A young woman, Poppy, out for excitement in Shanghai, enters a gambling house owned by "Mother" Gin Sling, a dragon-lady who worked herself up from poverty to buy the casino. Sir Guy ... See full summary »
A criminal known as Thunderbolt is imprisoned and facing execution. Into the next cell is placed Bob Moran, an innocent man who has been framed and who is in love with Thunderbolt's girl. ... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg directed, photographed, provides the voice-over narration and wrote the screenplay (from a based-on-actual event novel by Michiro Maruyana translated by Younghill Kang) ... See full summary »
Film told in flashbacks of an older man's obsession for a woman who can belong to no-one but can frustrate everyone. The backdrop is SternbergÍs surreal and fantastic Carnaval in Spain. In ... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
Edward Everett Horton
In late 19th century Vienna, Lena Smith, a naive peasant girl from Hungary, has a child by a corrupt young cavalry officer, and goes to work his house as a servant, hiding the truth from ... See full summary »
Josef von Sternberg
Gustav von Seyffertitz
An enjoyable romantic comedy - but not really a musical
I've always liked Grace Moore in movies, though I'm not quite sure why. She wasn't the greatest singer, and she had some annoying vocal mannerisms. But she certainly sang with enthusiasm, and that is probably what I've enjoyed about her film appearances.
Sometimes, as in her first success, One Night of Love, the singing was spirited but her delivery of dialog often stilted. That's not the case in this movie. She really comes across most often as very comfortable and natural, qualities that her co-star, Franchot Tone, had in spades. That, I think, is what makes this movie work for me. They are very good in their scenes together, very believable.
What remains a problem for me is the musical aspect of this movie. Others have complained that the songs aren't memorable. For me some are, like The Old Refrain, others not. But the big problem, for me, is that all the musical numbers, with the exception of one march, are vocal solos for Moore. (The march is sung by a men's chorus with Moore singing over them.) Because none of the other characters ever join in the singing, the musical numbers seem isolated from the rest of the picture, and it comes off less as a musical than as a romantic comedy with inserted songs. If you contrast it with a Jeannette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy or Maurice Chevalier picture from the same era, you see the difference.
The plot, as Viennese operettas go, isn't bad. The supporting actors are all good, though I agree that a little of Herman Bing goes a long way, and there is more than a little of him here.
All in all, an agreeable romantic comedy, with inserted songs that don't do anything to advance the story and could, indeed, be cut out without any loss in most cases.
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