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Nina Maria Azara is the beautiful and alluring singing spy for Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. Her mission is to seduce French Officers, in order for them to reveal Napolean's intentions toward Spain. She is sent to Bayonne, France to gather military secrets. Prior to this, she meets, Don Diego while performing at a club. Unknown to her, Don Diego is actually Captain Andre, who is sent to Spain to spy on her. While in France, Nina discovers Diego's true identity, only after she has fallen in love with him. Nina Maria outwits her potential captors and returns to Spain, and goes into hiding. Napoleon's troops invade Spain, resulting in Nina's capture. In a strange twist of fate, Nina and Captain Andre are reunited, but, the 2 nations are now at war... Written by
Boring, over long confusion of historical epic and song
Allan Jones has a wonderful voice, but a rather bland personality. He is no match for Jeannette MacDonald, who here gives her best dramatic performance on screen with not much to play against. Warren William is the villain and he has more presence than Jones.
Jones and MacDonald play spies, he for France and she for Spain, during Napoleon's attempt to kidnap the King of Spain and add that country to his fiefdom. There is much intrigue and a few songs along the way, the best known being The Donkey Serenade and Gianina Mia.
The problem lies in the length of the scenes and musical numbers. This film could easily have had half an hour snipped out of it, bringing it closer to conventional playing times of the period. At 2 hours, 10 minutes, it is just too long. And it is heavy-handedly directed and written.
The original operetta from 1912 had a few good tunes. Friml was third in line of talent, behind Romberg and Herbert, as America's trio of operetta composers. The score is just not good enough to mount a major film around.
MacDonald is always worth seeing, as she either matches or outshines her best material. This one, like Broadway Serenade a few years later, was not one of her best films and is recommended for her fans and those of Jones only.
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