Nelson Eddy

Rosalie 1937

Rosalie (1937)

Princess Rosalie of Romanzia (Eleanor Powell) doesn’t care much about her status. While studying at Vassar, she keeps her title a secret and enjoys doing normal college student things like going to football games. She has a big crush on Dick Thorpe (Nelson Eddy), a Cadet at West Point and top football player on their team. When they meet at a party, he falls in love with her too, not having any clue who she really is, and he agrees to meet her again in Romanzia.

He also doesn’t realize that Rosalie’s father, the King (Frank Morgan), has already announced her engagement to Prince Paul (Tom Rutherford). Rosalie doesn’t love Paul and Paul is more interested in Rosalie’s friend Brenda (Ilona Massey). Determined to not miss their date, even if it means getting in trouble at school, he flies all the way to Europe to meet up with her. He’s greeted with a hero’s welcome by the King himself, who invites him to come enjoy the big festival going on. At the festival, who else would he see doing an elaborate dance performance but Rosalie?

At first, Dick is thrilled to be reunited with Rosalie, but it isn’t long before he finds out the truth about who she is and who she’s engaged to. Before she can explain that she doesn’t love Paul at all, he leaves her to fly back to West Point. But Rosalie isn’t about to give up that easily and follows him back.

If Eleanor Powell wasn’t dancing, Rosalie did nothing for me. The story wasn’t anything remarkable; it didn’t hold my interest and it felt like it went on for way too long. And I had to take off even more points for all the scenes of Frank Morgan with that creepy ventriloquist’s dummy. The only things I liked about Rosalie were Eleanor Powell’s dance numbers, which were absolutely dazzling. Her number dancing to the song “Rosalie” is certainly one of the all-time greats. Rosalie was directed by W.S. Van Dyke, famously nicknamed “One Take Van Dyke,” and I would love to know how many takes were involved in the filming of that scene.

Rose-Marie (1936)

Marie de Flor (Jeanette MacDonald) is one of the most renowned opera singers in the world.  She’s on top of the world, and although she has plenty of wealthy men throwing themselves at her, she doesn’t feel the need to accept any of their advances.  The only man she’s concerned with is her brother John (James Stewart), who is serving a prison sentence.  She’d been hoping he would get out on parole, so when she finds out his request was denied, she decides to wield her influence and hosts a dinner party for the Premier of Quebec.  But on the night of the party, Marie gets a message from Boniface (George Regas), informing her that her brother has escaped and killed a Mounty in the process.

Boniface knows where John is hiding, so he takes Marie out to Lake Shibuga so she can find him.  But once they get to town, Marie stops in the store to buy some clothes and she discovers Boniface has stolen her money.  The shopkeeper tells her to report it to Sergeant Bruce (Nelson Eddy), the new Mounty in town, but she doesn’t want to call attention to herself and decides to try earning some money singing at the local bar instead.  The local drunks just don’t appreciate her operatic style, but she does catch Sergeant Bruce’s attention, who just happened to be in the bar at the time.  He had heard all about her money being stolen, and even though she tries to downplay who she is, he’d recognize her voice anywhere.

Bruce takes Marie to a festival where he knows Boniface will be.  Marie gets her money back and forces Boniface to take her to her brother.  But by the time Bruce figures out that Marie and John must be related, she and Boniface are already on their way so he follows them.  Along the way, Boniface ditches Marie again and Bruce takes care of her.  Alone in the wilderness together, the two of them fall madly in love with each other.  Eventually, Marie makes her way to John, but she doesn’t realize that Bruce had followed her and he arrests John. Marie returns to the stage, absolutely devastated by Bruce’s betrayal.  Soon, the stress of performing becomes too much for her and she takes a vacation in the mountains, where she and Bruce are finally reunited.

Rose-Marie is the Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy movie that I’ve seen and it definitely made me want to see some of the others they did together.  The operetta style isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I don’t mind it and I can see why Eddy and MacDonald were such a successful duo.  It’s lighthearted and predictable, but who cares? It’s entertainment for entertainment’s sake.  As long as that’s what you’re in the mood for, it’s a very enjoyable movie.

Dancing Lady (1933)

Not being able to get any other kind of job, Janie Barlow (Joan Crawford) resorts to taking a job in a burlesque club.  When her club gets raided one night, she gets dragged into night court and the wealthy playboy Tod Newton (Franchot Tone) and his friends go along with them to see what happens.  Finding himself attracted to Janie, he pays her bail and once she’s out, takes her out on a date and sends her home with some extra money for a new dress.  She’s attracted to Tod, too, but is afraid he’s out of her league.  She also decides that she’s had enough of burlesque and is determined to get a job in a legitimate show.  She hears that Patch Gallagher (Clark Gable) is putting on a new show and starts stalking him, determined to get in.  Patch blows her off at every turn, but as anybody in showbiz knows, it pays to have connections.  Tod offers to send a letter of introduction to Jasper Bradley, Patch’s boss.  That letter gets her an audition and even though they try to brush her off, she proves to be a very talented dancer and gets in the show.

What Janie doesn’t know is that Tod also offered to help fund the show if she gets in.  She works very hard in rehearsals and even begins to win over Patch, who is starting to fall for her.  He even takes her out of the chorus and makes her a star.  Meanwhile, she continues seeing Tod.  Tod is very much in love with her, but with Janie’s career taking off, she’s not particularly interested in getting married.  But Tod sees an easy solution to this — buy the show out and close it so that Janie has nothing else to do but get married to Tod.  Janie isn’t just disappointed because she doesn’t get to be a star, but also because she had fallen in love with Patch, too.

Janie and Tod take a trip to Cuba together, but Patch is determined to have the show go on and puts his own money into it.  Janie and Tod return just before the show is set to open, but they run into a very drunk Patch in a nightclub.  Patch can’t resist telling Janie about what Tod has done and when she finds out the truth, she is horrified.  She goes to see Patch and begs him to let her back into the show.  Janie gets her job back, the show opens, and naturally, it’s a big success.  Tod makes one last attempt to win Janie back, but now she knows where her heart truly lies.

Dancing Lady was clearly MGM’s attempt to keep up with Warner Brothers’ Busby Berkeley musicals.  You clearly see the influence of Berkeley’s choreography, but even MGM couldn’t fully capture the brilliance of the real thing.  But that being said, it’s a very entertaining movie.  It’s got lots of fun, saucy pre-code lines and I loved the entire cast.  Actually, I think the cast is the most interesting thing about Dancing Lady.  First of all, you’ve got Joan Crawford with Clark Gable and Franchot Tone, two of her best co-stars.  But then you’ve also got The Three Stooges plus Nelson Eddy and Fred Astaire, both making their film debuts.  Yes, believe it or not, it is possible to see Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Fred Astaire, and The Three Stooges together in the same movie.  It’s a very unlikely bunch of people to wind up in a movie together, but I can’t help but love the fact that it actually happened.  All in all, a great movie, one of my favorite 1930s Joan Crawford movies.