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Maurice Courtelin, a Parisian tailor (Maurice Chevalier), is owed a great sum of money by a viscount (Charles Ruggles). Stalling for time, the titled but penniless nobleman moves Maurice into the family chateau and passes him off as a baron. The beguiling Maurice soon charms the entire aristocratic household, except for the haughty Princess Jeanette (Jeanette MacDonald), who remains suspicious of him. But suspicion eventually gives way to love. Written by
Dan Navarro <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Among scenes and dialogue commonly deleted by local censors were references to the "virgin spring"; the scene of the Princess's examination by the physician; and Maurice taking measurements of the princess. In 1937, letters from Joseph I. Breen of the AMPP to Paramount indicate that Breen advised against the re-issue of the film because he felt that the severe editing required to pass the censors would ruin the film. In a 1949 letter, Breen approved a re-release with the following deletions: Any reference to "virgin springs"; the song "A Woman Needs Something Like That"; and the scene of Myrna Loy in a "transparent nightgown." According to a memo in the file, the four-reel re-release was unsuccessful See more »
The lighting on Jeanette during the balcony scene. See more »
I've always found Maurice and Jeannette to be acquired tastes but they really shine here. The "Iron Butterfly" had a high soprano with an exaggerated pronunciation but she shows herself to be a gifted comedienne in this film and so one forgives her that. The opening scene is justly famous with its use of natural street sounds shading off into music and the camera work is highly fluid, especially for 1932.
Is it the greatest movie musical of all time? It may well be and that would even include "Singing in the Rain" but I wouldn't want to make a choice and I don't think anyone has to.
Rodgers and Hart were at their peak here though they did equally fine things later on. But certainly "Isn't it Romantic", "Mimi" (though more of a specialty for Maurice), and "Lover" are standards in anyone's book. The story, though typically silly, is treated in such a way that it is elevated to at least a serviceable level.
The "Western Electric Noiseless Recording" process is just that though one would hardly confuse it with modern Dolby stereo.
The supporting cast is equally excellent including the Charleses Ruggles and Butterworth as well as Myrna Loy who had a much solider screen persona later on (Thin Man series and "Best Years of Our Lives") though she's fine here as a man-chaser.
Many of the original innuendos remain intact but others were censored later for rerelease and they were lost. But screenplay excerpts of these are given on the video.
The Kino DVD is well done but since the library copy I saw was a little damaged, I was not able to watch all of the comments by Miles Kreuger, an associate of Reuben Mamoulian's in later years.
10 out of 10.
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