And it’s fun to see what Paramount had to put up with when it came to censorship.
Producer Jesse Lasky Jr. suggested that the Rodgers and Hart song,’The Apache’ have ‘a protection take’,substituting the line “Nuts to You!” Lasky liked the line and had “every hope it will get by in most places.”
Canadian censor boards found plenty to complain about.
Ontario didnt like the line from Maurice Chevalier’s famous song,’Mimi’ – “You know I’d like to have a little son of a Mimi by and by.”
British Columbia didn’t like “I used to flirt until it hurt,while he stood there in his undershirt.”
Alberta’s censors decided they couldn’t possibly let their folk see Chevalier (he’s a tailor) taking Jeanette MacDonald’s bust measurement.
LOVE ME TONIGHT is a sheer delight.Made only three years after the start of sound films,it is the work of director Rouben Mamoulian (1897-1987) whose ingenuity,imagination and technical mastery made it stand out . Author Tom Milne (who wrote ‘Mamoulian’ in 1969) described the musical number ‘Isnt It Romantic’ as “total choreography”. You marvel at how this lovely song is filmed .
Starting in the shop where Chevalier is fitting a new suit on one of his clients,Maurice starts the song, the customer joins in and when he drives off in a taxi, the driver starts humming it,soldiers march along to it . A gypsy violinist takes it up and finally,Jeanette MacDonald hears it and sings the final chorus.
The flowing camera movement is wonderful. It is such an original way to film a song.
From the following photo, it is amazing to see Chevalier performing the number,’I’m an Apache’ in front of the studio orchestra. Love Me Tonight must be one of the last musicals to have a song recorded live with an orchestra off screen.
Rouben Mamoulian was another director who spent a lot of time away from Hollywood while working on Broadway. His huge stage successes included Porgy And Bess ,Oklahoma (1943) and Carousel (1945). He only made 16 films in 29 years.
He did the first Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931),Queen Christina (1933), Becky Sharp (1935),High Wide And Handsome (1937), Golden Boy (1939),Blood And Sand (1941) and Silk Stockings in 1957.
Mamoulian’s words to Garbo at the end of Queen Christina is Hollywood legend:
“I want you to be a blank sheet of paper.I want the writing to be done by every member of the audience.”
Mamoulian was signed to direct Laura 1944,with Otto Preminger as Producer. There were disagreements between the two men and Fox offered to fire Preminger,but Mamoulian bowed out.
14 years later,in 1958, Mamoulian was set to direct Porgy And Bess ( his great stage success), but again,after disagreements, he was fired and,ironically Otto Preminger took over.
He shot 10 minutes of film on Cleopatra in 1961 and again left the production.
Mamoulian once said, “ the most important critic is time.”
Love Me Tonight passes the test.