Friday, November 27, 2020

Tonight's Movie: Love Me Tonight (1932) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

One of the really great musicals and pre-Codes, LOVE ME TONIGHT (1932), is now available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.

I first made the acquaintance of this film as a teenager when my family audited a musicals course at UC Irvine.  I've never forgotten how delighted and entranced I was by my first viewing.  I was later fortunate to see it in 35mm at the Vagabond Theater in Los Angeles, where I had many great classic movie experiences in the late '70s and early '80s.

I'm a very "spoiler-friendly" viewer, but this film is such a treasure to watch as it unspools that it almost seems like a shame to say much about it.  If at all possible I recommend a classic film fan who's not yet seen the movie approach it "cold" and delight in the superb cast, wonderful set pieces, hilarious (and sometimes risque) dialogue, and marvelous Rodgers & Hart score.

LOVE ME TONIGHT is a comedic fairy tale in which Maurice (Maurice Chevalier), a Parisian tailor, travels to a castle in the countryside to collect a sizeable debt from his client, Viscount  Gilbert de Vareze (Charlie Ruggles).

Gilbert needs to buy time to get the money from his uncle, the Duke (Sir C. Aubrey Smith), and asks Maurice to stay at the castle for a few days, but passes him off as a baron since the Duke hates tradespeople.

Maurice meets Gilbert's relative, the restless Princess Jeanette (Jeanette MacDonald), a 22-year-old widow previously married to an elderly man and currently being courted by hapless Count de Savignac (Charles Butterworth).  

Maurice and the very proper Jeanette initially tangle, but she gradually unbends and they fall in love.  But will it matter when she finds out that "the son of a gun is nothing but a tailor"?

There is so much joy to be found in this film, beginning with the opening sequence of Paris coming to life in the morning and continuing soon after with the famed staging of "Isn't It Romantic?"  The song, which never fails to move and enchant me, begins in Maurice's tailor shop, passed from person to person -- even sung by a marching army! -- until the Princess in the countryside hears the song and begins singing it, magically connected to the man she hasn't yet met but will soon come to love. 

The movie has one of the great supporting casts ever, with Ruggles, Smith, and Butterworth joined by the young Myrna Loy as man-hungry Countess Valentine; when asked if she could go for a doctor, Valentine replies "Yes, bring him right in!"  

The screenplay is filled with gems like that, another favorite being "Madame Dutoit has been insulted" and the always rib-tickling, droll Butterworth responding "At her age?  Remarkable."  We even get Smith singing a bit of "Mimi," which is quite fun.

I also love the three aunts (Elizabeth Patterson, Ethel Griffies, and Blanche Frederici), who comment on the unfolding action and give the movie much of its fairy tale element, including casting a spell. They seem to foreshadow the three good fairies of another Disney animated film -- my favorite -- SLEEPING BEAUTY (1959).  As a matter of fact, some of the scenes also seem to have influenced another favorite Disney animated musical, BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991).

Chevalier and MacDonald are a marvelous team; they made three other excellent films together, all with director Ernst Lubitsch, including the marvelous THE MERRY WIDOW (1934) -- but LOVE ME TONIGHT remains my favorite, a blissful 89 minutes.

LOVE ME TONIGHT was directed by Rouben Mamoulian and filmed by Victor Milner.  The costumes were designed by greats Travis Banton and Edith Head.

Kino Lorber's Blu-ray, from a brand-new 4K master, looks and sounds as good as one might hope.  

It carries over an audio commentary by Miles Kreuger from Kino's DVD release of years ago, along with a couple of song excerpts.  The disc also includes production and censorship document galleries, screenplay excerpts of deleted scenes, the trailer, and a trailer for another Mamoulian film available from Kino Lorber, SONG OF SONGS (1933).

LOVE ME TONIGHT is pure movie joy, and the Kino Lorber Blu-ray is highly recommended.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger said...

I first saw this on KLCS Channel 58 in Los Angeles market boy did need restoration even in the 1980s LOL!

4:48 PM  
Blogger dfordoom said...

I haven't seen this one but I've seen a few other Maurice Chevalier musicals. I adored THE LOVE PARADE. I'm still not quite sure about Chevalier but I do like Jeanette MacDonald.

4:33 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's a great memory of Ch. 58! What fun you saw it there.

If you loved THE LOVE PARADE I can guarantee you'll love LOVE ME TONIGHT. (I know what you mean about Chevalier, I love his early musicals and especially Jeanette, but while he's great in these movies and I love them, at the same time I don't find him a very romantic leading man. It's kind of a conundrum!)

Best wishes,

10:17 AM  

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