It’s a 100% credit to all concerned, principally Ernst Lubitsch on his production and direction, which required no little courage to carry out the continuity idea. The unorthodoxy concerns Maurice Chevalier’s interpolated, confidential asides to his audience, in the Strange Interlude manner, although in an altogether gay spirit. Chevalier periodically interrupts the romantic sequence to come downscreen for a close-up to intimately address the ‘ladies and gentlemen’ as to his amorous problems.
It starts first with the opening scene in the Bois de Boulogne of Paris where Chevalier and his bride (Jeanette MacDonald) of three years are caught necking. The gendarme won’t believe it’s legal so they retire to their home where, in a boudoir scene, Chevalier interrupts just in time for that first aside to tell the audience that they really are married.
From then on Genevieve Tobin in an obvious ‘make’ role completes the triangle, with Chevalier periodically soliloquizing in a chatty, intimate manner (taking the audience into his marital confidence, so to speak) on what is he to do under the circumstances.
The excellent script [from the play by Lothar Schmidt] is replete with many niceties and touches which Lubitsch has skillfully dovetailed, without overdoing the detail. On top of that, Jeanette MacDonald is a superb vis-a-vis for the star, intelligently getting her song lyrics over in a quiet, chatty manner.
1931/32: Nomination: Best Picture