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A Texas millionaire travels to Europe to meet his girlfriend, a European countess. He stops in a rustic mountain village and meets a beautiful peasant girl. He falls in love with her, then must decide if he wants her or the rich countess. Written by
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 »
Paris HONEYMOON (Paramount, 1938), directed by Frank Tuttle, reunites Bing Crosby and Shirley Ross, who had recently starred in WAIKIKI WEDDING (1937), also directed by Tuttle. As much as the title of Paris HONEYMOON indicates a sequel to WAIKIKI WEDDING, it wasn't, but would have made a fine double feature. As with WAIKIKI WEDDING, Crosby is supported by fine character performers. Instead of Martha Raye and Bob Burns to complicate matters, Paris HONEYMOON provides Akim Tamiroff, Edward Everett Horton and Ben Blue for comic support. Unlike WAIKIKI WEDDING, Shirley Ross is mainly the secondary female lead while Franciska Gaal (1904-1972), Paramount's most recent foreign import who had made her Hollywood debut in Cecil B. DeMille's rousing adventure, THE BUCANNEER (1938), is the main attraction.
The story starts off with "Lucky" Lawton (Bing Crosby), a Texas cowboy tycoon, assisted by his valet, Ernest Figg (Edward Everett Horton), in Europe, to attend his upcoming wedding to the wealthy Countess De Remi, formerly known as Barbara Wayne (Shirley Ross). But on the eve of their marriage, Barbara receives word that there is a delay in obtaining her divorce from her former husband (Gregory Gaye). The wedding is postponed for now until Barbara heads for Paris to speed up the process. In the meantime, Lucky decides to look over a castle in a small Balkan village in the mountains which he has bought for his honeymoon cottage. While there he encounters Manya (Franciska Gaal), a peasant girl known for telling tales to her friends, who has been selected as queen of the forthcoming rose festival. After their union, Lucky finds this "sweet little headache" hard to avoid and resist, and must decide whether to give her up in marriage to a buffoonish Peter Karlocka (Akim Tamiroff), the town mayor, or saddle up with Barbara once her divorce is finalized.
This light-hearted comedy provides some fine but unmemorable tunes by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger: "Funny Old Hills" (sung by Bing Crosby); "Work While You May" (sung by villagers); "I Have Eyes to See With" (sung by Bing Crosby and Shirley Ross); "You're a Sweet Little Headache" (sung by Crosby to Franciska Gaal); "Joobalai" (sung by villagers, Crosby and Gaal); and "Funny Old Hills" (reprise by Crosby and Gaal). The simple and tender tune of "I Have Eyes to See With" is presented by Crosby and Ross at opposite ends of the telephone (a gimmick done once before by Crosby and Kitty Carlisle in SHE LOVES ME NOT (1934)), with Ross vocalizing her verse from her bathtub at a Paris hotel. But it's "Sweet Little Headache" that is provided as the theme song heard through the underscoring, especially when it involves the pert Franciska Gaal. Gaal does get to sing along with Crosby, and while she does have a pleasing voice, she wouldn't get a chance to appear in another musical again. After one more American film, THE GIRL DOWNSTAIRS (MGM, 1939), Gaal would return to her native Budapest, Hungary. During the rose festival sequence, prior to the lively "Joobalai" number, the villagers dance to an instrumental score of "The Tra-La-La and the Oomph Pa-Pa" which is not provided vocally in this production. However, this lyrics would be heard and sung by Martha Raye in the comedy, NEVER SAY DIE (Paramount, 1939).
The supporting cast features Rafaela Ottiano as Fluschotska; Ben Blue as Sitska, the village idiot who later provides humorous results during a drunken scene during a festival; Victor Kilian as the Ancient Villager and Michael S. Visaroff as The Bishop. Ottiano provides herself with some funny lines, recited in her usual serious manner. When Edward Everett Horton accidentally gets hot water spilled on him, he quips to her, "Why don't you boil me in oil and be done with it!" Ottiano coldly replies, "It is not the custom."
Although Paris HONEYMOON is far from being Crosby's best cinematic work, the predictable plot is helped along by the chemistry between Crosby and his supporting players. A bit long at 92 minutes, it gets by with its good tunes, comedic support and some good European picturesque settings which might have worked out better photographed in Technicolor. On the humorous side, in the castle sequence where Crosby wants to discourage Gaal, he decides to scare her off by haunting the place as he floats around the castle's dank chambers as a disembodied head singing "I ain't got nobody." Wolf howling adds to the eerie atmosphere. Unfortunately for him, the plan backfires, especially on Crosby. Another venture of comedy is provided during the festival where Peter Karloca (Tamiroff) becomes the victim of spiked-up liquor during his proposed wedding ceremony to Manya, who originally had intended to use the potion on the jealous Barbara Wayne to put her out of the way so she can be at the festival with Lucky. Essentially a dramatic actor riding high with more screen time following his Academy Award nominated performance in THE GENERAL DIED AT DAWN (Paramount, 1936), Akim Tamiroff, whose name is billed second after Crosby in the credits, followed by Gaal and Ross, handles himself quite well with his comedic performance. Absolutely.
Rarely seen in recent years, Paris HONEYMOON was one of many Bing Crosby films of the 1930s to be seen on a regular basis on late night or midday commercial television during the 1960s and 1970s. And after a long hiatus, it would make a fine welcome back if it should ever resurface again, particularly on a classic movie cable channel. (**1/2)
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