do (within reason).
  5. If you are interested in joining, I would certainly suggest you either comment on this post, email me at astairefan7@gmail.com, or, for the Facebook savvy, contact me at my FB page. And feel free to use the banners I have put together (due to this blogathon focusing on a team instead of one star, I will actually have several to choose from, as opposed to my usual one).

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man

  • Monte Carlo (1930), The Cat And The Fiddle (1934), The Girl Of The Golden West (1938), The Chocolate Soldier (1941), Phantom Of The Opera (1943) and Make Mine Music (1946)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2021) on… Naughty Marietta (1935)

This year, the Classic Movie Blog Association (CMBA) chose the Hidden Classics Blogathon as their Spring Blogathon, in order to feature forgotten films and underrated gems that may need more attention.  For me, one of the first films to come to mind would be the 1935 operetta Naughty Marietta starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy!

Princess Marie de Namours de la Bonfain (Jeanette MacDonald) is beloved by the people, but she has a problem.  Her uncle, the Prince de Namour de la Bonfain (Douglas Dumbrille), has arranged a marriage for her with Spaniard Don Carlos de Braganza (Walter Kingsford), whom she despises.  Sadly for her, the king approves of the marriage.  It looks like there’s no way out, until she learns about the casquette girls (a group of women being sent to the American colonies to marry the men there and raise families) from her scullery maid, Marietta Franini (Helen Shipman).  Since her maid was only going because she was too poor to marry her sweetheart, Marie gives her some money and decides to take her place as a casquette girl.  Her absence is quickly noticed by her uncle, and he sends men out to find her.  She narrowly avoids being noticed right before the ship leaves.  Before the ship can make it to the New World, they are attacked by pirates (who kill the crew and bring all the women with them).  On land (before anything can happen), a group of mercenaries, lead by Captain Richard Warrington (Nelson Eddy), pass by, and, hearing cries for help, fight off the pirates and bring the women to New Orleans.  There, the women are all introduced to the governor, Gaspard d’Annard (Frank Morgan), and his wife (Elsa Lanchester) before they are taken to the convent.  With some of the men vying for her hand in marriage, Marie tries to avoid it by essentially saying that she had lied when she signed her contract (and the only thing she could go with is that she was not a woman of strong morals).  So, she is taken to another house in the village by Richard (before she escapes from him).  He later finds her working in a marionette show, and takes her out for lunch.  However, while they are eating, they hear the town talking about how her uncle had arrived and was seeking her out.  Realizing that she was a fugitive, Richard tries to help her out, but they are quickly found, and she is taken to the governor’s mansion.  There, her furious uncle tells her that she is still to go through with her arranged marriage to Don Carlos, and they will leave as soon as possible.  In the meantime, the governor and his wife host a ball in their honor.  With her uncle threatening to have Richard executed for treason if he helps her, can Marie and Richard get away together, or will she be stuck married to a man that she despises?

Naughty Marietta was based on the stage operetta of the same name by Victor Herbert and Rida Johnson.  Jeanette MacDonald had recently signed with MGM after making a number of movies for Paramount, and Naughty Marietta was originally scheduled to be one of the first she did at MGM.  She wasn’t initially enthusiastic about it, and so the idea was delayed.  When they came back around to doing the movie after her success with The Merry Widow (1934), she wanted Allan Jones as her co-star, but he was busy working opposite the Marx Brothers in A Night At The Opera (1935).  So, Nelson Eddy was cast, and the makings of another famous screen team were born.

Naughty Marietta was once a fairly popular film (after all, it did create a new, popular screen team), but, to me, it seems to have been forgotten more and more as time goes on.  Some of that, I assume, has to do with its genre.  I know movie musicals are nowhere near as popular with audiences as they once were (at least, it certainly doesn’t seem like new films are released anywhere near as much as during the Golden Age of Hollywood).  Even worse, this film is based on an operetta, and I think they are even less popular.  I admit, I myself (a self-professed fan of film musicals) was originally quite hesitant to dig into ANY of the MacDonald-Eddy films for that reason.  After all, most people have enough of a hard time with the idea of people breaking out into song and dance in the movies, never mind people with such highly trained voices like this film’s two stars (no doubt a reflection of the changes in culture as time goes on).

Still, I did eventually come around to trying out the MacDonald-Eddy films.  I started out with their second film, Rose-Marie (1936), after seeing (and enjoying) the later 1954 film version with Howard Keel (a star I was much more familiar with), and that was my gateway into the films of MacDonald and Eddy.  Naughty Marietta ended up being the next film of theirs that I had the opportunity to see, and I enjoyed it quite a bit!  The film is at its best when Jeanette and Nelson are together, whether singing a duet or developing their relationship.  Their chemistry is what makes the whole thing work.  Of course, the film is also helped by another couple, that of Frank Morgan (who admittedly looks different without his mustache, which he had to shave, under protest), and Elsa Lanchester as his perpetually annoyed (and suspicious) wife.  The way they act together says SO MUCH about their character’s relationship, and provides quite a bit of humor in the process.  Of course, the music itself is wonderful, with “Ah, Sweet Mystery Of Life” being the biggest standout.  If you can push yourself to try an operetta, I would think this movie is indeed a hidden classic, and one that deserves to be seen (and enjoyed)!

This movie is available on DVD either individually or as part of the four film Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy Collection: Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 44 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #3 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Cat And The Fiddle (1934)Jeanette MacDonaldRose-Marie (1936)

Dancing Lady (1933)Nelson EddyRose-Marie (1936)

The Good Fairy (1935) – Frank Morgan – Balalaika (1939)

Elsa Lanchester – Murder By Death (1976)

Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy (screen team) – Rose-Marie (1936)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… San Francisco (1936)

We’re back again for the classic 1936 movie San Francisco, starring Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald! Now, I had originally planned to post this back on February 14 as part of my Star Of The Month blogathon on Clark Gable, but then it was announced for release on Blu-ray, so I decided to delay it until I could see the new Blu-ray (and wrote about Mogambo instead). Still, most of what I had to say hasn’t changed, so here it is! Of course, we still have a few theatrical shorts to start things off with!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Bottles (1936)

(available as an extra on the San Francisco Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 16 seconds)

When a druggist falls asleep one night, all the bottles in his shop come to life. This one is part of MGM’s “Happy Harmonies” series of shorts, and a fun one. In usual fashion for cartoons of the era, there isn’t a lot of story, but just stuff going on with a lot of characters singing various songs. While not as much fun as some of the Disney shorts of the era (in my opinion), this one was still enjoyable, and worth seeing every now and then.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Cavalcade Of San Francisco (1940)

(available as an extra on the San Francisco Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 55 seconds)

This is a short from MGM’s TravelTalk series narrated by James A. FitzPatrick, which focuses on the Californian city of San Francisco. We get a bit of a view of the city’s landmarks (from about 1940), as well as a few bits about its history. It ends with some scenes from a World’s Fair exposition showing the history of the American West. It’s an interesting short, especially to see San Francisco from that time period, but, without any personal connections to the city myself, I find this to be one that I will probably not be revisiting any time soon.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Night Descends On Treasure Island (1940)

(available as an extra on the San Francisco Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 8 minutes, 6 seconds)

Another short from the TravelTalk series, this one focuses on the Golden Gate International Exposition at night time. We see a lot of the lit-up fountains, and various light shows, along with a number of paintings from the Palace Of Fine And Decorative Arts. Supposedly a follow-up to another short in the series that was filmed during the daytime. It’s another interesting one that allows us a view into that part of history when the Exposition was there, before the lights and everything would be turned off (like the short itself keeps emphasizing).

