Review: ‘Naughty Marietta’

An adaptation of the Victor Herbert operetta [book and lyrics by Rida Johnson Young] which the singing of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy must carry. Much of the original score, plus a couple of added tunes [lyrics by Gus Kahn], is included. There are nine songs, but only one reprise, a martial tune from Eddy and his warriors.

An adaptation of the Victor Herbert operetta [book and lyrics by Rida Johnson Young] which the singing of Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy must carry. Much of the original score, plus a couple of added tunes [lyrics by Gus Kahn], is included. There are nine songs, but only one reprise, a martial tune from Eddy and his warriors.

This operetta tells of a group of girls the French government has endowed before they sail to Louisiana, there to find husbands and build up that colony. The princess (MacDonald) escapes with this group from her tyrannical uncle and the aged suitor he has selected. In New Orleans she falls in love with the captain of the mercenaries (Eddy) and again escapes for a happy finish.

The comedy being insufficient to sustain this much footage, with no especially exciting action, provides serious handicaps. Although Marietta may have been naughty in 1910, if she’s still naughty it’s her secret.

MacDonald sings particularly well and is favored with fine recording and exceptional photography. She also carries her share of the story capably and in her lighter moments gives a hint of what might be.

Picture marks the full-length debut of Eddy who reveals a splendid and powerful baritone with the distinct asset for the camera of not being breathy. Eddy is a tall, nice-looking boy who previously, briefly, appeared in a couple of Metro films. In this picture he sings so often that the script calls for his kidding himself about it.

Frank Morgan does a routine governor, with an eye for an ankle, dominated by his wife. Elsa Lanchester is the wife with an unattractive tendency to mugg her points.

1935: Best Sound Recording.

Nomination: Best Picture

Naughty Marietta

Production

M-G-M. Director W.S. Van Dyke; Producer Hunt Stromberg; Screenplay J.L. Mahin, Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett; Camera William Daniels; Editor Blanche Sewell; Music Herbert Stothart (adapt.)

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1935. Running time: 105 MIN.

With

Jeanette MacDonald Nelson Eddy Frank Morgan Elsa Lanchester Douglass Dumbrille Joseph Cawthorne
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