A stage play once confined within the liberal proscenium of the New Amsterdam theatre (NY), where Marilyn Miller scintillated for the Ziegfeld management, Rosalie breaks through the chrysalis of celluloid as a mammoth fantasy.
Nelson Eddy is a line-plunging West Point cadet-baritone; Eleanor Powell, a dancing Balkan princess; Frank Morgan and Edna May Oliver, amusing musical comedy king and queen; and a light operetta story.
Opening shots (from the newsreels) show 80,000 cheering maniacs at an army-navy football game. Down on the field Eddy intercepts a pass, changes his pace, dodges a tackler and scores for army.
Scene changes to a Vassar dormitory, where Powell is telling her classmates that Eddy is a conceited young man whom she never wishes to see again. Soon, however, she hears his voice in a serenade. They make a date to meet at festival time in the Balkan capital, come next spring.
It is in the festival scenes that Rosalie really shows its cinematic girth. Setting for the peasant’s folk dances seems as big as Soldiers’ Field, Chicago, which means there are hundreds of Albertina Rasch dancers, thousands of costumed extras and innumerable others. In the midst of this ensemble Powell does an acrobatic tap atop some massive drums.
While the gaiety is at its height, the red menace of revolution breaks out. The royal family and household escape to America by steamship. Eddy decides to fly back to West Point in his airplane. The distinguished visitors are entertained at the Academy, where Powell masquerades as a cadet.
Cole Porter has written new music and lyrics. Ray Bolger, a good comedian and rated tops among legit dancers, is the real discovery in Rosalie. His humor is clean, unforced and spontaneous.