Lieutenant Niki of the Austrian royal guard has a new girlfriend, Franzi. He's crazy about her and is smiling at her while on duty in the street. King Adolf and his daughter Princess Anna ...
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Edward Everett Horton
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Lieutenant Niki of the Austrian royal guard has a new girlfriend, Franzi. He's crazy about her and is smiling at her while on duty in the street. King Adolf and his daughter Princess Anna from the neighboring kingdom of Flausenthurm drive by, and Anna intercepts a wink meant for Franzi. She falls for Niki, marries him (he has no choice in the matter), and whisks him off to Flausenthurm. Franzi follows and enjoys a brief affair with Niki before Anna finds out. Franzi, much more experienced in the ways of the world, gives Anna lessons on how to win the affections of her husband. Written by
John Oswalt <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The delightful rhythmic underscoring of the film which comments ironically on the mood of the characters may be the first work of the great orchestrator, Conrad Salinger, whose magnificent symphonic arrangements set the style of the MGM musicals of the 1940s and 50s. Salinger was a pupil of Delius. See more »
In the latter part of the movie Chevalier bounds up a grand staircase painted to appear as marble but the loud clomp-clomp-clomp of his shoes reveals it to be just wood. See more »
"The Lubitsch touch" was all the rage at the start of Hollywood's Talkie era, which is why musical trifles such as this one or the preceding THE LOVE PARADE (1929) skilfully made and pleasantly risqué though they might be ended up being major Academy Award contenders for a spell. In fact, the film under review got its sole Oscar nod for Best Picture an achievement which would become virtually impossible in a decade's time. Popular Continental crooner Maurice Chevalier plays his typical role of a Viennese roué who steals the girl (an almost unrecognizably young Claudette Colbert appearing as a concert violinist) of his comrade-in-arms (Charles Ruggles, who unaccountably disappears from the film after the first few scenes!); standing guard at the ceremony of visiting royalty, he creates a diplomatic scandal for seemingly winking at the naïve princess (Miriam Hopkins) when in fact he had been making eyes at Colbert who was watching the parade from the sidelines! To make amends, he is forced to marry Hopkins but he is not about to be tied down to a life of luxurious boredom and slips out in the commoner's uniform of straw hat and tuxedo for a night on the town every chance he gets; in the meantime, the flustered King comforts his lonesome daughter by playing chess in her boudoir! Colbert and her bandmates give a recital in Chevalier's kingdom and she finds herself invited to the Palace but it's Hopkins who summoned her to seek advice on how to ignite Chevalier's passion! Curiously enough, Chevalier had been unusually loyal to Colbert instead of his usual roving self and it is only on the latter's advice (and her involvement in Hopkins' jazzy makeover) that he finally abides willingly to his marital duties. As is customary for Lubitsch, what is left unsaid is about as important as what is spelled out and THE SMILING LIEUTENANT provides the director several instances wherein to indulge his subtle wit: the very opening sequence showing a tailor, who had called at Chevalier's to demand payment, leaving when the door is unanswered while a girl is ushered inside soon afterwards by the accomplice-butler; the sequence showing Ruggles trailing behind Chevalier and Colbert and carrying her violin case; Colbert's indoctrination of the stuffy Hopkins into what the modern woman wears and which music she plays, etc.
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