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Victor Florescu is a talented, Brussels-based composer of serious music under the tutelage of respected Professor Bertier at the Music Conservatory. He is hoping to have his yet uncompleted operetta, "The Cat and the Fiddle", produced by famed impresario, Jules Daudet. Victor's focus in life changes when he meets Shirley Sheridan, a New Yorker just arrived in Brussels, she who moves into the pensione next to his own. He falls in love at first sight with her. She is also a composer - of the type of music more often heard in Tin Pan Alley - and is hoping to study with Professor Bertier. But it is Victor who helps her with her music. She also catches the attention of Daudet, who publishes her music although he is more interested in her as a woman. Regardless, she becomes rich and famous, and is required to move to Paris. In the short term, Victor, who moves to Paris with her, is more than willing to forgo his own musical aspirations to help her. But Victor is forced to choose between ...Written by
Between her first film at MGM which was her last with Maurice Chevalier, Merry Widow, and Naughty Marietta which was the debut film of her partnership with Nelson Eddy, Jeanette MacDonald did a film adaption of Jerome Kern's and Otto Harbach's Broadway show The Cat and the Fiddle. She co-starred with Ramon Novarro and while the results were interesting and entertaining there was no demand for more MacDonald/Novarro screen pairings.
The Cat and the Fiddle ran for 365 performances during the 1931-1932 season, something of a miracle for a show to run that long. Most of the score remained intact from the Broadway show. Some big hits for the Kern-Harbach team that came out of that show were She Didn't Say Yes, The Night Was Made for Love, I Like to Watch the Love Parade, and Try to Forget all sung nicely enough by Jeanette and/or Ramon.
While Jeanette's career was on the rise, Ramon was on the downhill slide being propelled like a toboggan by Louis B. Mayer. He was living as openly gay a life as a star could back in the day. Right around this time another gay star William Haines was being given the heave ho by MGM and the Code was on the horizon. Novarro would soon be leaving the USA for Europe and his native Mexico.
The plot concerns two music students in Brussels, American Shirley Sheridan and Victor Florescu presumably Rumanian. Like the usual awkward beginning associated with MacDonald/Eddy movies they are soon at work and in love. However producer/impresario Frank Morgan has designs on Jeanette and Ramon has caught the eye of former diva Vivienne Segal.
This was Vivienne Segal's last film in an otherwise disastrous fling in Hollywood. Making her debut in 1915 she was a leading musical comedy star of Broadway and like a whole lot of Broadway players went to Hollywood when pictures began to talk. She didn't fare well at all in her films and in this last film she's supporting Jeanette. But she sings New Love is Old and Well and being The Cat and the Fiddle is out on at least VHS, it is the only way today's fans can see one of Broadway's leading stars.
Funny how situations can be played for either drama or comedy. A bum check is played for laughs in the Marx Brothers film Room Service. Here in The Cat and the Fiddle the plot calls for Novarro to write a bum check in order to keep his show going for five days after Segal's husband pulls her out of the show. That could have been real serious.
Are you curious as to what happens?
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