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USA 1932
Directed by
Rouben Mamoulian
89 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Love Me Tonight

For its day Love Me Tonight is a very stylish film with all manner of cinematic flourishes (it was the first film to use a zoom lens). The film opens with a catchy sequence of Paris awakening to a gradually building percussive number which introduces us to Maurice Chevalier as a happy-go-lucky tailor. Chevalier immediately breaks into the first of the smart Rodgers and Hart songs, ‘Song of Paree’, before kicking off  a bravura rendition of ‘Isn’t It Romantic’ which is sung/performed successively by a customer, a taxi driver, a musician, a group of soldiers and a gypsy violinist, before finding itself on the lips of Jeanette MacDonald as Princess Jeanette, a young widow trapped in the chateau of her elderly uncle (C. Aubrey Smith). 

The chateau becomes the locus of the ensuing story as Maurice arrives to try to collect an unpaid debt from the wayward and impecunious Vicomte de Vareze (Charles Ruggles). Maurice has already fallen in love with Jeanette who he encountered on the way to the chateau (an encounter in which MacDonald sings “Lover” and Chevalier sings, rather irrelevantly it must be said, “Mimi”, a number which recurs charmingly later in the film. After some ups and downs the inevitable comes to pass in a dramatic finale. The script has quite a bit of fun with some pre-code risqué business much of it coming from Myrna Loy who plays a nymphomaniacal friend of the Princess.

Mamoulian’s work is often with justice compared to that of Ernst Lubitsch for its style and wit. As if in recognition of this Chevalier and MacDonald would re-team three years later for Lubitsch’s version of ‘The Merry Widow’.

FYI: For its post-Production code re-release the film was bowdlerized and the deleted footage has since been lost.




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