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Fred M. Wilcox
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W.S. Van Dyke
Princess Marie de Namours de la Bonfain is a beautiful, young, sophisticated French princess of 23, who finds more worth in true love than a title. On the eve of her arranged marriage, to a Spanish-grandee, whom she doesn't love, her maid, Marietta comes to her to say farewell. Marietta is to leave that night on a cargo ship bound for New Orleans where she is to make a new life and find a husband. Princess Marie trades places with Marietta to escape her unwanted marriage and takes on the maid, Marietta's identity. While sailing, the cargo ship is taken hostage by pirates, but, Captain Richard Warrington and his mercenaries soon come to the rescue. Captain Warrington is quickly taken by the beautiful princess aka Marietta and she with him. But, he has no interest in marriage and she's afraid she might be recognized. Meanwhile in France, a search and reward is out for Princess Marie's whereabouts. Princess Marie's Uncle and fiancée soon discover that she is in New Orleans and sail for ... Written by
Although his name is never mentioned on screen, the pirate leader is called Bras Pique, and he is killed in the scene where the Captain's men attack the pirates. In the original operetta, his alter ego is the Lieutenant Governor's effeminate son, Etienne Grandet. See more »
The Princess is shown with a small terrier in her arms, which would have been impossible at that time. The dogs in Europe in the 1800s were large dogs like mastiffs or German Shepherds. Small dogs did not come into Europe until the age of Queen Victoria, when they were brought by sailors from Asia. See more »
Naughty Marietta marked the first teaming of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy and what a success it was. MacDonald had broken into films with Paramount pictures which made her a star. She moved to MGM the previous year and had done a fourth film with Maurice Chevalier which was well received. But she and Chevalier did not get along and she wanted no more films with him. She did one with Ramon Novarro and there was no great demand for that team.
Louis B. Mayer decided to team her with operatic baritone Nelson Eddy. Eddy had been signed by MGM and had done what we would now call cameo parts in three films. He even gave Eddy co-star billing in this first featured role.
The results were a box office smash. Jeanette and Nelson looked great on the screen and sang even better. Seven more films followed that paired them. Even today they still have a loyal fan base.
Naughty Marietta had its debut on Broadway in 1910 with music by Victor Herbert and book and lyrics by Rida Johnson Young. It was one of Herbert's biggest hits and the songs are still popular today. Back then the melody was king and what melodies they were.
Of course the book has to be taken with a grain of salt and allowances for the mores of the times. The operetta is set in the New Orleans of Louis XV. One of his royal wards has been promised to wed a Spanish nobleman and she wants none of it. The royal lady exchanges places with her maid who is going to New Orleans as a promised bride for one of the French colonists.
When they're almost there, the ship is attacked by pirates and the promised brides among them Jeanette MacDonald are taken ashore. But they are rescued by an intrepid band of frontiersman led by Nelson Eddy who sing even better than they fight. They're mercenaries in the service of the Territorial Governor of Louisiana.
As Jeanette put it in the beginning of the film, she wants to marry for love and she couldn't love any of those powderpuff courtiers that inhabit Versailles.
Watching my VHS of Naughty Marietta today it was interesting to see a portrayal of New Orleans society in 1765 and then seeing New Orleans try to dry out from another hurricane. New Orleans was and is one valuable piece of real estate on this continent, located at the mouth of the Mississippi-Missouri-Ohio river systems. It changed hands until many times until the Louisiana Purchase got it for the USA.
Nelson and Jeanette have a rough go of it as they always do in their films. But a few songs and love conquers all.
Being this was their first film, Jeanette and Nelson got to sing their first duet which was Ah Sweet Mystery of Life. A really fabulous melody and lyric from a golden age of song writing. One of the great love songs ever written. Naughty Marietta should be seen for that alone.
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