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11 user 6 critic

The Big Pond (1930)

A tour guide in Venice romances a visiting American tourist whose father owns a chewing-gum factory back in the U.S. She sets out to convince her skeptical father to bring the tour guide to America and give him a job in the plant.

Director:

Hobart Henley

Writers:

Garrett Fort (story), George Middleton (play) | 3 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Maurice Chevalier ... Pierre Mirande
Claudette Colbert ... Barbara Billings
George Barbier ... Mr. Billings
Marion Ballou Marion Ballou ... Mrs. Billings
Andrée Corday Andrée Corday ... Toinette
Frank Lyon Frank Lyon ... Ronnie
Nat Pendleton ... Pat O'Day
Elaine Koch Elaine Koch ... Jennie
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Storyline

A tour guide in Venice romances a visiting American tourist whose father owns a chewing-gum factory back in the U.S. She sets out to convince her skeptical father to bring the tour guide to America and give him a job in the plant.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Certificate:

Not Rated
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

3 May 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El gran charco See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (MovieTone)| Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Monkey Business (1931) See more »

Soundtracks

Mia Cara
Written by Sammy Fain, Irving Kahal and Pierre Norman
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Maurice Chevalier sans the Lubitsch Touch
1 October 2018 | by CineanalystSee all my reviews

"The Big Pond" is the only film thus far that I've seen not directed by Ernst Lubitsch to star Maurice Chevalier, excepting the Lubitsch-esque "Love Me Tonight" (1932) and his supporting roles later in life, such as his cringingly pedophilic "Thank Heaven for Little Girls" in "Gigi" (1958). Although he was nominated for an Academy Award for both his performance here and in Lubitsch's "The Love Parade" (1929), the gulf between these two performances and films in terms of appeal and quality seems as large as the Atlantic Ocean, from which this film derives its title.

In this one, Chevalier plays a French tour guide in Venice, I guess, who plans to marry an American (a pre-stardom Claudette Colbert), whose father owns a chewing-gum factory in the states. To make good, Chevalier works his way up her father's factory by inventing liquor-flavored gum (without the alcohol, of course, as this was made during Prohibition) and by writing lyrics to advertise it. To the shock of Colbert's character, but to nobody who has ever worked for a living, Chevalier doesn't have as much time for romancing her with all of this newfound hard work. The resolution to this conflict is predictable enough, of course, although it involves abduction.

Lubitsch was a master filmmaker, who collaborated with his screenwriters, acted out every part himself for the actors, mapped out elements such as camera placement and blocking ahead of time, and he was one of the most respected cutters in the business. Mary Pickford even turned to him to fix her film "Sparrows" (1926). This level of care and craft is evident in "The Love Parade," which was a musical ahead of its time in that many movies for a few years after it were of subpar quality, even technically. "The Big Pond" is one such subsequent production. Its average shot length of 12.4 seconds is a rather typical slow pace for an early musical ("The Love Parade" is no quicker), but the edits tend to be awkward--cutting away from characters as they're still delivering lines or even from Chevalier during his first song. Character blocking also clearly wasn't planned thoroughly, with the camera doing quite a bit of panning just to try to keep most of the actors within frame and often not successfully. And all of the claustrophobic interiors and dialogue-heavy action make for a stagy look.

Although it has a couple repetitive songs performed by Chevalier, they're mere show-stopping interludes, as opposed to the integrated numbers that were the main attraction in "The Love Parade" and that elaborated and commented upon the story. Plus, Chevalier doesn't break the fourth wall to wink at the camera and address the audience, to serenade us, as he does in Lubitsch's films. Instead, he and the other actors, notably the one playing the father, tend to gesticulate wildly. Lubitsch also would've likely done something more interesting with the love triangle here--making it something of a sophisticated sex comedy--and he may've included another woman to temp Chevalier away instead of the throwaway plot of the child he befriends here. Unfortunately, however, Chevalier and his character may've been working hard for this one, but it doesn't seem that anyone else was.


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