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Austrian Emperor Franz Josef has arranged a marriage for his nephew, the Archduke Paul Gustave - nicknamed Gustl - to the suitable Princess Matilda, a woman Gustl can't even remember. He is instead in love with the Hungarian Countess Zarika Rafay, which Gustl can't tell his uncle since he disapproves of her family. The Emperor will allow Gustl to sow his wild oats before getting married, but that woman needs to be someone "harmless" outside of the royal circle. Since they discuss this situation while at the ballet, Gustl instead tells the Emperor that he is in love with one of the ballerinas, and the one he has chosen somewhat at random is the always distracted Lisl Gluck, who is considered the worst dancer in the company since she is always staring at the man she intends to marry, the ballet company's piano accompanist Toni Berngruber. When Gustl summons Lisl, she is relieved to learn his true intentions - that she is just a front while he cavorts secretly with the Countess (although... Written by
The following actors are listed in studio records as appearing in this film, but were not seen in the print: Josef Swickard as the doctor, Billy Gilbert and Cecilia Parker. 'Stuart Erwin (I)' was listed as an actor in a Hollywood Reporter production chart, but he was not seen in the film either. See more »
(Austrian National Anthem 1795-1918)
Music by Joseph Haydn
Played when the emperor enters the opera house
Reprised when the emperor greets his people from the balcony See more »
Life truly does imitate art as this pretend story about the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire was to find a real life counterpart in the United Kingdom a year after The Night Is Young was released. One wonders if Edward VIII and Mrs. Simpson saw this film before plunging their empire into a potentially chaotic situation.
Henry Stephenson playing a most regal Emperor Franz Josef tells his playboy nephew to get those wild oats sowed because he's got to settle down, marry a suitable princess and begat some Hapsburg heirs. Nephew Ramon Novarro has someone in mind he wants to marry, the Emperor wants him to marry Rosalind Russell who is of high rank enough to satisfy royalty requirements.
To throw the Emperor off the scent Novarro says he's been having a fling with dancer Evelyn Laye while both are attending the ballet. Then having to make good on it, he hires Evelyn to play his mistress so he can sow his real oats elsewhere.
I think you can see where all this is going. The Night Is Young is a combination of Novarro's own silent role from The Student Prince and The Merry Widow which MGM did the year before. In fact such cast members as Edward Everett Horton and Herman Bing are in this one as well.
Sigmund Romberg wrote the music with Oscar Hammerstein, II supplying the lyrics and libretto. The film was a flop at the time, but one of Romberg's songs When I Grow Too Old To Dream became one of his most beloved classics.
As we also know the film also is similar in some ways to the real life Hapsburg tragedy at Mayerling. I'm surprised no one ever thought of casting Novarro as Prince Rudolf, he has the proper delicacy in his screen persona to carry that part off, especially on the silent screen.
The Night Is Young is typical Viennese frou-frou which was passing out of public taste at the time. Seen today it's not the best of Sigmund Romberg operettas, but not so terribly bad as people thought back in the day.
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