Maria and Karl Lang are the singing duo of Vienna. Maria is very flirtatious and Karl very jealous. Karl decides to masquerade as a Russian guardsman and attempts to make Maria flirt with ... See full summary »
Maria and Karl Lang are the singing duo of Vienna. Maria is very flirtatious and Karl very jealous. Karl decides to masquerade as a Russian guardsman and attempts to make Maria flirt with him - to test her loyalty to him - as the Russian, Karl makes a vigorous attempt to seduce Maria. For a moment she accepts then rejects. Karl is left in turmoil... Written by
This has interesting origins from musical and non-musical plays. In 1909, the operetta "The Chocolate Soldier" opened in New York. This was based on the non-musical play "Arms and the Man" by George Bernard Shaw. However, Shaw voiced objections to his play being adapted as an operetta. A silent film adaptation, The Chocolate Soldier (1914), based on the New York operetta, omitted any reference to George Bernard Shaw. In 1911, a Hungarian non-musical play "Testör" ("The Guardsman") by Ferenc Molnár, opened in Budapest. In 1941 when this film was made, George Bernard Shaw was still alive. Therefore, the music of the New York operetta and the plot of the Hungarian non-musical play "The Guardsman" were used. See more »
"I Am Just a Chocolate Soldier Man in a Uniform so Pretty."
After their seventh teaming in Bittersweet did not fare as well in the box office the previous year, MGM decided to split Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald for their next films. Nelson was given his choice of leading lady and he picked Rise Stevens of the Metropolitan Opera.
If nothing else, Louis B. Mayer prided himself on bringing class to the cinema and he never met a diva he didn't want to sign for MGM. Eddy, who didn't really get along with Mayer and was soon to leave MGM after a spat with him, I think knew just how much it would cost to sign someone from the outside and he made Mayer spend the dough.
Rise Stevens had appeared with him on radio so Nelson's motives weren't completely to hurt Mayer financially. They worked well together here and maybe they could have been a screen team themselves. Rise Stevens had a good gift for comedy, very much like that other singer/actress Irene Dunne. But after The Chocolate Soldier and an appearance in Going My Way with Bing Crosby, she left the silver screen.
Like the Eddy/MacDonald feature Sweethearts this utilizes the music, but not the plot. Like Sweethearts the leads are appearing on stage in The Chocolate Soldier, but it's a backstage story for the plot. And the plot used is The Guardsman which MGM owned the rights to, having filmed it in 1931 with Alfred Lunt and Lynne Fontanne.
Eddy and Stevens look so good and sing so beautifully on stage, but that doesn't account for Eddy's all consuming jealousy over his wife. His Othello act doesn't even need an Iago for a boost, he's creating all kinds of imaginary lovers for Stevens. Finally he decides to put her to the test, playing a phony Russian opera singer with beard and Cossack costume. Stevens however is up to the challenge and it's a pretty funny film that follows.
The two leads have some nice duets together, particularly the My Hero duet from Oscar Straus's Chocolate Soldier. But the big hits of this film are Moussorgsky's Song of the Flea and another song While My Lady Sleeps written by Bronislau Kaper and Gus Kahn. Both were standard items in Nelson Eddy concerts. Eddy recorded both, however the version I have of the Song of the Flea is in English and in The Chocolate Soldier, Nelson sings it in the original Russian.
It was a good teaming Eddy and Stevens and since right after this Jeanette and Nelson would be doing their last film together, I Married an Angel, it's unfortunate Stevens and Eddy did not do a few more films together themselves.
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