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It was not planned that way, but as it turns out the film adaption of
the Rodgers&Hart Broadway musical I Married an Angel turned out to be
the last pairing of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. Nelson in fact
left Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer after this film and bought his own contract
out for $250,000.00 according to a recently published book about the
pair by Sheryl Rich.
They are in good voice and the songs of Rodgers&Hart never got a better treatment. Unfortunately the film ran into some censorship problems about celestial creatures doing some very earthly things. Rodgers&Hart were busy on Broadway and couldn't help. Two very big shows for them, Pal Joey and By Jupiter kept them occupied.
Nelson is a happy carefree Hungarian playboy who's grandfather started the Bank of Budapest. But Nelson would rather spend his time with wine, women, and song and since it's Nelson Eddy, song doesn't take third place to the other two. At his birthday party he's taken by a little known to him employee at the bank in an angel costume. Guess who that is? Feeling a little the worse for wear from the revelry, Nelson takes a little snooze.
During the dream Jeanette appears to him as a real angel and Nelson is smitten. He asks her to marry him and she agrees. She's without a dishonest bone in her heavenly body.
Unfortunately her time in heaven has not prepared her to deal with certain earthly hypocrisies. It's one wild celestial ride that Jeanette gives Nelson.
The title song, I'll Tell the Man in the Street, and Spring is Here are the big hit numbers from the Broadway show and the stars do them well. The satire comes off far better here than it did for Jeanette and Nelson in Bittersweet, but still censorship really crippled some of the best lines from Broadway.
Binnie Barnes, Reginald Owen, Edward Everett Horton and Douglass Dumbrille give good support to the singing sweethearts. Barnes practically steals the show as the wisecracking earthly friend of MacDonald who sets out to teach her worldly ways.
I think fans of MacDonald and Eddy and others who do knock this film ought to give it a second look. It's not as bad as some would make it out to be.
Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy star in this "modern" musical that
showcases MacDonald's comic abilities. Surreal 40s musical seem to be
making fun of 40s fashions even as they were in current vogue. Eye-popping
costumes and sets (yes B&W) add to the surreal, dreamlike quality of the
film. Several good songs enliven the film, with the "Twinkle in Your Eye"
a total highlight, including a fun jitterbug number between MacDonald and
Binnie Barnes. Also in the HUGE cast are Edward Everett Horton, Reginal
Owen, Mona Maris, Douglas Dumbrille and Anne Jeffreys. Also to been seen
extended bit parts are Esther Dale, Almira Sessions, Grace Hayle, Gertrude
Hoffman, Rafaela Ottiano, Odette Myrtile, Cecil Cunningham and many
Great fun and nice to see the wonderful MacDonald in her jitterbug/vamp routines. She could do it all.
It appears that there's no middle ground on this movie! Most of it
takes place in a dream and, like most dreams, it's often foolish and
illogical. It's also a gorgeous production with some great songs and
fine performances, especially by our angel.
Jeanette's deadpan, unknowing insults and various other faux pas at the dream reception are hilarious, and her jitterbug with Binnie Barnes is a surprise and a delight. At one point, she gets to sing a snippet from Carmen, followed by the final trio of Faust (holding a lapdog, for some strange reason), then "Aloha Oe" on the beach!
It's a surreal comedy--tremendously entertaining if you can get into the groove.
The movie is a fantasy. The story line is thin but serves as the
structure upon which some wonderful songs are sung and sung
beautifully. (I still cannot believe that such handsome and attractive
people could sing this well.) Some of the dialog is wonderfully clever.
The costumes made me feel as though I was watching a haute couture
fashion show from 1942.
Movies are designed to serve various purposes. This one is designed to entertain and it certainly does. If I have one negative comment it would be that Nelson Eddy was a little too old to be the handsome dashing Count. Some of the closeups made me uncomfortable. But he could still sing and sing magnificently. However, Jeanette MacDonald was just as dazzling as ever. She makes a spectacular angel.
