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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 »
"The Night Is Young" was the last film Ramon Novarro made as an MGM player, and ended his decade plus run as a Hollywood movie star. It's moderately successful, but apparently couldn't (at the time) make up for its disastrous predecessor "Laughing Boy" (1934), which failed to attract much money in either foreign or domestic markets. So, MGM and Mr. Novarro agreed to a mutual parting of their ways. There are some who believe Navarro was assisted in his declining popularity, due to his sexual preference.
But, in hindsight, "The Night Is Young" looks more like the studio tried to rescue Novarro, after his first across-the-board flop. The production values are high, with many accomplished names appearing in the cast and crew. Novarro looks fit again, arresting a growing chubbiness (unfortunately, his character claims to be twenty-five). MGM took a chance with director Dudley Murphy and leading lady Evelyn Lave, however; if either one or the other were a stronger choice, the film might have worked.
Most faulty is the story, which had half of its plot removed. Writer Vicki Baum (of "Grand Hotel" fame) originally wrote that Novarro's Prince picked his Ballerina to test his ability to procreate, before an arranged marriage (herein, to Rosalind Russell). Of course, the Prince falls in love with the Ballerina. Due to the adoption of the Hays Production Code, in 1934, the "sanctity of marriage" clause forbid what was to have originally occurred. See "The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg" (1927) for the real story.
The soundtrack, by Sigmund Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II, begot a big ten-inch #1 hit for Kenny Sargent with Glen Gray's orchestra as "When I Grow Too Old to Dream" / "The Night Is Young" spent nearly half of 1935 on hit parades. Novarro declined an immediate return to MGM as "Ricardo" in The Marx Brothers' "A Night at the Opera" (which would have charmed many), and returned as the star of Republic's "The Sheik Steps Out" (1937). As usual, it was an unimaginative role choice.
***** The Night Is Young (1/11/35) Dudley Murphy ~ Ramon Novarro, Evelyn Laye, Charles Butterworth, Una Merkel
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