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The small kingdom of Marshovia has a little problem. The main tax-payer, the wealthy widow Sonia (who pays 52 0f the taxes) has left for Paris So Count Danilo is sent to Paris, to stop her from getting married by a stranger, so that the danger of removing the money is banned. But this is not that easy as the ambassador in Paris has planned. Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <email@example.com>
With the financial failure of the film, Maurice Chevalier did not move on to better, more ambitious roles at MGM. The only parts Irving Thalberg offered him were more Gallic charmers, first in The Chocolate Soldier (1941), then in Her Cardboard Lover (1942). The former would have finally paired him with Grace Moore, who had moved to Columbia Pictures and scored a hit in One Night of Love (1934), but Chevalier wanted to return to France. When Thalberg informed him that in order to borrow Moore from Columbia he had had to promise her top billing, a clear violation of Chevalier's contract, the French star claimed breach of contract and left. After only one more film in the U.S. (Folies Bergère de Paris (1935)), he returned to France until after World War II. See more »
Now tell me, if you weren't married... if you weren't my wife, could you fall for Gabrielovitsch?
If I weren't married... if I had it to do over again, and had the choice between you and Gabrielovitsch? Frankly, I'd take you.
[King Achmet laughs contentedly]
That shows you what I think of Gabrielovitsch.
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The great Ernst Lubitsch clearly understood the material in which "The Merry Widow" was based. Being European himself, he clearly identified with this delightful Franz Lehar operetta that had been charming audiences throughout the years. Mr. Lubitsch places the action in the small country of Marshovia, in central Europe. The director had an eye for the great spectacle he presents for us. Mr. Lubitsch greatest achievement is that he seems to have his camera waltzing all the time. The result is an amazing triumph for MGM.
In fact, the glorious sets one admires in the film are breathtaking. For a film made in 1934, the art directors, Cedric Gibbons and Gabriel Scognamillo recreate the royal palace of Marshovia in amazing detail, as well as the Paris scenes with an elegance and good taste that shows the resources of the studio that didn't spare anything. The black and white cinematography of Oliver Marsh enhances the Lubitsch style. Adrian's gowns look luxurious and the editing of the film by Francis Marsh give the film continuity without ever making the action appear forced or staged.
The pairing of Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald was an match that seems to have been made in haven. Both actors are a delight to see. Mr. Chevalier with his French accent and mannerisms make his Count Danilo the charmer he is. The beautiful Ms. MacDonald is mysterious at first, when we meet her, then as she has fallen in love, changes her attitude and realizes Danilo is the man for her.
The secondary roles are played with great panache by the genial Edward Everett Horton, who as the ambassador to Paris, is under orders to have Sonia, the wealthy woman, accept Danilo and return to Marshovia with all her money. George Barber plays the King Achmed and the incomparable Una Merkel is seen as Queen Dolores.
The Merry Widow waltz received a great production number in which about a hundred couples are seen dancing around Sonia and Danilo, first in white tuxedos and gowns and later in black ones. Later all the couples are mixed together creating such a rich moment. By today's standards that sequence couldn't have been done, or it must have cost a fortune, or perhaps would have digitally mastered in order not to pay dancers to appear dancing in the movie.
Let's just be thankful there was a man with a vision, Ernst Lubitsch, and let's be grateful for his vision and his legacy.
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