This genre is well before my time, and I an new to the Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy films and related conversation. The music in this movie is beautiful. As much as I love the classic rock music which fills most modern movies, there is no question in my mind that this music is simply and clearly more memorable, more delightful, better constructed. The stars in this movie are more talented than the stars I see in the movie theaters today. And Jeanette MacDonald, without the benefit of Beverly Hills plastic surgeons, was more beautiful than the stars I see today. I am unclear as to why so many other posters are apologetic about liking this movie and more generally this group of movies. They say it is dated and try to explain why it is the way it is. And those that do not like it say that it is not very good but compared to what? I think this movie will doubtless still be entertaining people when so many other movie are long forgotten. There is just too much quality in every way in this movie for it not to be remembered and enjoyed. I recommend this movie without reservation to anyone who appreciates great talent, great beauty and great music.
I know a lot of people don't like this movie, but I just think it is adorable. There's not much I can say, but the movie is a feel-good movie I guess. The songs are beautiful, the costumes are beautiful, the voices are beautiful, and there are a lot of funny lines in the movie, especially as Briggitta learns about the do's and don't's of society. If you like musicals, I'd say you'd like this one!
One used to say, concerning Nathaniel Hawthorne, that his failures were
more interesting than his successes. I believe that the same remark
could suit to McDonald-Eddy's pictures. And especially this one.
It apparently possesses many characteristics of a failed movie: it's kitsch, the script, because of censorship, sounds inconsistent Yet, this movie gets also some good points: good Rodgers-Hart's music ("I married an angel", "Tira tira tira la"), good acting with E.E.Horton and Reginald Owen.
Anyway, if you may dislike it, you can't forget it. This strange movie actually leaves a very strong, dreamlike, impression, and you are very likely to keep it in mind for days, maybe for weeks. Why? In the thirties and the beginning of the forties, movies didn't have the same mean than today: it aimed, like a dream, to divert the public in order to make it forget a difficult reality. Of all the the dream-movies that was made, in that time, this one stands as particularly powerful.
In short, let's say that the better way to appreciate this movie, is to watch it without wondering whether it's good or bad. To watch it, like you would watch a dream.
Based on the Broadway musical, "I Married an Angel" is a fantasy that
takes place in Budapest. Released in 1942, it proved to be the last
film for Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, as Eddy bought out his
contract and left MGM.
The story concerns a secretary, Anna (again MacDonald) who is in love with the her playboy banker boss, Count Pilaffi (Eddy), and has been invited to his birthday party. Because it's a costume party, a jealous girlfriend of the Count's (Mona Maris) makes sure that Anna is in a cheap makeshift angel costume, complete with aluminum wings, one of which falls off, and a halo that hits the Count in the face when he tries to dance with her. After being hit one too many times, the Count excuses himself and goes upstairs, where he falls asleep.
He dreams that an angel, Brigitta (MacDonald again) comes down from heaven to be his wife. She seems perfect, except that she's not used to the ways of the world - polite social talk, for instance - so she tells it like it is, thereby insulting a lot of important people. She gets some lessons from an earthy earth woman (Binnie Barnes) and manages to save the day for her husband.
This film is often criticized by MacDonald-Eddy fans. In truth, MacDonald was never more beautiful, sings well, and Eddy is in fabulous voice. The title song is the big one, along with "Spring is Here." Granted the plot is paper thin, but the couple wasn't known for making heavy movies. Lovely singing, pretty music, a not overly long film, "I Married An Angel" doesn't try to be anything but what it is - light entertainment. Take it on that level, and you won't be disappointed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
My observations: vamp outfit at end is ravishing and wonderful, exotic
and fantastic. Jeanette wore it well, and got even with naive Nelson.
Boat crashing into his balcony served him right. Costume outfits of his
female mafia were designed surprisingly well, especially by today's
standards. 1942 costume designer did great job. Main song theme just
Caution to negative posters: 1942 was time of WW II; Pearl Harbor happened year before. U.S. just coming out of Great Depression; needed to get out and spend that hard earned money on diversion of singing, dance and yes, fantastic fantasy. Despotic dictators were trying to rule out there in RL, snuffing out freedoms. Thank goodness the public had these fantastic plot line movies to attend. Movie going was a privileged treat, in those depressing times. When you, negative posters, become actors or even movie stars, then YOU have room to talk and criticize. Jeanette's and Nelson's movies stand the test of time.