And Now For The Main Feature…

Our story starts in the waning hours of 1905 in San Francisco. Blackie Norton (Clark Gable), the owner of the Paradise Cafe in the Barbary Coast, is celebrating the New Year when he sees firetrucks heading towards the Barbary Coast. He watches the firefighters put out the fire before heading back to his place. While he’s there, he meets singer Mary Blake (Jeanette MacDonald), who just lost her living quarters due to the fire. He takes a liking to her and offers her a two-year contract to sing at the Paradise. As a result of the fire, a group of citizens band together and ask Blackie to run for supervisor, in the hope that he will help improve many of the unsafe buildings in the area. With the support of his friend, Father Tim Mullin (Spencer Tracy), Blackie decides to run. His opponent, Jack Burley (Jack Holt), decides to pay him a visit and convince him to withdraw. He also brings along Señor Baldini (William Riccardi), the maestro at the Tivoli Opera House (which Burley owns). The two of them hear Mary singing, and try to convince her to come sing at the Tivoli. Although it’s her dream to sing there, she is stuck at the Paradise, since Blackie won’t let her out of her contract. However, Burley isn’t willing to give up, and keeps trying to make an offer. One night, Blackie, feeling confident she wouldn’t take up the offer, tells Burley that he will let her go, if she wants to. Without knowing this, she at first decides to stick with Blackie. However, when he throws a party to celebrate their “relationship,” she realizes she doesn’t mean that much to him, and leaves, taking him up on his offer to let her out of his contract. On opening night at the Tivoli, Blackie comes with a process server, intending to stop the show. However, he finds himself mesmerized by her singing, and decides to let the show go on. Afterwards, he goes to meet her backstage. Happy to see him again, Mary proposes marriage, and he accepts. However, when Burley comes backstage, Blackie makes his acceptance of her proposal depend upon her return to the Paradise Cafe. She decides to come back to the Paradise, but Father Tim objects to how Blackie is exploiting her in a revealing costume. Infuriated, Blackie punches his friend, and Mary decides to leave and go back to the Tivoli, which really angers Blackie. Even with this victory (and Mary accepting his proposal of marriage), Burley still insists on revoking Blackie’s liquor license and jailing his performers. Of course, this happens on the night of the Chickens Ball, a party where Blackie’s performers had been winning an entertainment competition in previous years (with a cash prize that Blackie sorely needed this time for his campaign fund). When Mary finds out what Burley did, she volunteers to go on for the Paradise, and wins easily. However, Blackie is furious with her and throws away the cash. Before anything else can happen, the city is hit with a very powerful earthquake, which makes a huge mess of things. Blackie manages to crawl out of the rubble, but Mary is nowhere to be seen. Can Blackie find her, or has the earthquake claimed the woman he loves?

While the posters proudly proclaimed that this movie was the first time that Clark Gable and Jeanette MacDonald shared the screen (and, to the best of my knowledge, would be the only time), the real team here was Gable and Spencer Tracy, in the first of three films they made together. Not only that, it helped Spencer Tracy’s career start to take off, after he had struggled at 20th Century Fox (who didn’t know what to do with him) and had signed with MGM. It ended up being the first of his nine nominations for the Best Actor Oscar. It was also a career changer for Jeanette MacDonald, who had mainly done some light operettas up to that point. Of course, the earthquake from the final twenty minutes or so is probably what this movie is best-known for, supposedly done by MGM’s special effects artist James Basevi (although Arnold Gillespie is given the credit).

Ah, Clark Gable. Where to begin? As best as I can tell, the film’s writers (Anita Loos and Robert Hopkins) based Clark’s character of Blackie Norton on real-life figure Wilson Mizner. Now, I know very little (if anything) about Wilson Mizner, but I do know that I like Clark Gable’s performance here. He does a great job portraying a character who, as Spencer Tracy’s Father Mullin puts it, is ashamed of his good deeds the way others would be ashamed of their bad deeds. Besides him giving the organ to his friend’s church, we also see it in his treatment of Jeanette MacDonald’s Mary, especially when she proposes to him, as he makes it clear it’s her idea, and then he later asks if they can postpone it until after the election, since he had long derided the institution of marriage. But, more than that, his character seems to have parallels to the city of San Francisco (at least, as it is portrayed in this movie). The city is described by some characters as being quite “wicked” and ungodly, as he is. We watch as things get worse for the city and him as everyone’s pride increases, until his rejection of goodness (when he turns down her help at the Ball), at which point the earthquake strikes. Then, we see the citizens of the city (and him) start to reform. However you look at it, his performance has certainly made the movie easy to watch!

