Completed in 1930, and reviewed in Photoplay Magazine in August 1930 as _Toast of the Legion_, the film did not open in New York City until 7 January 1931. See more »
[Finding her employee, Fifi, smooching with Legionnaire Paul]
Fifi! So this is the way you waste your time - canoodling!
Paul de St. Cyr:
[Paul and Fifi get up, looking guilty]
Don't blame Fifi, madame. It's my fault.
Don't tell me what to do, you... you canoodler! Come, Fifi.
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Victor Herbert's tune-filled 1905 operetta "Mlle. Modiste" is cut to about half its length and drastically rewritten by the Hollywood know-it-alls, but it's still a melodic and lighthearted little picture. Benefit-of-hindsight bonuses include Edward Everett Horton butching it up as a soldier and Frank McHugh mincing around in the effeminate-comic role (maybe they should have switched parts), a stolid Walter Pidgeon warbling a little, and most of the unsung Herbert songs at least surviving as background score. Bernice Claire, who might have supplanted Jeanette MacDonald as First Diva of the Screen if her career timing were better, is a charmer -- spirited, pretty (she looks like Julie Andrews) and with a bell-clear soprano, nicely captured by the early sound equipment.
It was one of the last operettas made in the genre's first cycle, and too many musicals spoiled the box-office. But it's better-paced and less pretentious than most of its kind.
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