(Ernst Lubitsch, US 1929, 107 min., 35mm)
Silent Tuesdays. Maurice Chevalier became an overnight film sensation in his first sound feature Innocents of Paris; his sophistication, insouciance, overwhelming charm, and natural comedic ability made him the first international star created by the new medium of talking pictures. Whereas Innocents of Paris had only a few songs created for Chevalier centered on a thin plot, Paramount went all out for his second film, The Love Parade. Ernest Vajda and Guy Bolton (whose collaborations with humorist P. G. Wodehouse had revolutionized musical theatre) wrote the script; multi-talented Victor Schertzinger (who had come to Hollywood to compose music for silent films but then became a major film director) wrote the score; brilliant newcomer Jeannette MacDonald made her screen debut; and the great director Ernst Lubitsch (who was also a trained musician) was assigned to bring everything together as his own first talkie. The result was cinema’s first truly witty musical, which rolls along with incredible fluency and ingratiating sauciness. Many of the songs became instant hits (“Paris, Stay The Same,” “Dream Lover,” “Nobody’s Using It Now,” and the title song), and Lubitsch even gave secondary couple Lillian Roth and Lupino Lane a spectacular showcase in their wild “Let’s Be Common” number, which is not to be missed!
Print courtesy the Museum of Modern Art, New York.