Monday, March 28, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Rose-Marie (1936) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy make movie magic once again in ROSE-MARIE (1936). ROSE-MARIE is part of the four-movie, four-DVD Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy Collection, Volume One, available from the Warner Archive.

I've previously reviewed NAUGHTY MARIETTA (1935) from this set.

With its "Western" (Northern?) setting, ROSE-MARIE is fairly different from costume pictures like NAUGHTY MARIETTA or Volume II's NEW MOON (1940), and it's also something of a contrast with the somewhat more modern and urban setting of Volume II's SWEETHEARTS (1938).

What it has in common with those films is that it's prime Jeanette and Nelson, with much of it filmed in the great outdoors. When they launch into their famous "Indian Love Call," it's sheer bliss. The beauty of the music and the innocent sweetness of their performances, combined with their genuine affection for one another, makes their duets very moving. I don't mind admitting I teared up when they reprised "Indian Love Call" in the final scene, which is simply exquisite.

Jeanette plays Marie de Flor, a famous Canadian opera singer who abandons her performances and heads to the mountains when she hears her brother John (a young James Stewart) has escaped from prison; she intends to find him and help him in some way.

After being robbed by her guide (George Regas), Marie meets Sergeant Bruce (Eddy), who calls her Rose-Marie. The sergeant is duty-bound to find her brother himself and bring him in, regardless of the love he comes to feel for Rose-Marie.

Much of the film consists of the Mountie and Marie singing while traveling through the woods, with Lake Tahoe standing in for Canada. The 113-minute plot could have moved slightly faster, but one only has to wait a couple of minutes and they start singing again, and what's better than that?

There are also two lengthy opera sequences, from ROMEO AND JULIET and TOSCA, with Allan Jones singing opposite MacDonald. The star of SHOW BOAT (1936), Jones would star opposite MacDonald in THE FIREFLY (1937) the following year.

The cast includes Reginald Owen, Una O'Connor, Alan Mowbray, and Lucien Littlefield. David Niven (billed "Nivens"!) is delightful in his one scene. Among other things, ROSE-MARIE is a great chance to see two future Oscar winners, Stewart and Niven, very early in their careers.

W.S. Van Dyke directed, with photography by William Daniels.

In 1954 MGM dropped the hyphen from the title, changed the plot, and reused the songs in ROSE MARIE, starring Howard Keel, Ann Blyth, and Fernando Lamas.

The MacDonald-Eddy set I received for review consisted of silver-backed pressed discs. The Archive typically presses discs for the initial sales of sets which are expected to sell in large numbers, and the pressed sets are available only from the WBShop, not other vendors. At some point, after the pressed discs run out, the sets will ostensibly then be manufactured on demand.

The ROSE-MARIE disc includes the trailer.

I'll be reviewing the other two films from this set, MAYTIME (1937) and THE GIRL OF THE GOLDEN WEST (1938), in the future, along with two more films from Volume Two.

It's been a great joy rediscovering how much I love Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy thanks to watching their films for the first time in years. Highly recommended.

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.


Blogger dfordoom said...

I've only seen SWEETHEARTS, which I adored. I must catch up with their other movies.

5:58 PM  
Blogger DKoren said...

I used to love this movie but I haven't seen it in years! I mostly remember the Tosca scene, where she keeps hearing the Indian Love Call while trying to sing the end of the opera. Tosca's my favorite opera, so it was great fun to see it in the movie. And I loved young Jimmy Stewart.

I think Maytime was my favorite of their movies, but it also broke my heart. I need to watch all of these again.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

dfordoom, SWEETHEARTS was new to me and I loved it. If you liked that one I think you will enjoy the others I've reviewed, which all have strong points. My favorite is probably NEW MOON, with its sublime "Lover Come Back to Me." That said, I've been humming INDIAN LOVE CALL all day!

Deb, I hadn't seen these films in years and I'd kind of forgotten just how special they are, plus I'm loving the ones I've never seen. I think I've been leery of MAYTIME because I've heard it's sad, but it's also supposed to be really good!

Very much looking forward to watching more MacDonald and Eddy soon.

Best wishes,

8:21 PM  
Blogger mel said...

Laura, don't be leery of MAYTIME.

It is rather sad at the end, but otherwise the whole movie is most enjoyable; the singing is delightful, the adapted music from Tchaikovsky in the operatic sequence is gorgeous and the mood overall is very light-hearted; there's a lot of humor in it. I'm sure that you'll find it a "feel good" movie.

Of all the M-G-M movies Jeanette made, both with Nelson and Allan Jones, MAYTIME is my outright favorite.

I guarantee that you will love it, and you'll want to watch it again and again.

9:55 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks, Mel, you sold me!!

After enjoying ROSE-MARIE so much last night, I feel like I want to watch NEW MOON all over again too! LOL.

Love hearing that you and Deb agree on MAYTIME as your favorite!

Best wishes,

10:17 PM  

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