Strong impression left by the Jeanette MacDonald-Nelson Eddy twain in Naughty Marietta (1935) is surpassed in Rose-Marie, Metro’s operatic western. Sturdy stage libretto by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II is further enhanced by the scope of the cinematic treatment. There is a wholly satisfying blend of sophisticated behind-the-opera-scenes temperament with the Great Outdoors stuff which comprises much of the ensuing footage as Eddy pursues MacDonald’s scapegrace brother.
Score by Rudolf Friml and Herbert Stothart, the latter also Metro studio musical director (also contributing the maestro-ing on this production), has survived more than a decade since its premiere at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway 2 September 1924. The classic ‘Indian Love Call’ as it re-echoes through the ‘Canadian’ woodlands (actual location at Lake Tahoe on the Cal-Nev border, and very beautiful) means more than it ever did in its stage original. Eddy’s balladeering of the titular ‘Rose-Marie’ as he paddles MacDonald on the trek for the escaped criminal (her brother) is likewise photographically and in other respects enhanced.
The waltz song from Romeo and Juliet is the legit operatic opener [staged by William von Wymetal], wherein Allan Jones, who warbles a nifty tenor on his own, is MacDonald’s vocal vis-a-vis. Femme star has a solo opportunity with ‘Pardon Me, Madame’ (Gus Kahn’s lyric interpolation).