It's also a remarkably well made film for 1932, when most films were just getting used to sound and suffered from a horrible stiffness on the part of the actors and the camera. You'd think this movie was made ten years later, it's lively and sparkling, and directed with a smoothness and originality that's still amazing.
Love Me Tonight (1932)
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It's also a remarkably well made film for 1932, when most films were just getting used to sound and suffered from a horrible stiffness on the part of the actors and the camera. You'd think this movie was made ten years later, it's lively and sparkling, and directed with a smoothness and originality that's still amazing.
The story focuses on a French tailor named Maurice (Maurice Chevalier) who is swindled out of his fee by the Vicomte DeVarez (Charles Ruggles). He soon sets out for the castle of the Vicomte's uncle, The Duke (C. Aubrey Smith) to collect the fee. While there, at the advice of the Vicomte, who promises to pay him within a few days, to remain at the castle under the guise of a royal Baron. Maurice, who had earlier encountered Jeanette (Jeanette MacDonald), a beautiful but lonely princess, immediately falls in love with her, in spite of her resistance. Things start to look bright for Maurice and Jeanette until it is discovered that Maurice is not nothing but a tailor.
The supporting cast consists of Myrna Loy (on loan from MGM) as Countess Valentine; Charles Butterworth as Count DeSavignac, the deadpan character who loves Jeanette as well as his flute; Elizabeth Patterson, Ethel Griffies and Blanche Frederici as the maiden aunts; Robert Greig as Flamond; with Clarence Wilson and Gordon Westcott, among others. The biggest surprise is Myrna Loy, better known for her sophistication rather than her Oriental vamps from her early years, playing an offbeat character as a man-chasing gal who goes for anything in pants, something to the liking of Lillian Roth, who had demonstrated a similar chore in THE LOVE PARADE. Loy even gets some of the film's most witty lines. In a scene where Jeanette becomes ill, and a doctor is needed, her cousin (Ruggles) asks her, "Could you go for a doctor?" She replies, "Certainly, bring him right in."
With the music and lyrics by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, songs include "The Song of Paree," "How Are You?" (both sung by Maurice Chevalier); "Isn't It Romantic?" (sung by Chevalier, Bert Roach, Rolfe Sedan, Tyler Brooke, cast members and Jeanette MacDonald); "Lover" (sung by MacDonald); "Mimi" (sung by Chevalier); "A Woman Needs Something Like That" (recited by MacDonald and Joseph Cawthorne); "Mimi" (reprise, sung by C. Aubrey Smith, Charles Ruggles, Elizabeth Patterson, Ethel Griffies, Blanche Frederici and Charles Butterworth. Myrna Loy's suggestive version to the song wearing a transparent negligee has been deleted from reissue prints); "I'm an Apache" (sung by Chevalier); "Love Me Tonight" (sung by MacDonald); "The Son-of-a-Gun is Nothing But a Tailor" (sung by cast); and "Love Me Tonight" (sung by Chevalier and MacDonald).
Of the many songs, all are first-rate, but the title tune did not become as memorable as "Isn't It Romantic?" which should have been the film's title since it more fits the mood to the story than "Love Me Tonight." But whatever title, some might shy away from it believing this to be an unbearable sugary love story, but on the contrary, is more than that. It's a love story with a first-rate script, risqué dialog and wonderful tunes that fits together like a jigsaw puzzle. Others might avoid LOVE ME TONIGHT because of its age. Certainly it's old, but in spite of that, it not only gives the impression of being ahead of its time, but that European film-making style to it, ranging from people riding their horses in slow motion photography, lovers communicating in song through their thoughts in split screen, as well as superimposing on MacDonald's face as she must make a big decision while at the same time Chevalier is awaiting for his train with each other's voice singing the title tune in the soundtrack. Up to this time, nothing this original has ever been used for a musical. The wit and wisdom of Ernst Lubitsch might have made LOVE ME TONIGHT a witty love affair, but Mamoulien combines his musical romance with advance technology and style, which is why LOVE ME TONIGHT continues to find a new appreciative audience decades after its initial release. With lines such as, "Once upon a time there was a princess and a prince charming, who was not a prince, but who WAS charming," LOVE ME TONIGHT is a musical fairy tale indeed, something not found in storybooks for children but more on the adult level.
