36 user 27 critic

The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)

Passed | | Comedy, Romance, Musical | 1 August 1931 (USA)
An amorous lieutenant is forced to marry a socially awkward princess, though he tries to keep his violin-playing girlfriend on the side.


Ernst Lubitsch


Leopold Jacobson (operetta), Felix Dormann (operetta) (as Felix Dörmann) | 3 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »




Complete credited cast:
Maurice Chevalier ... Lt. Nikolaus 'Niki' von Preyn
Claudette Colbert ... Franzi
Miriam Hopkins ... Princess Anna
Charles Ruggles ... Max (as Charlie Ruggles)
George Barbier ... King Adolf XV
Hugh O'Connell ... Niki's Orderly


Lieutenant Niki of the Austrian royal guard has a new girlfriend, Franzi. He's crazy about her and is smiling at her while on duty in the street. King Adolf and his daughter Princess Anna from the neighboring kingdom of Flausenthurm drive by, and Anna intercepts a wink meant for Franzi. She falls for Niki, marries him (he has no choice in the matter), and whisks him off to Flausenthurm. Franzi follows and enjoys a brief affair with Niki before Anna finds out. Franzi, much more experienced in the ways of the world, gives Anna lessons on how to win the affections of her husband. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


" The Smiling Lieutenant " was the tenth most popular movie at the U.S. box office for 1931. See more »


In the latter part of the movie Chevalier bounds up a grand staircase painted to appear as marble but the loud clomp-clomp-clomp of his shoes reveals it to be just wood. See more »


Princess Anna: [Smiling] He danced with me!
King Adolf XV: [Smiling] And he called me Daddy!
See more »

Alternate Versions

A version in French with dialogue and lyrics by 'Henri Bataille (II)' played in New York City, New York, USA on 15 October 1931, and was a big hit in Paris. It probably was a dubbed English version, but slightly shorter at 2,476.80 m in length. See more »


Referenced in The Men (1950) See more »


Ach Du Lieber Flausenthurm
Sung a cappella by Maurice Chevalier to the tune of the 18th century German folksong "Ach Du Lieber Augustine"
See more »

User Reviews

Sexy, effervescent comedy
7 February 2016 | by MissSimonettaSee all my reviews

Nowadays, could we even make a comedy this sexually-tinged without tipping into sheer raunchiness? What a lovely film! It took me several films before I finally appreciated Lubitsch and out of what I have seen, The Smiling Lieutenant (1931) has quickly surpassed the also excellent To Be or Not (1942) to Be as my favorite. It has a delightful cast, especially Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins as the women who find themselves drawn to Maurice Chevalier's lusty lieutenant. The script is witty, sexy, and full of the joy of youth and sensual love. You feel giddy despite yourself while watching it. If the film has a flaw, then it's that some of the musical numbers are a touch forgettable, but Colbert's wonderful "Jazz Up Your Lingerie" more than makes up for that!

And the appeal isn't limited to pre-code geeks like me. Even my dad, who generally sticks to post-1980s spy thrillers and avoids black and white movies like the plague, could not leave the living room until the movie was finished. He was laughing with, not at, this eighty plus year old film. That's how powerful the Lubitch magic is. Don't miss out!

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English | French

Release Date:

1 August 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Smiling Lieutenant See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


| (cut) | (original)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »

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