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Traveling Salesman Virgil Smith wants to sell his Grammophones in pre-WWI Austria. To enhance this, he especially wants to sell one to Emperor Franz Joseph, but at first the Austrian palace guards think he is carrying a bomb. He meets the Countess Johanna von Stolzenberg-Stolzenberg and after the usual misunderstandings, falls in love with her, this is especially assisted by his dog Buttons. But the relation between a Countess and an ordinary U.S. citizen cannot work in Austria, that is the Emperor's opinion. Is he wrong ? Written by
Stephan Eichenberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The audio to the Emperor Waltz song was used for a Schiller Reel on Saturday Night Live, Dec 17, 1988: "Love is a Dream", featuring Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks, directed by Tom Schiller. See more »
In this, our moment of sorrow, I venture to offer some consolation. There will be other days. She'll give us some puppies yet.
Yes, that's the way to look at it. Come spring and we can count on another litter.
Hmmm... the question is - can I count on another spring?
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"The Emperor Waltz" is an underrated jewel, a true hidden treasure by the great Billy Wilder. The basic idea of the movie is authentic comic genius, Wilder's trade-mark superb wit: two parallel funny love stories, a canine one, of a dog with a blitch, and a human one, of the straightforward American guy Virgil (Bing Crosby) with the haughty Austrian Countess Johanna Augusta Franziska (Joan Fontaine), the respective masters of the pets.
Virgil is a commercial traveller: his stubborn attempts to sell gramophones to (no less a person than) the Emperor Franz-Josef are irresistibly comic. And then the Countess' blitch is the predestined partner of the Emperor's dog, and so she needs to be treated with extreme care (including sessions of psychoanalysis): all the hopes of the over-noble but impoverished family of the Holena von Shwartzemberg-Shwartzemberg lie in her paws... But it's all too funny to be described: see the movie and enjoy yourself.
The funny, gently mocking reconstruction of the Austrian Court and of its rituals at the beginning of the 20th century is stunning. The delightful subtleties are uncountable: see the gentry play lawn-tennis, and the footmen in white gloves who present the tennis-balls on a silver tray...
All the actors make an excellent job, and there are no words to praise enough Richard Haydn as Emperor Franz-Josef. The cinematography, in bright, cheerful colors, is accurate and evocative. The costumes and the locations are magnificent. The film was intended to be a musical: however, we find in it just a pair of nice songs and a rather short ballet. I consider it a further merit of the movie: I'm not much fond of musicals.
I highly recommend "The Emperor Waltz", a praiseworthy issue of Wilder's magic wit and talent.
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