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The Merry Widow
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|Genre||Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts/Musicals/General|
|Contributor||Maurice Chevalier, Minna Gombell, Jeanette Macdonald, Edward Everett Horton, George Barbier, Una Merkel See more|
|Runtime||1 hour and 39 minutes|
Jeanette MacDonald is Sonia, a bubbly widow who owns 52% of every cow and cowtown in the tiny European country of Marshovia. When she relocates to glittery Paris, suave ladies' man Captain Danilo (Maurice Chevalier) sets out in hot pursuit. His mission: avert his homeland's financial ruin by bringing Sonia back on the wings of love. But hang on tight, Danilo. Love always flies a delirious course when legendary director Ernst Lubitsch, known for sophisticated wit and a style affectionately dubbed as "the Lubitsch touch" is at the helm. A frothy, high-spirited gem based on Franz Lehar's operetta, The Merry Widow set the standard for musicals to come. And it confirmed what MGM's top brass already knew: Jeanette MacDoanld was a major star. So enjoy the rapturous music, the sparkling dialogue and the swirling "Merry Widow Waltz." You'll have to look far and wide for a better comic operetta than this.
- Aspect Ratio : 1.33:1
- MPAA rating : NR (Not Rated)
- Product Dimensions : 7.5 x 5.5 x 0.5 inches; 2.72 Ounces
- Media Format : NTSC
- Run time : 1 hour and 39 minutes
- Release date : May 28, 2013
- Actors : Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette Macdonald, Edward Everett Horton, Una Merkel, George Barbier
- Studio : Warner Archive
- ASIN : B00C2QWY86
- Country of Origin : USA
- Number of discs : 1
- Best Sellers Rank: #59,044 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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When the wealthiest widow of the microscopic and impoverished European kingdom of Marshovia gets fed up with her years of mourning and flees to Paris to live it up, the frantic king deploys the virile and dashing Captain of the Guard, Count Danilo - whom he had just caught hanky-pankying his flirty wife, the Queen (Una Merkel) - to Paris to woo the widow and bring her and her money back home, lest the kingdom go bankrupt. The City of Light finds Danilo very much at home, given that he frequents Paris enough that he's built up a notorious rep, specifically with the can-can girls at the swank nightclub Maxime. In Maxime, to test Danilo's character, the beautiful widow in question, Sonia, poses as a hostess named Fifi. She disapproves of what she sees. A fella's debauchery with a chorus of can-can girls will probably sour a good girl, at that. The widow Sonia flees in disappointment, leaving behind a quite smitten Danilo, too late become a one-woman man. But since this is a frothy operetta, you can bet the bank that a happy resolution is just around the corner. Although there may be tears and sacrifices and a court martial before the happily ever after.
Before her movie pairings with Nelson Eddy would tame her screen persona, Jeanette MacDonald exhibited a sassier and, at times, a more coquettish streak. No doubt, due to that effervescent (and juuuust a bit naughty) Lubitsch influence. THE MERRY WIDOW would be the fourth and final time MacDonald and Chevalier would co-star, and you still couldn't tell that, in real life, they couldn't stand each other. As always, Chevalier sells it as the rakish seducer.
The script is witty. Rodgers and Hart provides new lyrics. The Lubitsch touch is in full display, celebrating the sophisticated tweaking of prudish conventions. The film basks in snappy banter, not only from the two leads, but from veteran supporting actors Una Merkel, Edward Everett Horton (as the fidgety French ambassador), and George Barbier (as the cuckolded king). One of the many highlights features Horton and Chevalier engaged in a paltry dispute (over a woman, natch) which instantly dissipates when each learns the identity of the other. And then there's George Barbier's dejected king, about to move out of the palace, woefully wrapping his crown in sad newspaper.
THE MERRY WIDOW never did recoup its budget of $1.6 million (a titanic amount, for its time), so, technically, the film was a bust. Critically, it was another smash hit. I would say that THE MERRY WIDOW, this 1934 version, is one of the greatest musical classics around. Lubitsch's theater of playful salaciousness always could elicit an appreciative grin from the audience. The things you can get away with, if only you have that touch of class.
Now, receiving the wrong version, through no fault of my own, I gave Amazon a bad rating, which reflected badly at first on the individual seller who sent me the wrong version (not the 1934 one pictured here, but the surprise 1952 version) and I put my name down on a waiting list for the 1934 version with Amazon. Amazon has not given me a reply on the waiting list.
But the individual seller wrote me a fine apology and offered to allow me to keep the wrong version if I would take away the unfavorable rating on the transaction. I replied that I was happy enough with the purchase (though still wanting the 1934 version) and found the seller to have exonerated his company just by his/her own generosity and concern. I hope that the seller's rating has been fixed by Amazon, and I do hope that Amazon still does have me on record as waiting for this 1934 version. Being asked now for a review tickles my emergency button. Amazon, are you paying attention to all of this?
perfectly matched here (as they were in the classic 'Love Me Tonight') with the former her haughty elegant self and the latter full of his 'bon vivant' charm. What's left of the music is handled nicely and integrated into the 'new' plot. Much of the credit should be given to Rouben Mamoulian's deft direction. It's another time and another sensibility and it's also very enjoyable.
Of course any movie with Edward Everett Horton is worth watching once, and he has the best line in the film, when he asks Danilo,"Have you ever had diplomatic relations with a woman?"
Top reviews from other countries
Unfortunately the same cannot be said of this sloppy Warner Archive Collection DVD. It's dull and muddy, soft to the point of just not in focus, with loss of detail and little or no grain texture. Sound seems to be filtered through a limiter, cutting out where the levels are low, then suddenly cutting back in hard when dialogue or music resumes.
This seems to be a recurring problem with the Warner Archive Collection, as I have a few other lackluster DVDs from the same collection with the same symptoms. I don't mind that they don't have any extras other than an original trailer, and I don't mind seeing occasional age-related artifacts and scratches; but at least make an honest effort to do these classics some justice so we can actually enjoy them instead of having to suffer through these poor transfers.
This gem deserves much better. Two stars for a job not well done, Warner's.