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Joe E. Brown,
William Collier Jr.
This sentimental Romberg-Hammerstein operetta was made late in the first cycle of movie musicals, and the glut of product at the time crowded it out at the box office. Which is too bad, because it's excellent of its kind -- well-crafted, well-cast, and in handsome two-tone Technicolor.
The authors steal from all over the place: The two-generation love affairs (one happy, one unhappy) recall Romberg's own "Maytime," and the poor musician and wealthy officer fighting for the fraulein are right out of "Bitter Sweet." But the story matters less than the songs ("You Will Remember Vienna," "I Bring a Love Song," etc.) and the authors' sincerity. It's an unusually full score for a movie musical, with comic numbers, ensembles, and even a show-within-a-show -- one senses that Hammerstein and Romberg wanted their screen work to be as good as their stage work.
Vivienne Segal, a prized stage comedienne/soprano, doesn't really get to demonstrate the dry wit and winking innuendo that made her a theater favorite, but she's sweet and direct (at times, she looks like Bette Midler!). Her leading man -- Alexander Gray, also from the stage -- is stiff in the Nelson Eddy mode, but like Eddy, he gives his all when he sings.
There's a minimum of the coy twittering associated (not quite fairly) with operetta, and an affecting story at the center, of two lovers who never stop loving, even as they marry other partners, disastrously. Surprisingly adult stuff for its time, and in the end, very touching.
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