Bitter Sweet (1940): Starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy

Noel Coward’s operetta 1940 “Bitter Sweet,” the second version of the piece, was remade by MGM into a star vehicle for Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, then at the height of their careers.

Set in late 19th century Vienna circa 1870s,, this romantic tale depicts the relationship between music teacher Carl Linden (Nelson Eddy) and his prize pupil Sarah Milick (MacDonald).


Eloping with Sarah, Carl writes an operetta that would showcase her particular talents.  It’s a success and Sarah goes to fame, fortune, and glory.  But Carl does not live long enough to see Sarah’s triumphs.


For her part, Sarah is determined to keep his memory—and legacy for ever,


Shot in Technicolor, the film received two Oscar nominations, though won none.


The operetta contains many popular tunes.  Among the reliable characters in the supporting cast are George Sanders, Felix Bresart, Sig Ruman, and Herman Bing as a Viennese shopkeeper.


Oscar Nominations: 2


Cinematography (Color): Oliver T. Marsh and Allen Davey


Interior Decoration (color): Cedric Gibbons and John S. Detlie


Oscar Awards: None


Oscar Context:


“The Thief of Bagdad” won Color Cinematography for George Perinal and Color Art Direction for Vincent Korda.






Running time: 94 Minutes.


Directed by: W.S. Van Dyke


Screenplay: Lesser Samuels


Released January 1, 1940.





Jeanette MacDonald a Sarah Millick


Nelson Eddy Carl Linden


George Sanders as Baron Von Tranisch


Ian Hunter as Lord Shayne


Felix Bressart as Max


Edward Ashley as Harry Daventry


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