LOVE ME TONIGHT
(director: Rouben Mamoulian; screenwriters: from the play Tailor in the Château by Paul Armont & Léopold Marchand/Samuel Hoffenstein/George Marion Jr./Waldemar Young; cinematographer: Victor Milner; editors: Rouben Mamoulian/William Shea; music: Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart; cast: Jeanette MacDonald (Princess Jeanette), Maurice Chevalier (Maurice Courtelin a.k.a Baron Courtelin), Charles Ruggles (Vicomte Gilbert de Vareze) , Myrna Loy (Countess Valentine), Charles Butterworth (Count de Savignac), C. Aubrey Smith (Duke d’Artelines), Elizabeth Patterson (First Aunt); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Rouben Mamoulian; Kino Video; 1932)
“Musicals don’t come any better than this madcap one directed by the great Armenian-born Hollywood director Rouben Mamoulian.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Musicals don’t come any better than this madcap one directed by the great Armenian-born Hollywood director Rouben Mamoulian (“Applause”/Golden Boy”/Silk Stockings”). Writers Samuel Hoffenstein, George Marion Jr., and Waldemar Young based it on the play by Paul Armont & Léopold Marchand. Influenced by the satiric treatments and sweeping camera shots of René Clair and of Ernst Lubitsch’s cleverly worded tongue-in-cheek romances that playfully depict fictional kingdoms and make use of lavish sets, costumes and fanciful music. Yet Mamoulian even betters these influential filmmakers he’s been generously compared to by creating a work that is stylishly brilliant while being innovative technically with devices never used before such as zoom shots and freestyle framing methods that kept it unfettered by stage convention. Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart provided a bouncy original score that includes leit motifs and romantic songs that weave right into the story line’s fabric. There are many delightful tunes sung by Chevalier, MacDonald and by the cast, that include “The Song of Paree,” “Isn’t it Romantic,” “Lover,” “Mimi,” “A Woman Needs Something Like That,” “Mimi,” “I’m an Apache,” “Love Me Tonight,” and “The Son-Of-A-Gun is Nothing But A Tailor.”
Maurice Courtelin (Maurice Chevalier) is a happy-go-lucky tailor of modest means who lives in a colorful, noisy and crowded musical working-class neighborhood and the commoner immensely enjoys being a tradesman and a good neighbor. When he’s owed an enormous debt of 63,000 francs by Vicomte Gilbert de Vareze (Charles Ruggles), someone of royalty who has a bad credit report, he journeys by car to where he’s residing at his family’s suburban chateau to collect. On the way over he suffers car trouble while coincidentally the Princess Jeanette (Jeanette MacDonald) also has a breakdown in her carriage in the same spot, and the two unceremoniously meet. Maurice falls in love immediately with the 22-year-old widow, whose best current marital prospect is 72, and they meet again at the chateau of the Duke d’Artelines (C. Aubrey Smith) where Gilbert greets him and implores the tailor not to tell his uncle, the Duke, about the unpaid bill. The goofy Gilbert talks the tailor into giving him a few days to see if he can get a loan, and in the meantime introduces him as his guest, the Baron Courtelin, to the snobbish household. The charming guest easily wins the heart of the loveless Princess and has a tough time fluffing off the amorous advances of Countess Valentine (Myrna Loy). It becomes a question if love can triumph when it’s revealed that he’s merely a tailor and the Princess reacts askance at the news, as do all the aristocrats and servants.
It follows the ‘sleeping beauty’ fairy tale motif but keeps it fresh, witty and sophisticated by having the social opposites find they can bridge the class gap because they are in love. One of the highlights is when the lovers join the others in the chateau to sing the film’s most stirring song “Isn’t it Romantic.”
REVIEWED ON 1/21/2006 GRADE: A+