Aside from late night viewing on commercial television from the 1960s to mid 1980s (depending on whatever state this was shown), LOVE ME TONIGHT enjoyed frequent revivals on American Movie Classics cable channel from 1990 to 1996, and resurfaced again on Turner Classic Movies where it premiered July 29, 2004. Thanks to KINO Video, LOVE ME TONIGHT is also available on video cassette and DVD. Originally released at about 100 minutes, prints in circulation today run at 90 minutes. But even the shorter version doesn't take away the impact, simplicity and joy of watching LOVE ME TONIGHT. Sit back, relax and enjoy this one. (****)
The pre-Code screenplay, rife with double entendres and social satire, is a princess-and-commoner love story written to the strengths of its two stars: Chevalier, never more charming, and MacDonald, never a subtler comedienne. With one foot in fantasy and the other in reality, it manages to sustain an otherworldly feeling even while grounded in the modern-day Paris of klaxons, tradesmen, and class consciousness. The supporting cast is phenomenal, with Myrna Loy as a man-hungry countess, C. Aubrey Smith doing his old-codger thing, Charles Butterworth priceless as a mild-mannered nobleman ("I fell flat on my flute!"), and Blanche Frederici, Ethel Griffies, and Elizabeth Patterson as a benign version of the Macbeth witches' trio.
All are wonderful, but the real muscle belongs to the director and the songwriters. Mamoulian's camera has a rhythm of its own and many tricks up its lens: note the fox-hunt sequence suddenly going into slow-motion; the Expressionist shadowplay in Chevalier's "Poor Apache" specialty; the sudden cuts in the "Sonofagun is Nothing But a Tailor" production number. As for the Rodgers and Hart score, it's simply the best they ever wrote for a film -- maybe the best anybody wrote for a film. The songs are unforgettable in themselves -- "Isn't It Romantic?", "Mimi," "Lover," etc. -- but, and here is where genius enters, they're superbly integrated and magnificently thought out. Note the famous "Isn't It Romantic" sequences, the camera roaming effortlessly through countless verses from tailor shop to taxi to field to gypsy camp to castle, finally linking the two leads subliminally, though their characters have never met. "A musical," Mamoulian once said, "must float." This sequence may float higher than any other in any musical.
Best of all, you can sense the unbridled enthusiasm the authors must have had for this project: Rodgers and Hart seem positively giddy with the possibilities of cinema, eager to defy time, place, and reason as was never possible for them onstage. What a pity that this magnificent movie isn't available on video, so that future generations can't easily rediscover its brilliance.
Don't get me wrong: it still is a must-own masterpiece reproduced in a pristine print with sound as clear as a bell, but it is still missing songs and scenes that were cut because they were too long or because the censors repeatedly asked for their exclusion. I didn't have time to listen to the whole commentary by Miles Kreuger, who probably explains how these tasty bits were either destroyed or lost to posterity.
What remains, of course, is the version film lovers have always known from television and have recorded on their VCRs for years. What comes out in this print is that the photography by Victor Milner is very reminiscent of the celebrated Brassaï still photographs of Paris, the lighting is extremely rich and complex and the camera movements are unusual for the time (including a discreet use of the zoom lens for comic effects). Two set pieces ('Isn't Romantic?' and ''The son-of-a-gun is nothing but a tailor') are guaranteed to knock the wind out of you. One song, 'Mimi', has Maurice Chevalier singing to Jeanette MacDonald but directly to the camera and Jeanette looking back at him in the same way, which is spine-tingling. Another song (the pre-recorded 'Love Me Tonight') Is sung over a split-screen view of the lovers sleeping each in their own bed. The film even includes a full-regalia deer hunt and a race between a train and a horsewoman worthy of the 'Perils of Pauline'.
The script is based on a French boulevard comedy called 'The Tailor and the Princess' by Armont and Marchand but it has been amplified by a very witty and poetic script by American Samuel Hoffenstein (who also worked on 'Jekyll'), spoken and sung rhymed couplets by Lorenz Hart and, of course, songs and incidental music by Richard Rodgers.
In this gentle lampoon of French aristocracy and the democratic aspirations of the working classes, songs are not mere filler, they announce scenes, introduce characters and propel the action. They also give rise to very cinematic montages which keep the spectator in a perpetual state of expectation. In this respect, Mamoulian was probably paying respect to what René Clair had accomplished in his French musical 'Le Million' a short time before (1931). Its sexual content, however, was clearly inspired (or dictated) by the preceding film Ernst Lubitsch had directed starring the box-office smash duo of Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier ('Love Parade', 1929, followed in 1935 by 'The Merry Widow'). 'Love Me Tonight' in turn inspired the French style of film comedy for decades to come, where the introduction of working class elements in an aristocratic setting became a kind of stock situation (see 'The Rules of the Game', Jean Renoir, 1939).
