One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »
Music and Libretto by Benjamin Godard See more »
"Romance in the Dark" is a rather suggestive title for such an innocuous bit of fluff like this musical comedy. It seems to have been one of many attempts in the 1930's to find another Jeanette MacDonald, when studios were placing in front of the cameras Lily Pons, Grace Moore, Miliza Korjus and seemingly every diva under 250 pounds whose face would not fracture the camera lens. In this case, it was Gladys Swarthout who made four or five films before she left Hollywood.
Here, she plays a young Hungarian music student who receives a prize for outstanding graduate from her conservatory from John Boles and John Barrymore, respectively the leading opera singer and leading impresario in Budapest. She follows Boles to the capital and when he doesn't remember her, takes a job as his maid to insinuate herself into a singing career. He eventually takes note of her talent and hits upon a scheme to pass her off as a mysterious Persian prodigy to lure Barrymore into signing her while leaving the coast clear for him to woo Claire Dodds as a snooty countess both men are pursuing. Complications ensue.
The plot is foolish piffle, not to be taken seriously. Swarthout sings admirably and is attractive enough, but merely gets by as an actress. Boles gets to sing here and is livelier than in his straight acting roles, while Barrymore coasts along in support, not hamming it up as much as in some of his other later roles, with a few amusing moments. Many of the more pleasurable moments come via veteran supporting actors Fritz Feld and Curt Bois (who late in life had a role in Wim Wenders classic "Wings of Desire"). I guess what this really could have used was an Ernst Lubitsch behind the camera instead of H.C. Potter!
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