The Merry Widow

"Of all Lubitsch's operetta adaptations, The Merry Widow is the best. The film was made for MGM but has all the Paramount polish, despite the problems Lubitsch had in getting Cedric Gibbons to fall in with his extravagant demands in the matter of sets. People criticized MGM for allowing Lubitsch to change a frothy romance into a satire on the ludicrousness of sex but the combination of disenchanted dialogue and the lush Franz Lehar music (with lyrics by Lorenz Hart and Gus Kahn) gives this film a formal tension lacking in his earlier efforts. Maurice Chevalier plays the rake Danilo with style and charm, while Jeanette MacDonald as the widow is at the height of her opulent pre-Raphaelite beauty. Her songs are imaginatively directed, and her appearance in the film is, on balance, probably the peak of her career." --John Baxter

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