Now, when I first saw this movie, I had had no prior experience with actress and singer Jeanette MacDonald (outside of whatever clips were used in the That’s Entertainment film series). I still enjoyed the movie then, with all the performances working quite well, and the religious elements of the story certainly appealed to me. Having seen some of her other films in the time since I first watched the movie, I can appreciate her performance even more here. Of course, her rendition of the title song by Bronislau Kaper and Walter Jurmann is quite memorable, as is her introduction of the Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed song “Would You” (later used in the classic Singin’ In The Rain). But, I find myself also enjoying hearing her sing several hymns near the end of the movie, including “Nearer My God To Thee” and “The Battle Hymn Of The Republic.” All in all, whether it’s for Clark, Jeanette, Spencer, the earthquake sequence (which was done quite well, in my opinion), or any of a number of other reasons, this is a movie I enjoy watching every now and then! Certainly one you’ll find me having no hesitation about recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. The original camera negative was lost in the infamous MGM fire, so they were working from a combination of a nitrate fine grain second generation film elements (that were dubbed in French) and some more domestic elements. The results are fantastic (but, of course, this is WAC, so that’s nothing new). For those that don’t know, this movie has had two different endings. The film’s original ending had a montage of footage from then-modern day San Francisco (which included a shot of the Golden Gate Bridge, then under construction), and a 1948 re-issue removed that, showing instead a freeze frame of then-current San Francisco. The DVD had the ending from the 1948 re-issue (and the original as an extra), whereas the new Blu-ray has the original 1936 ending restored to the movie (and the other included as a silent extra). Overall, I’m thrilled with this release, and would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending it!

Film Length: 1 hour, 55 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #2 in Top 10 Disc Releases Of 2021

**ranked #9 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2021

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Mutiny On The Bounty (1935)Clark GableMogambo (1953)

Rose-Marie (1936)Jeanette MacDonaldMaytime (1937)

Spencer Tracy – Libeled Lady (1936)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

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)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Maytime (1937)

Let’s celebrate the month of May by digging into the Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy musical Maytime.

Jeanette MacDonald plays Marcia Mornay, a rising opera star under the tutelage of Nicolai Nazaroff (John Barrymore). When she is presented to the court of emperor Louis Napoleon, Nicolai convinces an important composer to write an opera for her. Later, Nicolai proposes to her, and she accepts out of gratitude. In her excitement, she is unable to sleep and takes a carriage ride. She stops at a tavern when the horse runs away, and she meets Paul Allison (Nelson Eddy), who is instantly smitten with her. She resists, but she still meets him a few more times. Even though she likes Paul, she decides to stay with Nicolai and breaks things off with Paul. However, they meet again a few years later when Nicolai brings her to New York to do an opera there.

Originally, Maytime opened as a Broadway show on August 16, 1917, with music by Sigmund Romberg, and the book and lyrics provided by Rida Johnson Young. It would prove to be quite popular, with a second production running alongside the first, and it would be the second-longest running show of the decade. In 1923, it was made into a silent movie, keeping the story (sadly, this film no longer exists in its entirety, although four out of its seven reels have survived and been restored). It would come back again for the 1937 film, this time being planned as the third film for the then-hot screen team of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. This time, however, they would drop the story (although I get the impression that they kept a few elements of the original story) and most of the score as well, with the exception of the song “Will You Remember,” as they tried to play to the strengths of the two stars.

Of the eight movies starring MacDonald and Eddy, this ended up being the third one I saw, following Rose-Marie and Naughty Marietta (hmm… 2, 1, 3? Sounds like I might have seen the Dudley Do-Right movie too much growing up 😉 ). Anyways, I had no idea going into this one what it would be like. I had some familiarity with the other two, as I had heard some of the music before, and seen a few clips included in the That’s Entertainment films. This one, not so much. The closest I could claim was the song “Will You Remember” being included in the musical biopic on composer Sigmund Romberg, Deep In My Heart, which I didn’t care for after my first viewing (but that’s a story for another time).  With Rose-Marie setting the bar quite high for the series, I found myself feeling disappointed with this movie for the first hour.  Then I got to the May Day section, which included the song “Will You Remember,” and my opinion changed completely. That was the only song retained from the original score, and it was the only one that needed to be. I really enjoyed the song, which so strongly evokes the feeling of spring for me now, and the rest of the movie after that. Especially the finale, which was so wonderful, it gives me chills every time I watch it (but make sure you have a good supply of Kleenex)! And with repeat viewings, this movie just gets better and better! Is it perfect? No, I will admit, it does have some problems with sexism, although how much of that is inherent to the period the movie is set in, I’m not sure. But this is still a wonderful movie, and one I highly recommend!

