6.2/10
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17 user 5 critic

The Emperor Waltz (1948)

A brash American gramophone salesman tries to get Emperor Franz Joseph's endorsement in turn-of-the-century Austria.

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Roland Culver ...
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...
Harold Vermilyea ...
...
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Bert Prival ...
Alma Macrorie ...
Inn Proprietress
Roberta Jonay ...
Chambermaid
John Goldsworthy ...
Obersthofmeister

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Storyline

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 <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

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Paramount's Crowning Entertainment Achievement! Bing's Best Songs!


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Details

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Release Date:

2 July 1948 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Valsa do Imperador  »

Box Office

Budget:

$4,070,248 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on September 26, 1949 with Bing Crosby reprising his film role. See more »

Quotes

Baron Holenia: I am not narrow-minded! I could even forgive him being an American if he belonged to one of those Vander, Astor, uh, Rocker, uh, families. But a Mr. Smith?
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Connections

Referenced in Edith Head: The Paramount Years (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

I Kiss Your Hand, Madame
(uncredited)
Music by Ralph Erwin
English Lyrics by Sam Lewis and Joe Young
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User Reviews

Piffle, but very pretty
30 September 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

It would be hard to find two consecutive feature films by a director of significance as different from one another as "The Lost Weekend" and "The Emperor Waltz", the former as hysterically hard hitting as anything Hollywood produced in the 'forties, the latter pure schmaltzy escapism. The first and most obvious conclusion is that Billy Wilder, as part of his contract to Paramount, was doing as he was told in producing a piece of box office confectionery. And yet there is no escaping the credits which bill the script as being by Wilder himself and Charles Brackett. So he must have known what he was doing. Superficially it looks and sounds like a nostalgic recreation of Wilder's home country, Austria, during a golden period before the First World War when the only thing to unsettle the court of the Emperor Franz Joseph was the entry of an itinerant American phonograph salesman and his mongrel dog. It is said that it might have been a different film but for the fact that Wilder had to accept Bing Crosby for the leading role and that he had to cater for the audience expectations of one of the most popular stars of the day, hence the odd song, though scarcely enough to make it a musical in the fully accepted sense. There is the odd witty line such as Franz Joseph's remark that were he to shave off his whiskers it would create consternation in changing his image on the country's currency. Apart from this it is hard to find much in the way of Wilder's characteristically cracking dialogue. The parallel romance between Bing and a countess and their dogs Buttons and Sheherazade rather palls after a while but the pretty visuals with the Canadian Rockies substituting for the Austrian Tyrol have some compensations. Bing plays his part with star flair although the same can hardly be said of Joan Fontaine as the countess. Aside from the virtue of a gorgeous hair-do, she acts with a stilted woodenness that is light years away from her work in "Rebecca" and "Jane Eyre". Still there is generally something engaging to catch the eye including one wonderfully kitschy moment when all the lasses from a village where violins are made play their instruments. When Wilder made "The Emperor Waltz" he already had to his credit that immortal film noir "Double Indemnity". 1947/48 must have been a particularly bad period for him as he followed his Austrian romance with easily his worst effort, "A Foreign Affair", a third-rate "Ninotchka" tale set in postwar Berlin with Jean Arthur, an otherwise good actress, hardly a match for Garbo. For all its faults "The Emperor Waltz" is infinitely more enjoyable though there is little indication of the talent that was to produce "Some Like It Hot", "The Apartment" and "Kiss Me, Stupid".


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