As Miles Kreuger explains, this is probably the last screen musical where most of the sung numbers were recorded live on the soundstage, with a live orchestra in attendance off-screen (as evidenced in the production photographs), because the complexity of film-making from this point on required the songs to be pre-recorded. This gives the film a unique, spontaneous quality even in the most choreographed numbers.
The inclusion of the three spinster sisters is a particularly fine touch, reminiscent of the famous 'Mesdames' of Louis XVth's court (his three moralizing unmarried daughters), but they also serve as Greek chorus and a benevolent version of the Three Witches or Three Fairies of folk literature.
Luckily, the DVD also includes a complete reprinting of the script pages of the scenes that were lost to censorship or cut by the studio, as well as censorship notes and they make for fine reading.
All in all, this is one of the most important films in cinema's history, a timeless comedy whose enjoyment will never be marred and a fine DVD package.
The picture is a joy to watch from the beginning. The opening sequence in Paris, as people go about their daily routine, ending with Maurice arriving at his own tailor shop is amazing. The story is pure fantasy, but it serves the movie well. The time where this movie was made had a different feel and there was an innocent air surrounding the magic the new talking pictures that were coming out in the early 30s.
The casting proves to be also excellent. Maurice Chevalier, who was an idol in France, made it big in America. He had a personality that put a good feeling to any character he played. Jeannette McDonald, the leading lady was a favorite of the movie going public and it's easy to see why she was adored.
Also a young and fresh Mirna Loy, joins Charles Ruggles and Charles Butterworth in the supporting roles.
This film should be included in any collection of the discriminating movie fan.
Blending wonderful music, witty words and first-rate performances, director Rouben Mamoulian created in LOVE ME TONIGHT a superlative concoction which will delight any discriminating aficionado of early movie musicals. With remarkable naturalism & refinement, Mamoulian weaves the songs into the fabric of the film, managing to highlight the best of them with great gusto, while still displaying some delicate touches of his own. The opening sequence of an awakening Paris and the gradual orchestration of sounds, followed immediately by the integration of the first song into a quick walk along a busy street, is a case in point. The viewer knows instantly that the director is in charge and has everything well in hand--which leads to one's wondering what kind of a Land of Oz Paramount Studios must have been in the early 1930's with both Mamoulian and Ernest Lubitsch working on the lot...
Maurice Chevalier exudes Gallic joie de vivre as the honest tailor whose extraordinary charm & talent beguiles a bevy of blue bloods. Effortlessly dominating his every scene, he exhibits the over-sized personality which put him into the rarefied stratum of the top performers (Baker, Coward, Robeson) of his generation. Lovely Jeanette MacDonald once again is the perfect romantic partner for Chevalier. A fine actress as well as an excellent singer, she throws herself into the film's farcical atmosphere and lends her celebrated voice to the musical proceedings.
Jeanette's château is populated by a gaggle of expert character performers: stern old Sir C. Aubrey Smith as the ducal head of the house; gently daffy Charlie Ruggles as an improvident vicomte; elegant Myrna Loy as a young amorous countess; and Elizabeth Patterson, Ethel Griffies & Blanche Frederici as the Aunties--slyly depicted as either a trio of benevolent witches or a pack of excited puppies. Soft-spoken Charles Butterworth plays the timid count who wishes to marry Miss MacDonald. Joseph Cawthorn is the no-nonsense family doctor. Rotund Robert Greig portrays the château's imposing major-domo.
Movie mavens will recognize sour-faced Clarence Wilson as a shirtmaker; Ethel Wales as a temperamental dressmaker; and Edgar Norton as a valet--all uncredited.
Except for the sadly vulgar--albeit tongue-in-cheek--apache tune, the rest of Rodgers & Hart's music is very entertaining, especially the two most famous numbers: 'Isn't It Romantic' (begun in Paris by Chevalier, and traveling by taxi, train, marching soldiers and gypsies it eventually reaches MacDonald on her balcony) and 'Mimi,' sung first by Maurice to Jeanette, but eventually echoed, hilariously, by many of the inhabitants of the château).
Sumptuous production values and costumes by Edith Head add greatly to the film's overall quality.
