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New Moon is the name of the ship crossing the Caspian Sea. A young Lt. Petroff meets the Princess Tanya and they have a ship board romance. Upon arriving at the port of Krasnov, Petroff learns that Tanya is engaged to the old Governor Brusiloff. Petroff, disillusioned, crashes the ball to talk with Tanya. Found by Brusiloff, they invent a story about her lost bracelet. To reward him, and remove him, Brusiloff sends Petroff to the remote, and deadly, Fort Darvaz. Soon, the big battle against overwhelming odds will begin.Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After New Moon had completed its run of 509 performances on Broadway a year earlier, MGM bought the rights to the film and for reasons known only to Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg scrapped the French colonial New Orleans setting and transferred the story to Tsarist Russia. They realized their mistake and 10 years later filmed it with most of the original story intact with Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. It's the version that most know today.
The score was also mostly scrapped except for some of the most well known numbers. But what MGM did do was engage two of opera's greatest voices to star in this film, Lawrence Tibbett and Grace Moore.
If you were willing to pay some exorbitant ticket prices you could see Tibbett and Moore on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in any number of productions. Or you could listen to them on the radio and on record where they were some of the biggest classical selling artists of their day. Until Mario Lanza came along, Grace Moore in fact was the biggest classical selling artist.
And as I'm a real fan of operetta, hokey plots and all, a film like this is a real treat for the ear. Even Nelson and Jeanette don't sound as good as Larry and Grace singing the Sigmund Romberg-Oscar Hammerstein,II score.
The plot is hokey however. Tibbett and Moore meet on a sea voyage, the Caspian Sea where Moore is to marry the provincial governor and Tibbett, an Army lieutenant, to take up a new post. Of course they meet on the ship called The New Moon and fall for each other.
When the governor Adolphe Menjou hears of it, he gets Tibbett transferred to the far reaches of the frontier where the savage Turkomen are not real accepting of the Tsar's authority. Menjou's character is Boris Brusilov and he's known in court circles as Bedroom Boris so we know it's his vanity that's hurting not his pride. Still Tibbett insults Moore before taking his leave.
But Grace does not like to be scorned. She travels with her uncle Roland Young out to the outpost for the sole purpose of slapping Tibbett with her riding whip. But with the Turkomen closing in, she might pay big time for her little temper tantrum.
Of course it's ridiculous, more ridiculous than the original New Moon plot. But the chance to see Tibbett and Moore together is well worth it. Gus Shy even though the plot has changed still plays the same role as sidekick to the hero as he did on the stage version. He's the only one from the original stage production to make it on the screen.
Roland Young is as always drolly amusing. He steals every scene he's in. The New Moon is for fans of classical voices and escapist operetta of which there are fewer and fewer unfortunately.
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