I’ve got my order in for the Blu-Ray of Rouben Mamoulian’s LOVE ME TONIGHT, due at the end of September from Kino Lorber.
This was an early talkie (1932) but the camera work is so smooth flowing and the musical numbers show great originality in their staging.
Maurice Chevalier is a Parisian tailor owed money by Charlie Ruggles whom he pursues to a castle where lovely Princess Jeanette lives ( that’s Jeanette MacDonald.)
Of course romance blossoms and we are treated to some memorable songs by Richard Rodgers/LorenzHart – “Lover”, “Mimi”, Love Me Tonight” and “Isn’t It Romantic” ( which is wonderfully staged and sang in various locations by a montage of singers, from Chevalier to a taxi driver , an army troupe and a lonely Princess.)
Lovely to see Myrna Loy before her transformation when she joined MGM. Here she plays Countess Valentine with vampish relish!
MacDonald and Chevalier made four films together at Paramount – The Love Parade, One Hour With You, The Merry Widow and Love Me Tonight. After that, Jeanette MacDonald ,like Myrna, joined MGM and found a new singing partner in Nelson Eddy, while Maurice left Hollywood in 1935 and returned to France. Though he did return in triumph to Hollywood for Gigi in 1958 when he was 70.
………….In 1992, Fred Astaire’s widow, Robyn, refused to allow the Kennedy Center Honors in Washington to use clips of Fred in their televised tribute to Ginger Rogers .
Fred Astaire had negotiated and retained the rights to film clips of his dances.Any reference in documentaries or tributes using a clip from one of the Astaire films require the permission of the Astaire estate which is administered by his widow.
(I’d love to know how Fred managed to get such a deal ).
Although the live event In 1992 did show Fred and Ginger , when it was televised by CBS, there wasn’t a single clip of Ginger and Fred dancing. (Can anyone remember seeing the show and wondering why there were no film clips of Fred and Ginger ?)
Robyn Astaire had insisted that the segments with Fred be edited out George Stevens jr., organiser of the event, told People magazine that Mrs. Astaire wanted $70,000 for the use of 4 clips.
All previous rights-holders had donated broadcast rights for the event for free.
Ironic that Fred Astaire was one of the first Kennedy Center Honor recipients in 1978. A shame that Ginger had to wait nearly another 20 years to be honoured.
The annual Kennedy Center Honors choose five people from all areas of the arts in America for their contributions over a lifetime. The President of the United States is usually present at the awards ceremony which is taped for future TV transmission.
Previous recipients include Claudette Colbert, James Cagney, Bette Davis, Gene Kelly, James Stewart, Irene Dunne, Katharine Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, Cary Grant, the Nicholas Brothers.
In contrast, in 1997, permission was granted for the use of images of Fred dancing in commercials for the Dirt Devil vacuum cleaner. Several of their ads used clips from various Astaire films. The dance scenes were computerised and the coat rack from Royal Wedding and the cane from Easter Parade were substituted with a vacuum cleaner.
Even the Ceiling dance in Royal Wedding was used.
As illustrated below.
EASTER PARADE (Stepping Out With My Baby).
”You’re All the World To Me”. ROYAL WEDDING.
According to Mrs.Astaire, the ads were “Artistically suitable”.
The reaction of Fred’s daughter, Ava?
To the Royal Appliance Manufacturing Company, she said,
“Your paltry, unconscionable commercials are the antithesis of everything my lovely gentle father represented.”
The late Robert Osborne said, “When Fred’s in a commercial electronically fixed so he’s dancing with a vacuum cleaner, I’m not sure that’s protecting his image. It does strike me that it’s money making.”
Film critic Roger Ebert added, “To sell an image ,ie the likeness and name, might be within the legitimate rights of an estate. But to recycle an actor’s actual work, their acting, is shameful.”
My opinion, in one word, Crass.
………Paul Henreid directed 6 episodes of The Big Valley TV series which starred Barbara Stanwyck.
………….I haven’t seen Star Of Midnight (1935). Worth a viewing?
Ginger Rogers /William Powell sound a good teaming.
…………….An MGM artist new to me is Ted ‘Vincentini’ Ireland who worked at MGM in the 1920s and 30s.
Some of his work: