Merry Widow, The (1934): Lubitsch Oscar-Winning Operetta, Starring Chevalier and Jeannette MacDonald

The “Lubitsch touch” is in full evidence in this charming operetta, which benefits from the star turns of  vet Frenchman Maurice Chevalier and American Jeannette MacDonald.

The small kingdom of Marshovia has a “little” problem. The main tax-payer, the wealthy widow Sonia (Jeannette MacDonald) leaves her Ruritanian homeland for Paris.  As a result, the King commissions Prince Danilo (Maurice Chevalier) to follow her to Paris in order to stop her from getting married by a stranger, so that the danger of removing the money is banned. But wooing Sonia and bring her back home is not as easy as the politicos had planned or expected.

This enjoyable version of Franz Lehar’s musical added new tunes by Richard Rodgers and new lyrics by Gus Kahn and Lorenz Hart.

Made during the first year of the Production Code, “Merry Widow” was retouched by the studio in the editing room as the PCA found the material too risque, particularly the segments delaing with “French immorality.”

Fortunately, the negative of the film remained intact, so you can get Luitch’s original vision in the video and DVD versions.

This was the last teaming of Chavelier and MacDonald, who did not get along, due to the film’s commercial failure.   The studio then chose another actor, Nelson Eddie, for its suinging star, and the two became very popular with audiences of the Depression.

The movie was poorly remade by MGM in 1952 in a color version, directed by Curtis Bernahrdt  and starring Lana Turner and fernando Lamas (both miscast)

Oscar Nominations: 1

Interior Decoration: Cedric Gibons nd frderic Hope

Oscar Awards: 1

Interior Decoration

Cast

Prince Danilo (Maurice Chevalier)

Sonia (Jeannette MacDonald)

Ambassador Popff (Edward Everett Horton)

Queen Dolorex (Una Merkel)

King Achmed (George Barbier)

Marcelle (Minna Gombell)

Lulu (Ruth Channing)

Credits

 

Unrated

Running Time: 99 Minutes

Release date: November 2, 1934

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