12 user 6 critic

Bitter Sweet (1940)

Passed | | Drama, Musical, Romance | 8 November 1940 (USA)
A woman runs away with her music teacher in order to escape an arranged marriage, but they struggle to make ends meet.


W.S. Van Dyke (as W.S. Van Dyke II)


Noël Coward (original play) (as Noel Coward), Lesser Samuels (screen play)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jeanette MacDonald ... Sarah Millick
Nelson Eddy ... Carl Linden
George Sanders ... Baron von Tranisch
Ian Hunter ... Lord Shayne
Felix Bressart ... Max
Edward Ashley ... Harry Daventry
Lynne Carver ... Dolly
Diana Lewis ... Jane
Curt Bois ... Ernst
Fay Holden ... Mrs. Millick
Sig Ruman ... Herr Schlick (as Sig Rumann)
Janet Beecher ... Lady Daventry
Charles Judels ... Herr Wyler
Veda Ann Borg ... Manon
Herman Bing ... Market Keeper


In order to avoid an arranged marriage with a man she doesn't love, Sarah Millick runs off to Vienna with her music teacher, Carl Linden, whom she does love. They are married. In Vienna, they struggle to make a living by making music. Carl writes an operetta and tries to get it produced. They are helped along by Viennese Baron, but his intentions are not honorable. He kills Carl in a sword fight. A big producer does put on the operetta, with Sari in the lead -- but without her husband, it is a bittersweet victory. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A musical triumph! See more »


Drama | Musical | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

8 November 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bittersweet See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film was first telecast in Seattle Monday 1 April 1957 on KING (Channel 5); it first aired in Norfolk VA 11 June 1957 on WTAR (Channel 3), in Philadelphia 12 July 1957 on WFIL (Channel 6), in Los Angeles Friday 19 July 1957 on KTTV (Channel 11), in Memphis 31 August 1957 on WHBQ (Channel 13), in Honolulu 1 September 1957 on KHVH (Channel 13), in Hartford CT 8 September 1957 on WHCT (Channel 18), in New York City 13 September 1957 on WCBS (Channel 2), in Altoona PA 15 October 1957 on WFBG (Channel 10), in Binghamton NY 30 October 1957 on WNBF (Channel 12), in Portland OR 15 December 1957 on KGW (Channel 8), in Miami 25 December 1957 on WCKT (Channel 7), in Indianapolis 20 February 1958 on WLW-I (Channel 13), in Cincinnati 17 March 1958 on WLW-T (Channel 5), in St. Louis 27 March 1958 on KMOX (Channel 4), in Columbus 30 March 1958 on WLW-C and, finally, in San Francisco 12 October 1958 on KGO (Channel 7). At this time, color broadcasting was in its infancy, limited to only a small number of high rated programs, primarily on NBC and NBC affiliated stations, so these film showings were all still in B&W. Viewers were not offered the opportunity to see these films in their original Technicolor until several years later. See more »


Sarah Millick, later Sari Linden: [over a very sparse dinner] Oh well, maybe it's all for the best. I hear more people die from overeating than from any other cause.
Carl Linden: I bet we'll be immortal, then. I hate Herr Weiller.
Sarah Millick, later Sari Linden: I hate the market keeper.
Carl Linden: I hate the landlord.
Sarah Millick, later Sari Linden: That's not fair, *I* was going to hate the landlord. *You* hate Herr Weiller again.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown on a sewing sampler. See more »


Featured in The Miracle of Sound (1940) See more »


If You Could Only Come With Me
(1929) (uncredited)
Written by Noël Coward
Sung by Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy
See more »

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User Reviews

Nelson and Jeannette sing their hearts out
2 December 2006 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Jeannette MacDonald is an English woman who falls in love with her teacher (Nelson Eddy) and runs away with him to Vienna in "Bitter Sweet," a 1940 musical based on a play by Noel Coward.

Sarah (MacDonald) gets away from her family and a man she doesn't love to be with Carl (Eddy) who sings and composes. They have a hard time making ends meet but eventually start making money performing in a club. When a top producer is brought to the club to hear Carl's music, the future looks rosy. It's just an illusion.

The film was given a top-notch production in color, and Jeannette not only looks lovely but wears the most glorious gowns! I have always preferred Jeanette's acting to Nelson's and Nelson's singing to Jeanette's. Both of them sound wonderful singing Noel Coward's music, including the beautiful "I'll See You Again." For some reason, both MacDonald and Eddy had uncredited "vocal stand-ins" - I would assume these people did not sing for them but perhaps rehearsed with the musicians, because Nelson and Jeanette sounded like themselves. MacDonald's voice had a fluttery quality and her tone tended to straighten at the top, but the middle voice and lower tones sounded beautiful. And you can't beat her presence. Eddy, of course, was a magnificent singer, totally suited to the operatic stage. He just never seemed that comfortable in front of the camera.

Reminiscent of "Maytime," this is a treat for Eddy-MacDonald fans.

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