THE MERRY WIDOW (1934) B/W 99m dir: Ernst Lubitsch
w/Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Edward Everett Horton, Una Merkel, George Barbier, Minna Gombell, Ruth Channing, Sterling Holloway, Henry Armetta, Barbara Leonard
Lubitsch's take on this oft-filmed operetta (about a prince who must marry the widow of his wealthiest subject in order to keep the money in the kingdom of Marshovia) is a delight.
From The Movie Guide: "One of the greatest of the screen operettas. After a smashing debut in Austria, Franz Lehar's operetta 'The Merry Widow' was brought to the U.S. in 1907, became a silent two-reeler in 1912, then, in 1925, Erich von Stroheim directed Mae Murray and John Gilbert in an opulent, controversial version in which Clark Gable appeared as an extra. This version, however, is by far the best of the lot. ...
"The best musical helmed by the great Ernst Lubitsch, THE MERRY WIDOW is frothy, funny, and tuneful from start to finish. MacDonald more than holds her own in the comedy department, snapping off lines with Carole Lombard-like expertise. Star Chevalier had played with newcomer MacDonald at Paramount, and though he reputedly never liked her, their pairing here is near perfection. The dancing, choreographed by Albertina Rasch, is as good as it comes and the huge waltz in the embassy ball ranks among the best ensemble pieces ever filmed. Enjoy the opening sequence where Marshovia is found on the map or the 'There's a limit to every widow' scene. 'The Merry Widow' is one of 30 operettas penned by Lehar, and here his music was given new lyrics by Lorenz Hart, Gus Kahn, and an uncredited Richard Rogers."
THE MERRY WIDOW received an Oscar for Best Art Direction (Cedric Gibbons, Frederic Hope).