Pierre Fresnay and his wife Yvonne Printemps -who is some kind of French Jeanette McDonald -were at their peak and "TRois Valses" which appeared when the French cinema went from strength to strength ,may seem a bit old-fashioned compared to the contemporary masterpieces .
Hinsight displays its charm .It is a portmanteau film since it features three segments the moral of which should be : aristocracy is on the wane and make way for the stars who replaced the marquees ,princesses and countesses .
Segment one: an aristocrat military man ,on the verge of a brilliant career ,falls in love with a music hall singer ,but his family is not prepared to accept it cause she is of common birth.Although the young officer introduces her to Emperor Napoleon the Third and Empress Eugenie ,it's not sure that love will be the stronger.
Segment two:another aristocrat from the same family (but older) falls in love with the singer's granddaughter on a verge of a brilliant singer career.She decides she would have a few days vacation and they head for the country .But she's told that tonight's show will be attended by Prince of Wales and Sarah Bernardt;will love get the upper hand? Segment three :A big star's plane is landing on an airport where her fans are eagerly expecting her.She's a descendant of the two first heroines and she is to make a movie with Gary Cooper.The American star being not available (or was he too expensive for European budgets?),the director has to be content with a French co-star.They choose an amateur who is none other than a descendant of the two first heroes.Being an aristocrat doesn't give a man a living wage and he works in an insurance company.He will play the occasional actor and the two thespians do not get on very well first .The emperor and his wife appear again,a good trick.Will love triumph?
Fresnay and Printemps play three parts each ,but only the former can really create three characters :maybe his wife was handicapped by the fact she was a singer .The movie is a semi-musical :not only Printemps sings several songs (you really have got to be into McDonald 's style to dig them) but she also sings lines of dialog ,which her partner cannot obviously do.
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