Love Me Tonight

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United States

Love Me Tonight is a 1932 musical comedy film produced and directed by Rouben Mamoulian, with music by Rodgers and Hart. It stars Maurice Chevalier as a tailor who poses as a nobleman and Jeanette MacDonald as a princess with whom he falls in love. It also stars Charles Ruggles as a penniless nobleman, along with Charles Butterworth and Myrna Loy as members of his family.

The film is an adaptation by Samuel Hoffenstein, George Marion Jr. and Waldemar Young of the play by Paul Armont and Léopold Marchand. It features the classic Rodgers and Hart songs "Love Me Tonight", "Isn't it Romantic?", "Mimi", and "Lover". "Lover" is sung not romantically, as it often is in nightclubs, but comically, as MacDonald's character tries to control an unruly horse. The staging of "Isn't It Romantic?" was revolutionary for its time, combining both singing and film editing, as the song is passed from one singer (or group of singers) to another, all of whom are at different locales.

In 1990, Love Me Tonight was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

Contents

Plot

The story describes an encounter between a Parisian tailor named Maurice Courtelin and a family of local aristocrats. These include Viscount Gilbert de Varèze (Ruggles), who owes Maurice a large amount of money for tailoring work; Gilbert's uncle Count de Savignac (Butterworth), the family patriarch; de Savignac's man-hungry niece Valentine (Loy); and his daughter, Princess Jeanette (MacDonald). Jeanette is 22 years old and has been a widow for three years. Her father has been unable to find her a new husband of suitable age and rank.

Maurice custom-tailors clothing for de Varèze on credit, but the Viscount's unpaid tailoring bills become intolerable, so Maurice travels to de Savignac's castle to collect the money owed to him. On the way, he has a confrontation with Princess Jeanette (Jeanette MacDonald). He immediately professes his love for her, but she haughtily rejects him.

When Maurice arrives at the castle, Gilbert introduces him as Baron Courtelin in order to hide the truth from the Count. Maurice is fearful of this scheme at first, but changes his mind when he sees Jeanette. While staying at the castle, he arouses Valentine's desire, charms the rest of the family except for Jeanette, saves a deer's life during a hunt, and continues to woo Jeanette. The Duke d'Artelines (Smith) discovers that Maurice is a fake, but the Viscount then claims that Maurice is a royal who is traveling incognito for security reasons. Finally, Jeanette succumbs to Maurice's charms, telling him "Whoever you are, whatever you are, wherever you are, I love you."

When Maurice criticizes Jeanette's tailor, the family confronts him for his rudeness, only to catch him and Jeanette alone with Jeanette partially undressed. Maurice explains that he is redesigning Jeanette's riding outfit, and he proves this by successfully altering the outfit, but in the process he is forced to reveal his true identity. Despite her earlier promise, Jeanette recoils from him and runs to her room on hearing that he is a commoner. The entire household is outraged, and Maurice leaves. However, as a train carries him back to Paris, Jeanette struggles with her fears, finally realizes her mistake, and catches up to the train on horseback. When the engineer refuses to stop the train, she rides ahead and stands on the track. The train stops, Maurice jumps out, and the two lovers embrace as steam from the train envelops them.

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