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The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)

Passed | | Comedy, Romance, Musical | 1 August 1931 (USA)
An amorous lieutenant is forced to marry a socially awkward princess, though he tries to keep his violin-playing girlfriend on the side.

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(operetta), (operetta) (as Felix Dörmann) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Franzi
...
Princess Anna
...
Max (as Charlie Ruggles)
George Barbier ...
King Adolf XV
Hugh O'Connell ...
Niki's Orderly
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Storyline

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 <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

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Release Date:

1 August 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El teniente seductor  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(cut) | (original)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Long considered lost until a print was discovered in Denmark in the 1990s. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Lieutenant Niki: As a gentleman I say: "Thank you!"; as a Viennese I say: "Moo!"
See more »

Connections

Featured in Complicated Women (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Toujours l'Amour in the Army
(1931)
Music by Oscar Straus
Lyrics by Clifford Grey
Sung by Maurice Chevalier twice
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An Intercepted Wink
20 August 2009 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

It must have been that the movie-going public loved seeing Maurice Chevalier in those tight uniforms, he seemed to be in them in most of those early talkies he made for American studios. Only now and again would Chevalier play something as prosaic as a tailor.

He's a guardsman again in The Smiling Lieutenant. But with the Austrian Empire at peace all the men have a lot of idle time on their hands. Maurice is busy planning his latest campaign when a friend played by Charlie Ruggles asks him with that Chevalier charm to intercede for him with a female violinist in Claudette Colbert.

Maurice does, but the sly rogue gets her for himself. And then he's put on duty to greet the visiting royal house of Flausenthurm which includes King George Barbier and Princess Miriam Hopkins.

In one of those priceless Ernst Lubitsch moments, Chevalier while at attention spots Colbert across the street and throws a few knowing smiles and winks. But when the coach carrying Barbier and Hopkins passes, Hopkins intercepts one of those winks and considers it an uncalled for act upon a royal personage.

In fact she likes what she sees and persuades Daddy to get the Emperor who's her uncle to part with Chevalier. Of course Maurice the old campaigner likes the idea of being married to the dowdy Hopkins if he's got Claudette on the side.

I won't go any farther, but as you can see just by what I tell you The Smiling Lieutenant is a film made before the Code was put in place. In fact the naughtiness of films like these is what got Hollywood the Code. But it's what also makes it hold up very well for today's audience.

No big song hits come from The Smiling Lieutenant, but Chevalier delivers what's there with his Gallic charm. Even Hopkins and Colbert grab a chorus or two with Maurice. Music is by Oscar Straus with English lyrics by Clifford Grey.

This is before the Code so you have some freedom as to how this film will end, the parameters the Code put in place are no longer there. I should say however that Miriam Hopkins gets a makeover that Paul Venoit and his team would envy.


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