It's not a musical with big dance acts, feather costumes, or anything of that sort but just a movie that happens to feature songs in it, which is the sort of musical approach I prefer. The characters would often burst into singing in the middle of the movie, which of course sounds totally ridicules but it's so charming and the songs are so nice that it attributes to what it is that makes this movie so irresistible, joyful and entertaining to watch. This is really not the sort of movie you would expect from the guy who had previously directed "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" before this movie.
Maurice Chevalier didn't had the best signing voice, also of course due to his accent and also especially compared to different genre actors from the same time period. Same goes for most of the actors within this movie. But I sort of like that he isn't perfect in his signing. It seems to fit the movie and its style.
The movie has got some nice cheerful innocent humor in it. The great fun but of course simple written script, contributes to the whole fun feeling and atmosphere of the movie.
The movie doesn't necessarily really has a typical '30's style and more seems ahead of its time. It also makes this movie feel less outdated than most others, especially from the same genre, movies.
The cinematography is really amazing at times. It moves a lot, with pans and also zooms. It makes the cinematography in parts pretty original and innovating for its time. The movie also features some other 'tricks', such as split-screen and slow-motion, among other things. Perhaps this has to do with the Russian origin of director Rouben Mamoulian. His style seems more innovating than most of his fellow Hollywood colleagues from the same time period. It all adds to the atmosphere and unique quality of the movie. It of course also helps that the movie is set in France and Paris. It always has been the best backdrop for these sort of movies. There also was obviously put some effort and money into the sets of the movie.
Some real quality entertainment! This is as good as they can get.
Is it the greatest movie musical of all time? It may well be and that would even include "Singing in the Rain" but I wouldn't want to make a choice and I don't think anyone has to.
Rodgers and Hart were at their peak here though they did equally fine things later on. But certainly "Isn't it Romantic", "Mimi" (though more of a specialty for Maurice), and "Lover" are standards in anyone's book. The story, though typically silly, is treated in such a way that it is elevated to at least a serviceable level.
The "Western Electric Noiseless Recording" process is just that though one would hardly confuse it with modern Dolby stereo.
The supporting cast is equally excellent including the Charleses Ruggles and Butterworth as well as Myrna Loy who had a much solider screen persona later on (Thin Man series and "Best Years of Our Lives") though she's fine here as a man-chaser.
Many of the original innuendos remain intact but others were censored later for rerelease and they were lost. But screenplay excerpts of these are given on the video.
The Kino DVD is well done but since the library copy I saw was a little damaged, I was not able to watch all of the comments by Miles Kreuger, an associate of Reuben Mamoulian's in later years.
10 out of 10.
Chevalier is a tailor who made the mistake of making a complete wardrobe for Ruggles a supposedly wealthy aristocrat. Ruggles owes him a lot (as well as all the other people who made parts of the clothing for Ruggles - at Chevalier's recommendation). So they send him after Ruggles, who has gone to his rich uncle's home in the country. This is C. Aubrey Smith, a reactionary old Duke. He is also the protector of Princess Jeanette, now a widow (don't feel bad for her, as Dr. Joseph Cawthorn finds out). Also staying with the Duke is Count Charles Butterworth, a scholarly aristocrat (and just as hesitant and bumbling in his delivery of dialog here as in other films, but here his comments are funny). Finally there is Smith's niece, Myrna Loy, who never saw a pair of men's pants that she did not care to open.
Chevalier's appearance is an embarrassment to Ruggles, who may be disinherited by Smith over his debts. So he keeps Chevalier from admitting that he is a tailor, and finally suggests that Chevalier is a king traveling incognito. As Chevalier and MacDonald slowly fall in love, the suspicion that he is a monarch makes him possibly a perfect match for the widowed Princess. Chevalier also enlivens the dull château with his songs (including an "Apache" number, as well as "Mimi" which everyone ends up singing - including C. Aubrey Smith!). But what would happen if the truth comes out? That is what leads to the conclusion of the film.
Many of the early surviving films of the 1930s are cut from what they originally were like. And the film that was cut is usually lost forever. In the case of LOVE ME TONIGHT, the loss is truly sad because of the quality of the film that survives. But at least we do have that surviving footage to marvel at and enjoy.
Love Me Tonight is the third and best collaboration with leads Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. Chevalier is but a poor tailor, the best at his craft who's just completed a big order for a rakish nobleman played by Charlie Ruggles. Ruggles is also a deadbeat who's stiffed half the merchants of Paris and they've appointed Chevalier a committee of one to settle the accounts. Off goes Chevalier to the countryside to get Ruggles to cough up.
