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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
Because the action of the movie is so completely wedded to the music, the script was mimeographed on special music paper, with the action and dialogue printed between the staves and timed to each measure. See more »
Ramon Novarro (in his last MGM movie) stars as a prince who falls in love with someone beneath his station--the lovely Lisl (Evelyn Laye). Meanwhile he's being forced into marriage with a horrid woman (Rosalind Russell!!!). What will he do?
Lavish musical comedy romance shot in beautiful black and white. By the time this was made, Novarro knew his career at MGM was over. He was a gay man who refused to marry so MGM did not renew his contract when it expired. What's surprising is they went all out to give and gave him a really great film as a sendoff.
The budget was obviously huge--some of the sets are really impressive. The script is very good with some truly beautiful songs interwoven (I loved it when people just slipped from talking to singing). The whole cast is good-there's not one bad performance. Evelyn Laye is beautiful and has a wonderful voice--one hell of an actress too. Edward Everett Horton as a prissy palace official is quite funny--just his facial looks had me chuckling. And a very young Rosalind Russell is interesting. Best of all is Novarro--Incredibly handsome with a beautiful smile and voice and also a very good actor. It's really a shame that homophobia ruined his career.
The picture has a very romantic feel to it and Laye and Novarro had some serious sexual chemistry between them. I'm only giving this an 8 because of the ending. It's realistic but I didn't like it--it threw the whole film off kilter. Still, this is a real treat worth seeing.
This was a HUGE box office bomb when it came out and has disappeared over the years (even Leonard Maltin doesn't have it in his book). Now that TCM is showing it let's hope it gets the recognition it deserves.
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