Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sweehearts (1938)



"Six years with you are like six minutes- six minutes without you are like six years."

            After I saw Love Me Tonight starring Jeanette MacDonald and Maurice Chevalier I swore I would never sit through one of her films. She got on my nerves so bad I thought she was a bad actress and her operatic singing annoyed me. But what have I wound up doing? I wound up watching another Jeanette MacDonald film. I am a tumblr nerd and most of the Old Hollywood blogs I follow are fans of hers so I got curious and decided to give MacDonald another try. Well I have to admit I am glad that I gave the actress another chance because Sweethearts was so enjoyable and MacDonald was so funny and adorable.
            It is the sixth anniversary of the hit Broadway show Sweethearts. In those six years the lead stars have been real life husband and wife Gwen Marlowe (MacDonald) and Ernest Lane (Nelson Eddy). They love each other more than they did when they first started the show. Every day Ernest leaves little love notes under Gwen’s door and she has kept every single one.
            Before the show runner and stage manager Felix Lehman (Frank Morgan) has his hands full with trying to keep a Hollywood talent agent Norman Trumpett (Reginald Gardiner) from getting close to his leading stars to lure them out west. Without his “kiddies” as he calls Gwen and Ernest, there will be no show.
            After the show all Gwen and Ernest want to do is go out to a quiet little restaurant by themselves without having to hear any of the songs from the show or be bothered by people looking for autographs. Their plan almost works but Felix guilts them into coming to a party he organized for the anniversary. The party turns out to be an extravaganza that is broadcasted live throughout the nation and the pair wind up having to sing a song from the show. Since Trumpett cannot get to them at the theater he calls up the restaurant to have the Lane’s chauffer sent home and he and his chauffer will pick them up. Trumpett’s plan works, he puts the irresistible idea of leaving New York and Broadway to go out to Hollywood to make pictures at their leisure in their heads. As soon as Gwen and Ernest walk through the door of their home they are immediately bombarded by their families. Both sets of parents were once stars of Broadway and never let each other forget that as they act all theatrically crazy and conceited. The parents also have Ernest and Gwen’s life planned for them without even consulting them. They have enough and call Trumpett to tell them they are going to Hollywood.
            Felix is distraught over his “kiddies” abandoning him. He, the writer of the play Leo, the conductor, and another manager want to find a way to keep Ernest and Gwen in the city. Leo comes up with the idea to tell Gwen about a play he has written and to use Ernest’s letters. As Gwen is packing Leo comes to her saying he has a new idea for a play he wants to run by her. Gwen listens and she recognizes some lines from her husband’s notes to her. She asks Leo where he got them and he says from a lady in the strictest confidence because they were written by a married man.
            Gwen has a fit thinking Ernest was writing the same letters he wrote to her to another woman. She thinks who the other woman could be and then realizes she is their personal assistant Kay Jordan. She just happens to look outside when Ernest picks Kay up and kisses her. He runs upstairs to tell Gwen that Kay has decided to go to Hollywood with them but Gwen is too upset to be bothered by him. Gwen walks into Kay’s to looks around for any letters. She sees Ernest slip a note under the door saying that if she were to look in the mirror she would see his favorite person. Gwen storms out of the room. Kay walks in and so does Ernest and he asks her if she got the note with the saying to be engraved on a vanity case for Gwen.
            On the night of their last show Trumpett comes backstage with a group of lawyers with the Hollywood contract for the couple to sign. Gwen tells Trumpett she no longer wants to go out to Hollywood but Ernest will happily go out. Ernest comes in and Gwen just lays into him and he has no idea why. Their confrontation forces them to miss their opening for the first time since the show started.
            Felix and Leo’s plan works. Felix has another idea using the two understudies. He breaks Gwen and Ernest up sending them each out on their own tour of Sweethearts with the understudies. The couple are sad and lonely without the other. Gwen’s mother reads the review of Leo’s new play that was based on the situation he put Gwen and Ernest in. Gwen realizes that that was the same situation she and Ernest and in. Ernest apparently read the same article and they each try to call each other but get a busy signal. Eventually Ernest gets through and they apologize to one another.
            Back in New York Ernest and Gwen go to Felix to tell them they are going out to California but once again he guilts them into coming back to the show.
            The story was so cute and so much fun to watch. It sounds like a mushy romantic musical comedy MGM pushed out by the thousands and it is but it is not overly romantic or silly and none of the acting by any of the actors seemed forced.
            Jeanette MacDonald was a panic. Sometimes she was a bit too much but for the most part she was so funny. Her facial expressions cracked me up especially when she gives this big phony smile to Ernest when they are singing a song at the piano. Nelson Eddy was good but I really did not think anything of him as an actor. MacDonald and Eddy’s chemistry was fantastic you can completely tell that they liked each other romantically in real life. The one part I cracked up with both of them was when Gwen and Ernest just want to go up to best. As they head for the staircase they make like they are two old tired people and put on these funny faces. This is odd but I could have totally have done without their singing. I know that their films together were musicals but their singing started to bother me after a while. I like both of them very much as actors I liked their scenes were they were just talking. There was one number that I liked called “Pretty as a Picture” because they were both very good and funny in it.    
 
            The rest of the cast was very good. It was cool to see Frank Morgan and Ray Bolger in a short scene together since the next year they were be in The Wizard of Oz together.
            Sweethearts was so much fun to sit through. I am glad that I gave Jeanette MacDonald another chance and I look forward to seeing more of her films with and without Nelson Eddy. Sweethearts is a cute musical comedy that does not go overboard story wise and makes you feel so happy when it is over.