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The Merry Widow (1934)

Passed | | Comedy, Musical, Romance | 2 November 1934 (USA)
When a small kingdom's main tax payer leaves for Paris, its king dispatches a dashing count to win back her allegiance.

Director:

Ernst Lubitsch

Writers:

Ernest Vajda (screen play), Samson Raphaelson (screen play) | 7 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Maurice Chevalier ... Prince Danilo
Jeanette MacDonald ... Sonia
Edward Everett Horton ... Ambassador Popoff
Marcel Vallée Marcel Vallée ... L'ambassadeur (French Version)
Una Merkel ... Queen Dolores
Danièle Parola ... La reine (French Version)
George Barbier ... King Achmed II
André Berley ... Le roi (French Version)
Fifi D'Orsay ... Marcelle (French Version)
Minna Gombell ... Marcelle
Ruth Channing ... Lulu
Pauline Garon ... Lola (French Version)
George Davis ... L'ordonnance (French Version)
Sterling Holloway ... Orderly Mishka
Donald Meek ... Valet
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Storyline

The small kingdom of Marshovia has a little problem. The main tax-payer, the wealthy widow Sonia (who pays 52% of the taxes) has left for Paris. So Count Danilo is sent to Paris, to stop her from getting married to a stranger, so that the danger of removing the money is averted. But this is not as easy as the ambassador in Paris has planned. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The musical that set all the standards. See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

2 November 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La veuve joyeuse See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$329,180

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$6,014,620
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A French-language version was filmed simultaneously, with Chevalier and MacDonald in the starring roles. (As a trained opera singer, MacDonald spoke and sang excellent French.) However, the rest of the cast was replaced with French-speaking actors. Marcel Vallée played the Ambassador (who is played by Edward Everett Horton in the English version). See more »

Goofs

When Count Danilo leaves Madame Sonia's residence after his romantic efforts are rejected, there is a close up of him fully shutting the door. Next, when it cuts to a long shot of just Madame, you see that the door is not fully closed but is in the process of swinging shut on its own. See more »

Quotes

Orderly Mishka: Captain Danilo left last night and he hasn't come back.
Ambassador Popoff: Oh! What will I do? What will I do?
Orderly Mishka: If you don't mind, sir, I still say, forgive her. She loves you.
Ambassador Popoff: I'm not married! I'm not looking for my wife! I am looking for Captain Danilo!
See more »

Alternate Versions

A slightly censored version was released to television in the 1950s - retitled "The Lady Dances". See more »

Connections

Version of The Merry Widow (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Maxim's
(1905) (uncredited)
Music by Franz Lehár
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Sung by Maurice Chevalier
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Passion In Three-Quarters Time
10 October 2004 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

The Monarch of Marshovia sends a romantic count to Paris to woo back THE MERRY WIDOW whose vast wealth is vital to running the tiny kingdom.

Nine years after producing a non-talking film based on the Franz Lehár operetta, MGM mined the same material again, this time as a musical comedy. The Studio would give the film its trademark opulent treatment, with production values of the highest order. Celebrated lyricist Lorenz Hart was engaged to write words for the music. And, to make absolutely certain of success, director Ernst Lubitsch and stars Maurice Chevalier & Jeanette MacDonald were reunited to duplicate their previous triumphs at Paramount Studios.

If, ultimately, the film does not have quite the effervescence of Lubitsch's previous pictures, this is probably understandable. MGM, while wonderful with epics and dramas, often took an unnecessarily heavy-handed approach to subjects which should have been given a lighter, airier treatment. Also, the film was released a few months after the imposition of the Production Code, which obviously had a significant effect upon the movie's final persona.

Chevalier & MacDonald continue the on screen relationship already well established in their earlier films: she, the rather aloof and powerful female who needs a good man; he, the social inferior who wins her with his enormous Gallic charm. Their singing is vivacious & charming and sometimes you can almost understand her words.

Unlike the 1925 version of THE MERRY WIDOW, there is no villain here to provide dramatic tension. The costars, however, provide much comic amusement. Foremost among them is waspish Edward Everett Horton, very funny as Marshovia's nervous Ambassador in Paris. Rotund George Barbier & sprightly Una Merkel make the most of their small roles as the diminutive nation's conniving King and flirtatious Queen.

Some of the smaller roles are also humorously cast: Sterling Holloway as Chevalier's loyal orderly; Donald Meek as the King's gossipy valet; and Herman Bing as Horton's dramatic factotum.

Movie mavens will recognize Akim Tamiroff as the head waiter at Maxim's & Arthur Housman as a drunk (what else?) trying to gain entry into that establishment, both uncredited.


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