Love Me Tonight (1932): 5/5! (Very, very mild spoilers included)
I love everything about this musical starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald.
The film follows Maurice (portrayed by Chevalier, obviously), a Paris tailor who is mistaken as royalty and ends up posing as a baron. He ends up encountering a gaggle of crazy blue-bloods along the way, including Countess Valentine (the always amazing Myrna Loy) and Viscount de Vereze (screwball comedy master Charlie Ruggles).
And most importantly, he meets Princess Jeanette (MacDonald), who he hopes to woo without revealing his true identity.
The opening scene of the film is absolutely perfect. The film’s setting of Paris and its many ordinary residents are shown, going about their days.
Sound builds slowly as the city wakes up, with a new element being added each time a new actor is shown on screen – “the music of the city.”
The viewer is then taken into Maurice’s apartment, where he breaks into a charming song about Paris (“The Song of Paree”). Absolutely flawless, and a very engaging way to start off a musical.
Fantastic songs appear throughout the film, my favorite being “The Son-of-a-Gun is Nothing But a Tailor.” With music and lyrics by the iconic Rodgers and Hart, it comes as no surprise that the songs are so charming, so endearing.
The performances also add much to the film’s charm. No matter how small their screen time, every single performer is on-point.
Facial expressions are a particularly striking element throughout the film. Though our expressions may not be so exaggerated in real life, they don’t push the film over-the-top or out of the realm of believability in this case. They simply add excitement and a enhance the film’s comedy.
The mistaken identity-based plot is also very exciting. It is reminiscent of Midnight (1939), in which Claudette Colbert plays a woman posing as a baroness. However, the films aren’t carbon copies of each other. Aside from the “posing as a royal” element, they are quite different in action and content, and are both enjoyable individually.
Though it seems inevitable that Maurice’s true identity will be uncovered, the viewer can’t predict exactly when or how the reveal will happen, which keeps you on the edge of your toes as you watch.
Will Maurice get the girl? When will his identity be uncovered? When his identity is uncovered, will Princess Jeanette want nothing to do with him? These are the questions that the viewer asks, and they are all answered in somewhat unusual ways in this extremely delightful musical.