Monday, January 25, 2016

Tonight's Movie: New Moon (1940) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy create movie musical magic in NEW MOON (1940). It's part of the Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy Collection, Volume Two, available from the Warner Archive.

NEW MOON must surely rank as one of MacDonald and Eddy's very best films, thanks in no small part to a superb Romberg-Hammerstein score, which includes "Stout-Hearted Men," "Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise," and "Lover Come Back to Me." Add in the stars at their most engaging, flirting like mad, and NEW MOON is wonderful fun.

This is one of the films I fondly recall seeing at the Vagabond Theater in the '70s. I vividly recall how the black and white movie sparkled and shimmered as they sang; for all I know, the 35mm print might have been nitrate, as were some others I saw as a young teen. Either way, it made an indelible impression, and my enjoyment seeing it again tonight was mixed with a happy nostalgia thinking back on that first special viewing.

The story of NEW MOON is fairly easy to confuse with NAUGHTY MARIETTA (1935), as in both Jeanette plays a French aristocrat who sets sail for New Orleans.

Nelson plays a bondsman purchased to work as a footman at her estate, but he ends up leading a revolution of sorts...well, the plot doesn't matter too much, except that Nelson loves Jeanette and Jeanette loves Nelson, but Jeanette can't admit it for the longest time! They spar and sing, sing and spar, and it's simply lovely.

Jeanette and Nelson's duet of "Lover, Come Back to Me" near the end of the film is one of my all-time favorite musical sequences. I remember THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT! (1974) lightly making fun of the sequence ("Charles, you can't fight the whole French fleet!") but there's a certain innocence to its straightforward playing which I find both charming and moving, and the music is so exquisite it brings tears to my eyes. I'll be putting in my DVD regularly just to enjoy this scene again. In fact, I think I'll do that as soon as I post this!

The supporting cast includes Mary Boland, George Zucco, H.B. Warner, Grant Mitchell, and Dick Purcell.

NEW MOON was directed by Robert Z. Leonard and the uncredited W.S. Van Dyke, which flips the roles they played on SWEETHEARTS (1938).

The movie was filmed in black and white by William Daniels and the uncredited Oliver T. Marsh. Jeanette's lovingly detailed gowns were designed by Adrian. The film runs 105 minutes.

NEW MOON is a beautiful print. The disc includes the trailer.

I've previously reviewed another film in this set, SWEETHEARTS (1938). In the future I'll be reviewing the additional films in the collection, BITTER SWEET (1940), and I MARRIED AN ANGEL (1942), along with the other films in the Volume One collection.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


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