This movie is available on DVD either individually or as part of the four film Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy Collection: Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 2 hours, 11 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #8 In Top 10 Movies Watched In 2019

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

San Francisco (1936)Jeanette MacDonaldThe Girl Of The Golden West (1938)

Rose-Marie (1936)Nelson EddyThe Girl Of The Golden West (1938)

Dinner At Eight (1933) – John Barrymore – Spawn Of The North (1938)

Rose-Marie (1936) – Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy (screen team) – The Girl Of The Golden West (1938)

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Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2019) on… Rose-Marie (1936)

And now we’re here for the 1936 version of Rose-Marie, starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy.

In this movie, Jeanette MacDonald plays Rose-Marie de Flor, an operatic diva (emphasis on “diva”). When she hears that her brother, John Flower (James Stewart), has broken out of prison and killed a mountie, she decides to come to him in the wilderness. On the way, she runs into Sergeant Bruce (Nelson Eddy), the mountie who has been tasked with finding her brother. Bruce quickly figures out that she is the famous opera diva, but, due to Rose-Marie’s relationship to her brother being kept secret, he doesn’t realize her main reason for being there. After she leaves with her guide, he puts two and two together, and follows her. She loses her guide and is stuck with Bruce (who doesn’t admit that he knows, instead admitting to going a different direction). Of course, on the trip there, they both fall for each other, which makes Bruce’s job that much harder.

What can I say? This is a wonderful movie! This is the second film version of a 1924 stage operetta, following a (now believed to be lost) 1928 silent film and later followed by the 1954 version starring Howard Keel, Ann Blyth and Fernando Lamas. In spite of the fact that this version deviates the most from the play as far as the story is concerned, this is the best-known version. This film does make use of some of the music from the stage operetta to wonderful effect. We have songs such as “The Mounties,” sung by Nelson Eddy and the title tune “Rose-Marie,” sung by Nelson Eddy as a serenade for Jeanette MacDonald’s character (which works until he starts to sing it again and accidentally substitutes another lady’s name for Rose-Marie’s, revealing that he’s used the song before). But the best song would have to be “Indian Love Call” (although, if you don’t like the song, it’s very hard to enjoy the last half hour of the movie, as it’s sung about four times within that time frame). But it is such a wonderful song, and I personally have never heard it sung better than either Jeanette MacDonald or Nelson Eddy.

Speaking of the film’s two stars, this is the second of eight movies that they were paired together for. This ended up being the first of their movies together that I saw (I had previously seen maybe one film each for their solo outings). Any knowledge of these films I possessed previously was from clips of some of their movies being included in the That’s Entertainment trilogy, and, as I have never been terribly fond of opera, I was reluctant to try them out. Then I saw the 1954 film with Howard Keel (whom I did like), enjoyed it and wanted to try this one. I was blown away by how much I liked this one, and it became easy for me to try to seek the others out. I still don’t really care for opera, but I am willing to put up with it for these movies. And this movie in particular has always felt like a lesson in great chemistry, because the movie relies quite heavily on just these two for the vast majority of the film. And it works! And we also have James Stewart in an early (and brief) role as the escaped convict brother, which apparently helped to get him noticed (and a few bigger roles, too) after having only done small bit parts. So, yes, I very much recommend this one!!

This movie is available on DVD either individually or as part of the four film Jeanette MacDonald & Nelson Eddy Collection: Volume 1 from Warner Archive Collection.

“When I’m calling you-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo…”

Film Length: 1 hour, 51 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #7 in Top 10 Movies Watched In 2019

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Naughty Marietta (1935)Jeanette MacDonaldSan Francisco (1936)

Naughty Marietta (1935)Nelson EddyMaytime (1937)

The Good Fairy (1935) – Reginald Owen – A Christmas Carol (1938)

James Stewart – Born To Dance (1936)

Allan Jones – Show Boat (1936)

In Person (1935) – Alan Mowbray – My Man Godfrey (1936)

Naughty Marietta (1935) – Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy (screen team) – Maytime (1937)

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