Love Me Tonight is a Pre- Code musical made in 1932. The musical stars a young Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. The story bored me to death but there were a few scenes that were rather interesting because they were things not really done in a musical but since this is a pre-code it got away with a lot.
Maurice Chevalier plays a French tailor named Maurice. His friend Gilbert whose family is of some nobility has not paid him for the suits that were made for him so Maurice is now in a bit of trouble with the people who make the fabrics and sell him shirts. Maurice decides he will go to Gilbert’s chateau to get the money from him. On the way there he helps a woman named Jeanette (Jeanette MacDonald) who has run her horse and carriage off the road. Maurice is taken with Jeanette but she is not. At the chateau Gilbert says he cannot pay Maurice because his uncle will not give him anymore money. When asked who Maurice is Gilbert lies saying that Maurice is a baron. Jeanette lives in the chateau and the two meet again. They fall in love and she is distraught when she finds out that Maurice is a tailor. But then she decides she really loves him and runs after him. THE END.
Wow that was even more boring to write than it was to watch.
So why on earth did I even sit through this film? Joseph Mankiewicz says it nicely “For me, the highlight of the picture was a young actress named Myrna Loy. Light and lissome and lovely, Myrna’s the reason you forgot who played opposite Chevalier- she was a singer; she sang. She got Chevalier, but, as I remember it, Myrna got the picture.” And let me reinforce that quote and tell you she certainly stole the whole film. Loy’s parts were the only good ones her lines were hysterical and she delivered them so naturally. She plays the man hungry Countess Valentine. Valentine is so bored with everything she literally takes a nap anywhere. One scene Gilbert comes in (who happens to play Major Applegate in Bringing Up Baby) after Jeanette has fainted and ask her “Could you go for a doctor?” and Valentine replies “Yes- bring him right in!” haha. Another scene when everyone in the chateau is about to go on a hunt Jeanette asks Valentine “Do you ever think of anything but men” and Valentine replies “Yes, schoolboys”! She has so many other good lines too but these are the best.
In her autobiography, Loy recalls about the film “They are the corniest lines in the world when you hear them now, but the house ripped open. I mean the preview audience just yelled.” She goes on to say that this is when she realized she had the talent to be funny. She also recalls how in a scene where the chateau holds a dress ball she was supposed to wear a pretty empire dress but Jeanette MacDonald was jealous of the way Loy looked so she made Loy change dresses. This left Loy running down to wardrobe with a friend where they found a very nice black lace dress. And who just so happens to be the stand out of the whole ball? Jeanette MacDonald who, now?
Although the film was slow I did enjoy watching Maurice Chevalier perform. The only other time I have ever seen him in a film was Gigi and by that time he was much older. He was wonderful but I had some difficulty understanding him his accent was so thick. I really liked the scene where he is singing “Isn’t it Romantic” (which I cannot hear without thinking of the movie Haunted Honeymoon) and we see him singing it through a three paneled mirror. I liked the way that was filmed it added a little bit more.
The rest of the film is quite a bore. Jeanette MacDonald was so outrageously annoying along with these three old biddies who were whining and almost fainting over everything. I just wanted it to end.
Many scenes were cut out in 1949 because of “decency.” Myrna Loy’s only singing part in any of her films was cut out during a reprise of the song “Mimi” because her naval could be seen through her “revealing” nightgown (even Myrna Loy was mad about this). Yeah, the censors back then would have a panic attack if they could see what was getting through today. There was also another song taken out and mentions of “virgin springs.” Thank you very much Mr. Joseph Breen for taking out these parts, you pain in the ass. The missing scenes have been deemed lost.
Love Me Tonight is worth seeing at least once. It is interesting to see this Pre-code musical especially because sound was still in its infancy and not yet perfected. Myrna Loy is reason enough to sit through it since she stole the whole film.
If you do not have an interest in seeing the entire thing of Love Me Tonight just to see Myrna Loy watch this video: