Monte Carlo (1930)

Love Parade was fine, but 109 minutes of it was slightly much. Monte Carlo improves on it by being 20 minutes shorter, and an improved sense of pace is definitely apparent. Also, the music this time round is markedly better, “Beyond the Blue Horizon” becoming a particular hit in a way that I don’t think any of the songs from the previous film could’ve done… Anyway, we begin with Jeanette MacDonald fleeing marriage this time rather than trying to get into one, ending up in Monte Carlo with not a lot of money in her purse and not much luck adding to that sum at the gambling tables; she attracts the interest of a visiting count but doesn’t reciprocate it, so he hits upon the novel idea of posing as a hairdresser to get close to her. The credits list Booth Tarkington’s Monsieur Beaucaire as a partial source for the film (otherwise mostly taken from some German play), which leads to one of the funnier examples of the play-within-a-play device commenting on the action of the play it’s embedded in I’ve seen when the countess goes to an operatic rendition of the tale near the film’s end. The DVD notes reckon Jack Buchanan’s not exactly a match for the unavailable Maurice Chevalier, and he’s not exactly the world’s finest singer here, but I thought he was OK generally; anyway, MacDonald’s countess is really the main figure and she’s fine at this sort of thing. Unlike the previous film, there’s no secondary couple, although Claud Allister is good as the cloddish duke the countess flees from marrying (this is her third such attempt to escape him, and with good reason). Like I said, though, the film’s comparative brevity is what serves it best; I don’t know if Lubitsch set out to make it shorter than Love Parade, but it was a good move anyway. Not terribly consequential, but good fun.

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