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Marshovia, a small European kingdom, is on the brink of bankruptcy but the country may be saved if the wealthy American Crystal Radek, widow of a Marshovian, can be convinced to part with her money and marry the king's nephew count Danilo. Arriving to Marshovia on a visit, Crystal Radek change places with her secretary Kitty. Following them to Paris, Danilo has a hard time wooing the woman he believes is the widow after falling in love with an attractive young woman at a nightclub, the same Crystal Radek who presents herself as Fifi the chorus girl. Written by
MGM churns out a lackluster Technicolor musical featuring the beautiful Lana Turner
The lovely Lana Turner stars in this rather lackluster Technicolor musical. In my opinion it is far inferior to the charming and hilarious 1934 Ernst Lubitsch version. (Both films are adaptations of an operetta, so the 1934 one isn't exactly the "original".)
To this film's credit, it's rather different from Lubitsch's version. It doesn't try to be an exact copy and can therefore be judged on its own merits. (I can't say which version of the story is most true to the original play.) This 1952 version is, for one thing, in color and features some new ballads to go with a couple familiar tunes from the earlier film. The songs, however, are largely forgettable. The storyline, about a small European kingdom sending a man to woo a wealthy widow, is a little different in this version, although the general arc is similar. (Viewers familiar with the 1934 version will notice the differences; I won't mention them here.)
This film overall did not impress me, partly because I'd been previously spoiled with the Lubitsch version, which is simultaneously a fairy tale romance and a hilarious comedy (with music, too!). This 1952 version is more of a second-tier MGM romance musical. It's really not a legitimate comedy, although it does try to be funny. But Lana Turner looks great in this good girl role (she'd played many a femme fatale) and the cast isn't bad. I can't fault the movie for trying, but it just falls a little flat for me.
THE MERRY WIDOW (1952) may be fun for musical junkies or viewers who don't know what they're missing, but I'd recommend the comedy of the 1934 version of the same story.
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