Naughty Marietta (1934): Oscar Nominated Operetta Starring Jeannette MacDonald and Eddie Nelson

Eddie Nelson makes an impressive feature debut in the first of the 8 movies that he co-starred with the actress-singer Jeannette MacDonald.

Based on Victor Herbert’s popular stage operetta, “Naughty Marietta” was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, who gave the old production a new look, a new script, and even new lyrics (by Gus Kahn).

MacDonald is well cast as a French princess fleeing the arranged marriage to a Spaniard (Walter Kingsford).  A comedy of mistaken identity, the plot is based on the princess switching places with her maid aboard a ship en route to Louisiana, where the female passengers are fated to become colonial brides.

The ship is attacked by pirates, but the women are saved by a by a bunch of soldiers, headed by Captain Warrington (Eddie Nelson).

The princess fall in love with the Captain, but she continues to conceal her true identity, pretending to be a woman of ill repute.

There is strong chemistry between the two actors, both of whom sing well.  You’ll hear MacDonald’s famous rendition of the “Italian Street Song” and other tunes.

Though nominated for the Best Picture, “Naughty Marietta” is not as good as “The Merry Widow,” which was not nominated.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Picture (produced by Hunt Stromberg)

Sound Recording: Douglas Shearer

Oscar Awards: 1

Sound Recording

Oscar Context:

Naughty Marietta competed for the Best Picture Oscar with eleven other films: Alice Adams, Broadway Melody of 1936, Captain Blood, David Copperfield, The Informer, Les Miserables, Lives of a Bengal Lancer, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Mutiny on the Bounty, Ruggles of Red Gap, and Top Hat.

Mutiny on the Bounty won the Best Picture.


Princess Marie de Namours de la Bonfain, Marietta Franini (Jeanette MacDonald)

Captain Richard Warrington (Eddie Nelson)

Governor Gaspard d’Annard (Frank Morgan)

Madame d’Annard (Elsa Lanchester)

Prince de Namours de la Bonfain (Douglas Dumbrille)

Herr Schuman (Joseph Cawton)

Julie (Cecilia Parker)

Don Carlos de Braganza (Walter Kingsford)

Frau Schuman (Greta Meyer)

Rudolpho, Puppet Master (Akim Tamiroff)



Produced by Hunt Stromberg

D irected by W.S. Van Dyke

Screenplay: John Lee Mahin, Frances Goodrich, and Albert Hackett, based on the operetta by Victor Herbert and Rida Johnson Young

Camera: William Daniels

Editing: Blanche Sewell

Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons

Costumes: Adrian


Running time: 106 Minutes