The Merry Widow

Overview

Ernst Lubitsch directs the 1934 musical comedy The Merry Widow, based on the 1905 operetta by Franz Lehar. In 1885, King Achmed George Barbier strives to protect the financial interests of his small, poor kingdom of Marshovia in Central Europe. When the kingdom's wealthiest widow, Sonia Jeanette MacDonald, goes off to Paris, the king sends the village's greatest lover, Prince Danilo Maurice Chevalier, off to marry her. The king demands that Danilo must romance and marry Sonia so she will return to the small ...
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Overview

Ernst Lubitsch directs the 1934 musical comedy The Merry Widow, based on the 1905 operetta by Franz Lehar. In 1885, King Achmed George Barbier strives to protect the financial interests of his small, poor kingdom of Marshovia in Central Europe. When the kingdom's wealthiest widow, Sonia Jeanette MacDonald, goes off to Paris, the king sends the village's greatest lover, Prince Danilo Maurice Chevalier, off to marry her. The king demands that Danilo must romance and marry Sonia so she will return to the small kingdom with her riches. If he doesn't succeed, he'll be arrested. While in Paris, Danilo is distracted from his royal task when he finds himself in the company of many lovely Parisian women. Unbeknownst to him, one of the ladies is really Sonia pretending to be an escort girl. After a dance number and some songs, the Ambassador Edward Everett Horton announces that they are to be married. When Sonia refuses to marry Danilo, he is arrested and sent back to the small kingdom. Eventually Sonia returns to Marshovia, where she visits him in jail. She testifies on his behalf and they are finally married. The Merry Widow was filmed several other times, including the 1925 silent version directed by Erich Von Stroheim and the1952 version starring Fernando Lamas as Danilo.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
The apparent goal of MGM in adapting The Merry Widow as a vehicle for Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier was to emulate movies such as Love Me Tonight, which they'd made at Paramount -- they even got Lorenz Hart, who'd co-authored the music from that film, to adapt the score for this production. And in the main it works as one of the best of the early MGM musicals, with memorably charming numbers amid a glittering setting, spiced with engaging moments of romantic comedy and misunderstanding (this is, after all, an adaptation of an operetta). The only reservation may be that there's nothing here as clever in design or execution as what Rouben Mamoulian achieved in Love Me Tonight. Not that it's the fault of director Ernst Lubitsch -- it's more a matter of MGM weighing the proceedings down a bit in sheer opulence and sheer scope of the production, as though the studio never quite wants you to forget that this is an MGM picture. As a result, it's just a little clunkier and less light on its feet, in the execution (including the editing) than Mamoulian's earlier effort. Which doesn't mean that The Merry Widow isn't filled with brilliant moments, musical, comedic and otherwise, and have lots of inspiration -- even the supporting cast, forget the two stats, have great moments, and the Franz Lehar music speaks for itself.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 1/2/1993
  • UPC: 027616159038
  • Original Release: 1934
  • Rating:

  • Source: Mgm (Warner)
  • Format: VHS

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Maurice Chevalier Prince Danilo
Jeanette MacDonald Sonia
Edward Everett Horton Ambassador Popoff
Una Merkel Queen Dolorex
George Barbier King Achmed
Minna Gombell Marcelle
Ruth Channing Lulu
Sterling Holloway Mischka
Donald Meek Valet
Herman Bing Zizipoff
John Miller Drunk
John Merkyl
Ferdinand Munier Jailer
Wedgewood Nowell Lackey
George Lewis
Barbara Leonard Maid
George Magrill
Caryl Lincoln
Jacques Lory Goatman
Connie Lamont Maxim Girl
Frank Sheridan Judge
Akim Tamiroff Maxim's Manager
Evelyn Selbie Newspaper Woman
Rolfe Sedan Gabrielovitsch
Peggy Watts
Morgan Wallace Prosecuting Attorney
Luana Walters Sonia's Maid
Albert Pollet Head Waiter
Lucien Prival Adamovitch
Charles Requa
Russell Powell
Hector V. Sarno Gypsy Leader
Jan Rubini Violinist
Jason Robards Sr. Arresting Officer
Matty Roubert Newsboy
Dewey Robinson
Dorothy Wilson
Nora Cecil Animal Woman
Richard Carle Defense Attorney
A.S. Byron Doorman
Claudia Coleman Wardrobe Mistress
Shirley Chambers
Lane Chandler Soldier
Gino Corrado
Henry Armetta Turk
Barbara Barondess
Lona Andre Sonia's Maid
Tyler Brooke
Sheila Bromley
George Baxter Ambassador
Cosmo Kyrle Bellew Escort
Leonid Kinskey Shepherd
Winter Hall Priest
Roger Gray
Dorothy Granger
Perry Ivins Waiter
Arthur Houseman
Eleanor Hunt
Dorothy Dehn
Paul Ellis Dancer
Patricia Farley
Jill Dennett
Billy Gilbert Fat Lackey
Otto H. Fries
Virginia Field Prisoner
Christian J. Frank
Technical Credits
Ernst Lubitsch Director
Adrian Costumes/Costume Designer
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Frederic Hope Art Director
Ali Hubert Costumes/Costume Designer
Franz Lehar Score Composer
Frances Marsh Editor
Oliver Marsh Cinematographer
Samson Raphaelson Screenwriter
Albertina Rasch Choreography
Gabriel Scognamillo Set Decoration/Design
Herbert Stothart Musical Direction/Supervision
Irving G. Thalberg Producer
Ernest Vajda Screenwriter
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
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