Ousted from their homeland by the Bolshevik revolution, a royal Russian couple find themselves impoverished and living in Paris. They take positions as butler and housemaid in a wealthy ... See full summary »
Ousted from their homeland by the Bolshevik revolution, a royal Russian couple find themselves impoverished and living in Paris. They take positions as butler and housemaid in a wealthy household and, owing to their impeccable breeding and manners, excel in their new jobs. But once they are recognized for the royal couple they are, they must face new -- and formidable -- responsibilities. Written by
Dan Navarro <email@example.com>
Adapted from a French play authored by Jacques Deval, Tovarich had a successful run on Broadway the year before the film came out for 356 performances. Robert Sherwood did the adaption and for the screen, the talents of Casey Robinson were brought in to adapt Tovarich to another medium. Usually these collaborative efforts tend to dilute, but in the case of Tovarich, it's bright sophisticated comedy that gives both Charles Boyer and Claudette Colbert two of their best screen roles.
Boyer and Colbert play a couple of exiled Russian nobles living in genteel poverty in Paris as so many did after the Russian Revolution. She's a bit more noble than he, Colbert is actually a blood Romanov and Boyer only married into the royal family. Before he and the family were overthrown, Nicholas II gave Boyer a lot of Russian gold, smuggled out of the country which Boyer laundered to use the modern term and deposited in a French bank under his name. Although no one could have blamed him for occasionally dipping in just for the bare necessities, Boyer and Colbert have refused to do it.
What they're sitting on it for, who can tell. They refuse an a request for money from another exile Morris Carnovsky for some wild scheme to restore the Romanovs. Boyer and Colbert have woke up and smelled the coffee, the Romanov restoration just ain't happening. But what to do with that money, especially when you're living one meal to the next.
Colbert and Boyer take jobs as butler and maid to a wealthy Parisian family consisting of Melville Cooper, Isabel Jeans, Anita Louise, and Maurice Murphy. Reasoning after all that their former status has acquainted them somewhat with the finer things and how that life should be lived. It takes a bit of getting used to as far as the reversal of stations, but gradually they ingratiate themselves with the family.
The big test comes when a dinner party is given and a Commissar from the Soviet Union played by smooth Basil Rathbone is invited. He's got some history with the Romanovs and things get both funny and tense at the same time. A real achievement for director Anatole Litvak.
Tovarich was also the source of a Broadway musical from 1963 in which Vivien Leigh starred in the Claudette Colbert role.
If you think you've figured out who the good and bad people are than you are in for a surprise. Tovarich takes no sides in the politics, it presents the Bolsheviks and Romanovs with all the warts showing. It does it with sparkling humor as well. Try to catch it when broadcast next.
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