Minutes before her wedding to Duke Otto Von Seibenheim, Countess Helene Mara flees, on a whim, to Monte Carlo, where she hopes her luck will save her poor financial state. There, Count ...
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Minutes before her wedding to Duke Otto Von Seibenheim, Countess Helene Mara flees, on a whim, to Monte Carlo, where she hopes her luck will save her poor financial state. There, Count Rudolph Farriere is taken by her beauty, but she rebuffs him, not even looking at him. Assuming the guise of a hairdresser, he finally succeeds in seeing her, night and morning. Sparks fly, and love ensues - but can she love a lowly hairdresser? As her finances worsen though, the Duke arrives, and his money and social status seem even more enticing. Shunning Rudolph, will her story follow the operatic "unhappy ending", or can she have it all? Written by
Loosely based on the Booth Tarkington novel (1900) that was also source for the Rudolph Valentino drama Monsieur Beaucaire (1924) and the Bob Hope comedy Monsieur Beaucaire (1946). And there really is an English operetta (1918) based on the book, composed by André Messager, later adapted to French. It looks like recordings are only available for the French version. As of this writing (2017), both movies are available on DVD, but Valentino's looks like it's in public domain. See more »
Jeanette MacDonald is referred to as a blonde early on in the dialogue. She was actually a redhead, and no attempt was made to lighten her hair to make her look blonde. Her hair photographed the dark grey red hair usually reproduced as on the black-and-white film used in 1930. See more »
Certainly when you look at this film as a 1930 musical, the way that songs are integrated into the plot is a marvel, and it has a fluidity that belies the year it was made. That said, this is rather a chore to sit through, compared to the likes of The Smiling Lieutenant and One Hour With You, and despite the appeal of MacDonald in her early, earthy days, before she became partner to the eunuch Nelson Eddy.
There are three main culprits: first, a plot which just doesn't compare to the comedy-dramas of sexual tension and yearning that Lubitsch's best films offer. The others are fantasies, but this is flat out unbelievable, with too many mistaken identities, arbitrary shifts in attitude by the leading lady, and a lack of tension (since all of MacDonald's romantic choices are stinking rich). It's just impossible to care about. The second is leading man Jack Buchanan. It's not just that you can imagine Maurice Chevalier getting something innocently naughty out of the lines which might actually be charming, but as lightweight as he is, Buchanan seems too smart to believe what a doof-slash-stalker he's playing. Imagine Fred Astaire being replaced in Top Hat by Herbert Marshall, or maybe Paul Muni. And finally... at best the songs are unmemorable ditties cleverly staged. One, however, "Trimmin' the Women," could make the short list of worst movie numbers of the golden age of Hollywood. In short, be glad that Paramount compelled MacDonald and Chevalier (who she apparently disliked) to get back together in time for Love Me Tonight.
NOTE: Since viewing the film I have learned that the reels are misnumbered on nearly all surviving prints-- a fact which explains the otherwise baffling scene in the movie where Buchanan, who has already met MacDonald (IF you've seen it out of order), goes to work for her and she has no idea who he is. I'm not saying the movie would be radically better if it was in the correct order, but it would undoubtedly make somewhat more sense.
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