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Friday, November 15, 2013

Love Me Tonight (1932)

While attempting to collect monies owed by a deadbeat client with a title (Charles Ruggles), a Parisian tailor (Maurice Chevalier) meets a haughty Princess (Jeanette MacDonald) and promptly falls in love. When the deadbeat client introduces the tailor as a Count to the Princess, he reluctantly goes along with the deceit. This sparkling musical comedy is a pure delight. If one hadn't seen Rouben Mamoulian's name as the director, you would swear it was an Ernst Lubitsch film, it's that good. I don't mean to take anything away from Mamoulian who has more than proven himself as an ace in the musical genre. The song score by Richard Rodgers and lyricist Lorenz Hart are witty and charming and includes some of their best work, songs like Isn't It Romantic?, Lover and Mimi. The film's use of music is quite innovative as shown in the Isn't It Romantic? number: Chevalier begins the song which is picked up by different characters and the song travels the country until we see MacDonald singing the song (and this is before they've met) and the dialog is often sung rather than spoken by even the most minor of characters from the maid to the cook. So breezy and brilliant that the film overcomes my intolerance for Maurice Chevalier. MacDonald shows how amusing and sexy she could be (she's half undressed a lot) before MGM got a hold of her and turned her into the Norma Shearer of operetta. With Myrna Loy as a nymphomaniac (when asked if she thinks of anything besides men, she retorts, "Yes, schoolboys"), C. Aubrey Smith, Charles Butterworth, Ethel Griffies and Elizabeth Patterson.

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