Gypsy Melody is a 1936 British musical comedy film directed by Edmond T. Gréville and starring Lupe Velez, Alfred Rode and Jerry Verno. It was made at Elstree Studios. The sets were ...
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Edmond T. Gréville
Gypsy Melody is a 1936 British musical comedy film directed by Edmond T. Gréville and starring Lupe Velez, Alfred Rode and Jerry Verno. It was made at Elstree Studios. The sets were designed by art director John Mead. The film was a remake of the 1935 French film Juanita.
The plot of this film is so joyously inconsequential that one gets the impression someone decided that it simply couldn't be made with a straight face; at any rate, the resulting picture, ostensibly constructed to star Alfred Rode and his 'Tzigane Orchestra', emerges as an enjoyable send-up of the Ruritanian genre, the showbiz success musical, and just about every ethnic stereotype it touches, from the pompous Grand Duchess via the Teutonic beergarden and the hustling American impresario to the monocled English upper class. Characters are transferred from one scene to the next by cheerfully arbitrary plot developments that have clearly been shot for laughs; perhaps my favourite moment is the one early on in the film where the prisoners need to escape from their jail cell, after having been locked up with enormous and prolonged ceremony by the guard... so the door simply creaks open of its own accord!
Saddled with a leading man whose English and acting qualifications were both clearly limited, the script wisely transfers most of the speaking roles to Jerry Verno and Fred Duprez, respectively English and American comedians, who play up admirably. Meanwhile Lupe Velez provides exotic appeal and the requisite 'spitfire' and bathing scenes as the gypsy love interest. The showcase musical items are as exciting as they are billed, and the comedy as cheerfully ridiculous as the melodrama.
Like many long-lost films, on rediscovery this proves perhaps not to be the greatest picture in the world -- but in fact it's remarkably good fun.
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