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Love Me Tonight (1932)


Parce-que je suis FRANCAIS!
Parce-que je suis FRANCAIS!

Genre: Musical Comedy Romance 

Starring: Maurice Chevalier (GigiLove in the Afternoon), Jeanette MacDonald (The Merry WidowSan Francisco)

Directed By: Rouben Mamoulian (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) • Queen Christina

Overview: When a tailor visits a royal chateau to get his payment, he must stay and pose as a Baron until the Viscount can muster up his cash.

When I settled in to Footlight Parade (1933), I knew I was doing it for the sake of 'The Study'. Gee, it's like I just somehow KNEW that a 1930s choreography-intense Musical just wouldn't be my bag, but I watched it because I'm ever a slave to The List. But I was impressed. James Cagney is a Glorious Black and White presence on screen, Busby Berkeley is a name to note what with his truly epic choreography sequences, and the famous song "By A Waterfall" has this film as its source. All these things in one movie add just that bit of historical context that fill a few cultural puzzle pieces in the landscape of my mind as to what mattered once and still trickles down through to this day.

In a similar fashion I was pleasantly entertained by with Love Me Tonight.

Maurice Chevalier is one of those names that tickles the synapses with recognition. The über-popular song "Isn't It Romantic?" is one we all know and to learn that it has its roots in this film gives that 'historical context' joy, and for as much as Love Me Tonight is not my typical fare, it was still enjoyable.

Love Me Tonight kicks into high gear from the very beginning. We watch as Parisians wake up to a new day. One person appears, sweeping the walk, another comes out, banging dust out of their rug, cobblers sit outside and begin hammering nails into shoe soles. As more people appear, they produce a symphony of sound and rhythm, which immediately served to put my mind at ease as to what the sound quality would be in this early talkie… singy? The story, though standard RomCom fare is not so formulaic as one would expect. Our hero Maurice, a tailor, is looking forward to giving 15 suits to the Viscount Gilbert de Varèze. Sadly the Viscount is nothing more than a royal bum who needs to beg money from the Duke to pay his bills. When Maurice learns this, he decides to head to the chateau as a 'one man revolution' to go get his 65,000 francs back, telling the Viscount "I will not leave without my money". The Viscount replies "then stay until I can get it." From then on Maurice is introduced as a Baron. Turns out there are some regal ladies living at the chateau too, and there's the Romance angle. The film then follows the trend of 'commoner-faking-nobility', but handles it in a far more honest way than the expected bumbling screwball fashion it could easily have led to.

By today's standards Love Me Tonight is melodramatic, and maybe even out of touch but it's still entertaining, and certainly not a chore of the 1001 Movies I Need To See Before I Bite It.

 Musical or BUST!
Musical or BUST!

Performance: 8 Cinematography: 7 Script: 8 Plot: 7 Mood: 7

Overall Rating: 74% (Well, Likeable At Least!)

Looks like my 30s learnin eye is startin to twitch! You might just suffer through a couple more soon enough.

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You should really make time for "Trouble in Bed..." I mean "Trouble in Paradise" (1932) - and discover a great film from when movie makers didn't assume theatergoers were idiots. Discover the "Lubitsch Touch"... you'll want to go back and see all HIS films as well. ;?>

I have it and might even watch it this week! Thanks maverage! That's a nice weight to get the girlfriend to join in!

Watch for a very subtle 'dissolve' effect (in act 1?), and how it moves the story... forward. (I laughed out loud - but I LOVE subtle touches, and this movie is full of them - hence the phrase 'The Lubitsch Touch'.). Enjoy - you won't regret this one.

I love Lubitsch but didn't really enjoy Trouble In Paradise as much as I had hoped. If you like silents you should watch some of his old films from before he came to America. I believe Kino put out a boxset of them called Lubitsch in Berlin.

I too was pleasantly surprised by this one, in sort of the same way I found the much later Demoiselles de Rochefort an unexpected delight. There's a kind of zany lightness to both that is rarely captured on film.

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