December 15th, 1998

(no subject)

Love Me Tonight (1932) 1:44
directed by Rouben Mamoulian

songs by Rodgers and Hart
starring Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Charles Butterworth, Charles Ruggles, Myrna Loy, C. Aubrey Smith, Elizabeth Patterson

This movie is just great. I find myself returning to it again and again; this was easily the sixth or seventh time I've watched this movie this year. More, if you count all the times I've popped it into the VCR just to hear one of the songs.

I think synopsizing the plot for myself is a pretty pointless task, as I don't think I shall ever forget. This movie just stays with you so long, and becomes carried around inside, and for a time you are able to spontanesouly make yourself happy by simply thinking of one of the songs (although some more than others) and then all of a sudden happen to find yourself singing the words out loud. And the music and visuals are so sublimely interlaced that if you are able to recall the lyrics to a particular song, more or less in their entirety, it also means that you can recall, with near photographic accuracy, the sequences taht are used in conjunction with the music.

The movie has two things going for it, in overwhelming abundance: charm and class. As a matter of fact, it's got everything going for it: good acting, a funny script, a charmingly continental directorial presence, and maddeningly catchy songs. It's simply dazzling, and not merely in a glitzy, sugary Hollywood way either, it takes you in, picks you up, and holds you for the entire running time, leaving you in a good mood. I cannot think of the tiniest complaint to lodge against it. Even Maurice Chevalier, who, in my wildest imaginations, wasn't anyone I ever thought I'd find myself liking, I am thoroughly bewitched by.

And Myrna Loy. How I love Myrna Loy. She only has a small small part here, but every second she's on the screen is just magic, pure and simple. Talk about bewitching. Perhaps I myself am a bit too smitten to objectively judge her performance, but then again I think I must be infatuated so because of what a talented comic actress she is. And so totally hot.

While I happen to think that 'Isn't It Romantic?' is the catchiest tune, they really all are. Catchy, that is. And really funny too. 'The Song of Paris' is a neat little tune, cute stuff. The 'Mimi' song is goofy and charming. Later when we find out Jeanette needs to get laid bad, in the scene with the doctor, the 'Quite Right, At Night' song, which is a really funny scene, with the very funny line from the doctor: 'You're not wasting away... you're just wasted.'

Both scenes, both songs, 'Mimi' and 'Quite Right, At Night' take place as simple exchanges, conversations really, even though in 'Mimi' Maurice does all the talking and we only get Jeanette's reaction shots, but the whole scene is shot like that (whole song, rather), in separation, like simple, unextravagant dialogue might be shot. Same thing for the 'Quite Right, At Night' scene, which is a bit more complicated in terms of shots. The numbers do run the gamut in terms of production, too: from the sprawling, travelling 'Isn't it Romantic?' and the castle cross-section of 'Nothing But a Tailor' to 'Mimi' which could only be simpler if Mamoulian had put the camera on Maurice for the entire song and just left it running, without cuts--and Mamoulian makes both kinds of numbers work wonderfully.