Ruggles is mooching off his titled uncle C. Aubrey Smith and while nobility has been formally abolished in France, it's still held in regard in class conscious Europe. When Maurice gets to Smith's palatial digs, he also finds another cousin in Jeanette MacDonald and she falls big for him of course. And Ruggles not wanting to seem more of a deadbeat and a moocher than C. Aubrey Smith already thinks he is, introduces Chevalier as another titled fellow.
Two other main characters get into this mix. Charles Butterworth who is also a titled person and would like to marry Jeanette. Of course Butterworth isn't her romantic ideal, like he'd be anybody's. And Jeanette has a lady in waiting in Myrna Loy who's also got her eye on Maurice.
There are many who consider this the best musical ever made. It certainly was years ahead of its time. In fact Maurice and Jeanette were fortunate to also have Ernst Lubitsch directing their other features because they too were considered way ahead of their time and helped their careers along immensely.
One reason for the success of Love Me Tonight is the score written by Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart, probably their best film score. When you've got such classics as Isn't It Romantic, Lover, and Mimi all in the same film, you can't miss.
One should also hear Chevalier's RCA recording of Mimi. It was one of the staple songs of his career. The record however has an interlude as Maurice reminisces about all the other girls he's sung about like Louise, Valentina, Mitzi, and his fabulous Love Parade. But no doubt about it, Mimi tops them all. I wish he could have used those lyrics in the film.
As for Lover this is a case of a hit song becoming far bigger in revival. Jeanette sings it on screen, but I would safely venture that more people identify the song with Peggy Lee and hit record she made of it in the Fifties. In fact a lot of her contemporaries also started recording it during that decade and Lover had a new burst of popularity then.
What amazes me about Rouben Mamoulian is that here was a man who directed such things as Oklahoma, Carousel, Lost In The Stars and Porgy and Bess on stage and then could go to the screen and do classics like Love Me Tonight, Blood and Sand, The Mark Of Zorro, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. This man had a complete sense of the cinema, if you find any staged awkwardness in any of his films, I'm not aware of it. The staging of Isn't It Romantic where Maurice and all his neighbors and friends join in and then switching to Jeanette expressing her longing for real romance is perfect. As is the hunting scene which is something that could never be contemplated doing on stage. And Maurice saving the stag probably got him a lifetime appreciation award from PETA.
Love Me Tonight after almost 80 years still holds up well and it's a great opportunity for young people today to see and appreciate the lost art of the film musical.
Liked Chevalier in this particularly. I agree with the reviewer who finds Jeannette McDonald's singing a bit of a trial. I don't care for most opera type singing. Get ready for some corn here: Was reminded of something Andy Griffith said about opera singing (from a comic recording), "Some people say opera is just hollerin', and it is; but it's high class hollerin'." It comes across that way to me. That quote may offend the cinematic detail oriented enthusiasts of this film - sorry.
However, I have enjoyed a few old operettas, thinking of "Sweet Kitty Bellairs" from 1930 featuring Claudia Dell and Walter Pidgeon. Ms. Dell was easier on the ears than Ms. McDonald. Pidgeon's singing was pleasing, and I found the piece entertaining.
In watching C. Aubrey Smith in this, I thought for the umpteenth time whether he was born an old man. He is always ancient in every movie I have ever seen with him. Actually, his Hollywood films were done in his elderly years. Finally looked him up and found he was born in 1863. Wow. He did London stage, Broadway and came to Hollywood much later. He died in California at age 85.
This is a good film and has interest for its genre. It is probably my favorite Chevalier. It was odd seeing Charles Ruggles in this. They were talking about Myrna Loy during the intro to the movie, saying this film may have begun her being used in something other than the Oriental evil women or vamp types. Only a few people were making the decisions on casting back then in the studio system, and thankfully, they finally broke her out of that old mold and began to find out how engaging she was as a wife and later as a comedienne.
Among many things, I love the slang given for comic effect to French aristocrats - as in the song, "the son of a gun is nothing but a tailor". It's just extraordinarily funny.
I watched this back to back with the sweet, innocent and lovely State Fair last night. To think that Richard Rodgers did the music for such different kinds of projects is amazing.
