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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 <email@example.com>
After having read all the negative reviews and the complaints about Crosby wrecking Wilder's original intention with the film, I was quite amazed to discover that I liked this film a lot. Crosby's interference isn't noticeable, by which I mean that the film has a quite evenhanded tone. And near the end, Crosby is absolutely horrid to Joan Fontaine (cruel to be kind, but he still takes it to extremes) in a cynical way which just smacks of Wilder's black-heartedness. Crosby's character in this film is also somewhat different from his usual persona: not laid-back, but a pushy, brash, fast-talking salesman (Hope or Cagney might have suited the story even better). Joan Fontain is very icy and remote at first (making her unattractive), but she melts very convincingly once the love affair starts. The film is also a sort of a parody of the musical: Crosby's yodelling song is full of yodel jokes, and during THE number of the film (I kiss your hand in dreams madame), a chamber-maid, Fontaine's goofy chauffeur and the middle-aged pudgy 'receptionist' of the inn at which Mr. C is staying launch into a wonderfully silly (deliberately so) ballet routine clearly intended as a stab at the conventions of the genre. The last part of the film becomes less amusing, and the puppy finale drags a bit, though the final confrontation with Franz Joseph (a great Richard Haydn) makes up for the lull. Finally, Fontaine has one of the greatest lines in movie history when she finally surrenders to Crosby: 'My husband was dashing and suave. He was 6'2". He was the most handsome man in all of Austria. You're so different!!' And kiss. Sheer brilliance.
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