The small kingdom of Marshovia has a little problem. The main tax-payer, the wealthy widow Sonia (who pays 52 0f the taxes) has left for Paris So Count Danilo is sent to Paris, to stop her ... See full summary »
Edward Everett Horton
Maggie, a headlining comedienne with the Follies, takes a fall off the stage into the orchestra pit and lands on the drum of musician Al Cassidy. One thing leads to another, they fall in ... See full summary »
The three are showgirls, each with a different approach to life and love. Sally wants wealth and gets it finally in Marcus. Mary plots and schemes but winds up with salt-of-the-earth Jimmy.... See full summary »
Thyra arrives in Chekia to wed its old and ugly king. The Duke falls in love with her. A revolution erupts and the king is assassinated. Chief revolutionary Gigberto also falls in love with... See full summary »
Prince Danilo falls in love with dancer Sally O'Hara. His uncle, King Nikita I of Monteblanco forbids the marriage because she is a commoner. Thinking she has been jilted by her prince, Sally marries old, lecherous Baron Sadoja, whose wealth has kept the kingdom afloat. When he dies suddenly, Sally must be wooed all over again by Danilo. Written by
Joan Crawford and Clark Gable both appear as extras in this film. According to author William J. Mann, in his book "Behind the Screen: How Gays and Lesbians Shaped Hollywood 1910-1969", future costume designers Irene and Walter Plunkett also appear as dance partners. See more »
A title card reads "a prince has a duty to his country higher then [sic] his duty to himself," a grammatical error unusual for such a prestigious studio as MGM. See more »
A romantic Prince from tiny Monteblanco attempts to woo THE MERRY WIDOW who once loved him when she was a poor dancer.
Erich von Stroheim, the Teutonic genius who marched through Hollywood's Silent Days like a conquering general, had his final directorial stint at MGM Studios producing this lavish & brilliant film based on the operetta by Franz Lehár. The visuals are striking, with sets that look like actual locations--a mountaintop village; the Castellano Cathedral; Maxim's in Paris--and the occasional bizarre touch--the blindfolded musicians sharing the Prince's seduction bed, for example--which von Stroheim relished. The acting is flawless, with no need for dialogue. The actors' faces speak all that need be said.
Mae Murray & John Gilbert portray the passionate lovers whom Fate (and the plot) contrives to keep apart so successfully. Miss Murray (she and the director loathed each other) powerfully portrays a street-wise performer who, through a series of heartbreaks, becomes a vastly wealthy woman. Gilbert expertly plays a prince whose charm has always gotten him his way. Their scenes together, most particularly the waltz sequences, fairly blaze with unrequited sensual longing and desire.
While it is entertaining to wonder what von Stroheim would have done with the role, it is difficult to imagine anyone better than Roy D'Arcy as the simpering, lusting, sneering Crown Prince; he is pure villainy personified and his eventual fate is absolutely justified. Josephine Crowell gives a fine performance as the Queen. Tully Marshall, one of von Stroheim's favorite character actors, adds another portrait to his gallery of grotesques, this time playing a crippled baron with a foot fetish.
The wonderful organ score which accompanies the film was arranged & performed by Dennis James.
MGM would tackle THE MERRY WIDOW again nine years later and produce a vastly different film, this time directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Maurice Chevalier & Jeanette MacDonald.
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