Angel wings wonderful, on the real angel. RL wings at costume party not so hot, but great on Jeanette considering the SL.
Beautiful singing by Jeanette and Nelson, as always. Jeanette dancing was a pure delight.
This movie improves with every viewing! Because it's a fantasy, every time you see it, you notice different things going on in the background. I used to mind the occasional cut-aways to Willie asleep on the couch, but I realize that even now---perhaps especially now---audiences need to be reminded that it is a dream they're watching. If some parts of the narrative are disconcerting, it seems that several scenes were cut before release, scenes that explain things like the crowd in the street in front of the Palaffi Bank when Willie arrives for work, Peter's sudden appearance and instant dislike of Anna, and how "all of a sudden" Peggy becomes Anna's best friend. But it is a delightful film with beautiful singing, memorable songs, and sly satire that works on several levels. A real treat: watch it! (Regarding Anna's wings at the party: Foil-covered cardboard and a costume made ofbed linen are jealous Marika's attempt to make Anna look foolish.)
That is not to say at all that I Married an Angel is a complete
catastrophe because it isn't. If the songs are good and Nelson Eddy and
Jeanette MacDonald sing well then things are already raised up a few
notches. And that is the case with I Married an Angel. Unfortunately it
does have a lot of things that didn't come off well. The story was
paper-thin, then again that was expected as the stories in Nelson and
Jeanette's films are far from the strongest aspects, but doesn't come
across very well despite that. The first half did come across as too
sickly sweet, and the plotting does get very clumsy and difficult to
follow(it really showed how censorship chopped the story to bits)
complete with a surreal dream sequence that went on for too long and
was weird even for a sequence that was intended to be surreal.
Some of the fantasy/romantic moments are charming though and heart-warming and there are a few witty quips from Jeanette MacDonald and Edward Everett Horton throughout the film. Scripting-wise, I Married an Angel could have benefited from a lighter and more satirical touch, it has its moments but if censorship hadn't reared its ugly head then the film would have felt less heavy and much sharper. Again like the story it has moments but they aren't enough. And as great as Nelson Eddy's singing is and his personal charm and handsome looks are, he did seem too stiff in his role, there are also a couple of unforgiving camera angles which suggests that he was also a little too old.
Things are definitely made up for though by the lavish costumes and sets as well as the crisp photography. The songs are just lovely, especially the title number, A Twinkle in Your Eye and Spring Is Here. The choreography has its charm and energy too, the Jitterbug number between MacDonald and Binnie Barnes is a lot of fun and they seemed to be having fun too, which is a pleasure to see. Edward Everett Horton(though his roles Fred and Ginger films serve his talents better), Reginald Owen and Binnie Barnes delight in supporting roles, making the most of their material despite it not being the best to work with. Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald's pairing and singing are the best thing about I Married an Angel.
While Eddy has been much better dramatically, he still has that wonderful baritone voice- the most beautiful of its type on film, those Howard Keel comes close- and he has the songs to show it off with, it sounds very rich, supple, beautiful and robust with a touch of sensitivity as well. MacDonald was always the superior actress and she is incredibly beautiful and sassy, and he sounds lovely too, singing delicately and with sweet understated tone in Spring is Here. Though maybe the Jitterbug number was not the right style for her and did seem like the sort of song that needed a bigger voice but she still sings the heck out of it. The two work really well together, and blend beautifully in their duets.
All in all, the weakest of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald's collaborations, but from a personal perspective while flawed it was not as bad as heard. If it weren't for the censorship though, I Married an Angel might have been a different and better film. If you want to see a film more than worthy for this duo look to Maytime or New Moon. 6/10 Bethany Cox
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