Thursday, November 22, 2001


Will wonders never cease? A Nelson Eddy movie that I could watch all the way through! I'd like to be glib and say it's a musical version of DR. ZHIVAGO, but it isn't quite true. There's a lot of singing, mostly from Eddy and his leading lady, Ilona Massey, but most of it is in the setting of a nightclub or opera house. One major exception is a rousing opening number sung on horseback by Eddy and his fellow Cossacks. After an unsteady first minute or so, I was won over by the song and gave myself over to the movie wholeheartedly.

Eddy is a prince and Cossack who falls in love with a singer (and revolutionary) who feels contempt for the royalty, so he disguises himself as a poor music student. They fall in love, but then the war and the Revolution get in the way. There is a street massacre reminsicent of ZHIVAGO, but mostly things are kept on the light side. Charles Ruggles provides comic relief, and he acts and sounds a bit like Clifton Webb (although this was filmed several years before Webb's debut in talkies in LAURA). There is a touching Christmas scene where the Austrian and Russian armies sing "Silent Night" to each other, and the last 15 minutes are set in Paris at Russian New Year's after the Revolution where the royals have gone to live in exile, reduced to working as tailors and waiters. Of course, Eddy and Massey wind up together, although why they do and why it takes so long is never explained. Frank Morgan does nicely in a relatively small part that blossoms during the New Year's scene. Recommended, even if you don't usually like Eddy.

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