And even to think that Hollywood turned out both movies within a fairly short interval shows the astonishing breadth of Hollywood at the time. From Stagecoach to It Happened One Night, from Little Caesar to The Philadelphia Story, from 42nd Street to Citizen Kane, The Wizard of Oz to Gone with the Wind, Casablanca to Curly Top - all produced within a decade of each other.
Just geniuses at work - and a diversity of talent that is simply astonishing: a place that showcased the incredibly varied appeal of both Roy Rogers and Fred Astaire, a Myrna Loy, a Jean Harlow and a Johnny Weismuller, a Marlene Dietrich and a Shirley Temple, Judy Garland and George Raft, Robert Benchley and Charles Boyer, a Greta Garbo and a Marjorie Main. What a place!
This movie is very much a masterpiece.
When Maurice (Chevalier) a tailor decides to collect on a debt owed him by a near do well aristocrat he crashes the family compound. He is persuaded by the deadbeat to impersonate one of their lineage in order to secure payment instead of getting them both tossed from the mansion. He is quickly besotted by Princess Jeanette who is less than thrilled with him at first but falls prey to his seductive ways before being jolted by the fact he is a commoner.
While Chevalier and Mc Donald duet delightfully throughout in song and patter (especially in a scene where he fits her for a riding outfit ) Mamoulian does a fine job of skewering the upper crust leisure class at play with some comic choreography and a supporting cast displaying a variety of snobbery, entitlement and a touch of pixalation. A trio of timid aunts scurry about fretting in unison, the family patriarch played by C. Aubrey Smith bangs out a stanza of Mimi, even the hired help gets in on the condescension.
As early sound musicals go Love Me Tonight remains one of the best with Chevalier at his peak and Mac Donald on the crest of hers. It has wit in addition to some wonderfully delivered tunes and in flashes, moments that foreshadow Rules of the Game seven years away. Above all though it is an excellent entertainment that nearly eighty years down the road still retains a fresh energy.
DOUG: We put this movie on our agenda because of its song, "Isn't it Romantic?" which made the AFI's Top 100 Songs list. I'm rather glad we did, since it's the first real musical on the odyssey. It's also an excellent look at the great romancin' French gentleman actor Maurice Chevalier. It's the first time we've seen Chevalier for real (we caught a glimpse of his picture in the Marx Brothers' Monkey Business). In researching Chevalier and the Marx Brothers, I found that none of the brothers is tall enough to pass himself off as Chevalier. We have here a film about the old class boundary: Young heiress Jeanette (Jeanette MacDonald) suffers from fainting spells and overprotective relatives, and needs a husband (hey, it's a 30's romance, go with it) her own age, but her Dad keeps trying to set her up with these rich old geezers. Fortunately, along comes Maurice, a tailor who is mistaken for a baron and falls in love with Jeanette. I love, LOVE the scene with Maurice and Jeanette under the tree, when they're telling each other they love each other. There's a lot of odd whimsy in the movie; What's with the scene where Jeanette's aunts are making that witch's brew to cure her fainting spells? Myrna Loy pops up (two years before The Thin Man), and she's quite a pleasure, but we don't see nearly enough of her. Whenever I need to remember what a French accent sounds like, I can just think of Chevalier's voice. If you'd like to have an idea of who Maurice Chevalier was, you might as well start with Love Me Tonight.
KEVIN: Five years after the "birth" of sound film and Hollywood has finally established a mastery of music in film. I looooooooooooooooved this movie. I give it 4 out of 5, only because it's not quite memorable enough to garner that fifth star. We have another case of mistaken identity as Maurice Chevalier plays a tailor who poses as a Baron. The first thing I noticed about Chevalier is that he has the best French accent ever. I can't wait to see more of him in Lubitsch's The Merry Widow. Chevalier was 43 at the time, but he doesn't look a day over 35. I enjoyed the randomness of the musical scenes, like in a scene straight out of MacBeth where Jeanette's aunts make a remedy for their niece's fainting spells. My favorite song was "Mimi" the way it's so sweet sounding, yet so very naughty. Director Rouben Mamoulian does some more cool stuff here that seems more at home in a musical than in Jekyll & Hyde. He uses close ups, superimposed images and other cool tricks to advance the emotion of the love story. He also makes every musical scene different. Such as the reprise of "Love Me Tonight" when we just see Maurice and Jeanette sleeping while the song plays and their voices profess their love for each other. Myrna Loy is a pleasure, except for the fact that she doesn't do anything! And for the record, the Marx brothers don't look like Maurice Chevalier.
