Love Me Tonight
Love Me Tonight is a 1932 American pre-Code musical comedy film produced and directed by Rouben Mamoulian, with music by Rodgers and Hart. It stars Maurice Chevalier as a tailor who poses as a nobleman and Jeanette MacDonald as a princess with whom he falls in love. It also stars Charles Ruggles as a penniless nobleman, along with Charles Butterworth and Myrna Loy as members of his family.
|Love Me Tonight|
|Directed by||Rouben Mamoulian|
|Produced by||Rouben Mamoulian|
|Written by||Samuel Hoffenstein|
George Marion Jr.
|Music by||Richard Rodgers (music) |
Lorenz Hart (lyrics)
|Edited by||Rouben Mamoulian |
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|August 18, 1932|
The film is an adaptation by Samuel Hoffenstein, George Marion Jr. and Waldemar Young of the play Le Tailleur au château ("The tailor at the castle") by Paul Armont and Léopold Marchand. It features the classic Rodgers and Hart songs "Love Me Tonight", "Isn't it Romantic?", "Mimi", and "Lover". "Lover" is sung not romantically, as it often is in nightclubs, but comically, as MacDonald's character tries to control an unruly horse. The staging of "Isn't It Romantic?" was revolutionary for its time, combining both singing and film editing, as the song is passed from one singer (or group of singers) to another, all of whom are at different locales.
In his book Hollywood in the Thirties, John Baxter declared “If there is a better musical of the Thirties, one wonders what it can be.” In 1990, Love Me Tonight was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The story describes an encounter between a Parisian tailor named Maurice Courtelin (Chevalier) and a family of local aristocrats. These include Vicomte Gilbert de Varèze (Ruggles), who owes Maurice a large amount of money for tailoring work; Gilbert's uncle the Duc d'Artelines (C. Aubrey Smith), the family patriarch; d'Artelines' man-hungry niece Valentine (Loy); and his other 22-year-old niece, Princesse Jeanette (MacDonald), who has been a widow for three years. D'Artelines has been unable to find Jeanette a new husband of suitable age and rank. The household also includes three aunts and an ineffectual suitor the Comte de Savignac (Butterworth).
Maurice custom-tailors clothing for de Varèze on credit, but the Vicomte's unpaid tailoring bills become intolerable, so Maurice travels to de Savignac's castle to collect the money owed to him. On the way, he has a confrontation with Princesse Jeanette. He immediately professes his love for her, but she haughtily rejects him.
When Maurice arrives at the castle, Gilbert introduces him as "Baron Courtelin" in order to hide the truth from the Comte. Maurice is fearful of this scheme at first, but changes his mind when he sees Jeanette. While staying at the castle, he arouses Valentine's desire, charms the rest of the family except for Jeanette, saves a deer's life during a hunt, and continues to woo Jeanette. The Comte de Savignac discovers that Maurice is a fake, but the Vicomte then claims that Maurice is a royal who is traveling incognito for security reasons. Finally, Jeanette succumbs to Maurice's charms, telling him "Whoever you are, whatever you are, wherever you are, I love you."
When Maurice criticizes Jeanette's tailor, the family confronts him for his rudeness, only to catch him and Jeanette alone with Jeanette partially undressed. Maurice explains that he is redesigning Jeanette's riding outfit, and he proves this by successfully altering it, but in the process he is forced to reveal his true identity. Despite her earlier promise, Jeanette recoils from him and runs to her room on hearing that he is a commoner. The entire household is outraged, and Maurice leaves. However, as a train carries him back to Paris, Jeanette struggles with her fears, finally realizes her mistake, and catches up to the train on horseback. When the engineer refuses to stop the train, she rides ahead and stands on the track. The train stops, Maurice jumps out, and the two lovers embrace as steam from the train envelops them.
- Maurice Chevalier as Maurice, Baron Courtelin
- Jeanette MacDonald as Princesse Jeanette
- Charles Ruggles as Vicomte Gilbert de Varèze (as Charlie Ruggles)
- Charles Butterworth as Comte de Savignac
- Myrna Loy as Comtesse Valentine
- C. Aubrey Smith as the Duc d'Artelines
- Elizabeth Patterson as First Aunt
- Ethel Griffies as Second Aunt
- Blanche Friderici as Third Aunt (as Blanche Frederici)
- Joseph Cawthorn as Dr. Armand de Fontinac (as Joseph Cawthorne)
- Robert Greig as Major Domo Flammand
- Bert Roach as Émile
- George 'Gabby' Hayes as Grocer
For the post-Production Code re-release (after 1934), Love Me Tonight was trimmed to 96 minutes. The missing eight minutes of footage have never been restored and are presumed lost. Known deletions include Myrna Loy's portion of the "Mimi" reprise, as under the strictures of the Production Code, her negligee was deemed too revealing.
American Film Institute ListsEdit
Love Me Tonight was released through Kino International DVD on November 25, 2003. Extra features included screenplay excerpts of deleted scenes, audio commentary by Miles Kreuger (Founder and President of the Institute of the American Musical, Inc. and also a good friend of Rouben Mamoulian), production documents, censorship records, and performances from Maurice Chevalier (Louise) and Jeanette MacDonald (Love Me Tonight) from the 1932 short Hollywood on Parade. There are no existing pre-Code uncensored versions of the original film.
- The Films and Career of Maurice Chevalier (Gene Ringgold, Dewitt Bodeen, The Citadel Press, 1973), ISBN 0-8065-0354-8. P.110.
- "Complete National Film Registry Listing | Film Registry | National Film Preservation Board | Programs at the Library of Congress | Library of Congress". Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Retrieved May 5, 2020.
- Green, Stanley (1999) Hollywood Musicals Year by Year (2nd ed.), pub. Hal Leonard Corporation ISBN 0-634-00765-3 page 17
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees
- AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Ballot
- Love Me Tonight essay  by Richard Barrios on the National Film Registry website
- Love Me Tonight at IMDb
- Love Me Tonight at the TCM Movie Database
- Love Me Tonight (1932) at Rotten Tomatoes
- Love Me Tonight at Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy: A Tribute
- Love Me Tonight essay by Daniel Eagan in America's Film Legacy: The Authoritative Guide to the Landmark Movies in the National Film Registry, A&C Black, 2010 ISBN 0826429777, pages 196-198