Last film: Movie Crazy (1932). Next film: Blonde Venus (1932).
When I was finally able to see it, I realized that the plaudits were more than deserved. Although I was never a huge Maurice Chevalier fan, he is perfect for this role. Jeanette MacDonald, too, is funny and lovely (especially in her camisole, thanks to the pre-production code date!). Finally, the music of Richard Rodgers ("Isn't It Romantic") adds the final touch of excellence to what is overall one of the great films of all time.
Well, this movie is like a caricature of love. Suddenly the whole world around you starts to sing (the Isn't it romantic sequence in the beginning of the movie), you do the craziest things for the loved one while not realizing how nutty you actually are ('Let me sing for you!'), and even the movie is placed in a fabled castle, but who doesn't feel like living in one while being in love?
Chevalier was perfect as the Parisian tailor and I've always thought that there's something really calming about his timbre. This is my first Jeanette McDonald movie, but she was absolutely gorgeous in this one, and has a nice soprano range. And of course the one who made me watch this 'very crazy movie', Myrna Loy in the type of role I've never seen her in before. She had some of the funniest lines in the picture and was adorable and fresh as ever.
The songs were all superb, I especially loved Isn't it romantic?, Mimi & of course Love Me Tonight.
What can I say, not a typical movie, but if you're once captured by its spell...a 10/10 romance for me.
I'll just add some comments on specific things in the movie. So many of these songs became part of Chevalier's Gallic repertoire, it's hard to believe they were actually written by Rodgers and Hart. And, Mammoulian was apparently still working out how to present musical interludes in a movie. Having Chevalier sing "Mimi" right into the camera didn't work, I'm afraid; his expressions as he tries to pitch woo to the lens make him appear kind of sappy. Interesting experiment, though, on the title number, where Maurice and Jeanette simply sleep through "Love Me Tonight" while it plays, apparently in their dreams.
I had to go find out what Chevalier's costume and song "The Poor Apache" (pronounced Ah-Pej) referred to. For everyone's enlightenment: an Apache was a French "underworld" character, a tough, a yegg, or more often a pimp. There was a scandalous "Apache Dance" of the time in which the man, playing the Apache, would demand money from his girl, then slap her around quite a bit. It has been performed or parodied in other movies, possibly "An American in Paris," and a few cartoons. Whether they got the name from the Apache Indians, I couldn't find out, but interesting that the French missile system was called the "Apache."
Oh, and nice catch by the previous commentator that the three sewing spinsters suggested the knitting ladies before the guillotine. I just thought of them as the three Fates, spinning the threads of the characters' lives, but the previous image fits better.
"I went to see Maurice Chevalier tonight in his latest, 'Love Me Tonight'. Say, I have more technique than that guy, any night. He is losing all he had, can I give him pointers?".
I had to correct some spellings errors in the quote, otherwise IMDb wouldn't accept it. Pity. That way it loses a bit of the flavor and intention of a "Quote"
I take it that my Dad liked the movie.
The obvious career move for Rouben Mamoulian after directing "Dr Jeckyl"? - I don't think so but maybe Mamoulian may have gotten stale if he had directed something similar. He is not stale here, with his touches enhancing and not detracting from the impact of the movie.
Certainly it is slightly flawed and dated in parts as some have commented but there is genius and magic in it that make for an enchanting movie. This is something I desire in movies but only rarely get. This is the best commendation that I can give - and nothing more I need to say.
Chevalier the tailor goes after Ruggles of the nouveau poor for the money owed him, meeting with Mimi MacDonald and her ancient noble family and servants along the way. Of the Paramount 1932 classic quartet - the others being Trouble In Paradise, One Hour With You and Blonde Venus, I'd perhaps rate this as the weakest, but that's only because personally I've always had a problem with the class relationships and arrogant snobbery displayed. It hasn't stopped me watching it probably over 10 times over the years and enjoying it immensely every time, but my only gripe remains that although the class divide is overcome at the end for the main characters, it certainly isn't for the rest of the cast. The whole family would still be as transfixed with snobbery as before, the whole pack of hounds would still get on horses and go forth laughing to kill deer with dogs.
Altogether this film is an enriching experience for discerning people who like artistic achievements with a small "a", those who don't like violence to any degree or films with a "Message", who remember what the word "charming" means, and who like me can understand and get over the snobbery angle and enjoy an expertly crafted piece of entertainment.