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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Princess and Her Wardrobe

Love Me Tonight (1932) on IMDb

Plot Overview

Paris awakens with its various rhythms until someone puts on the gramophone, and then “The Song of Paree” begins in earnest. Viscount Gilbert de Varèze (Charlie Ruggles), semi-dressed and fleeing a jealous husband, ducks into a shop: Maurice Courtelin, Tailleur, for some sartorial repair. His credit is good with Maurice (Maurice Chevalier)—“I don't give a stitch / If I don't get rich”—, but when the viscount turns out to be a dead­beat, Maurice travels to the country estate of the guy's uncle The Duke (C. Aubrey Smith) to get paid.

There the viscount compels him to stay with them under the guise of a baron (and then an emir) until the money can be found. He hits it off with the Duke and manages to woo the aloof Princess Jeanette (Jeanette Mac Donald) who is unaware of his lowly trades­man station. Finding the princess attired in a misfit riding habit, the tailor has a few tricks up his sleeve, more than one would expect of a noble­man who is used to having others do for him.


1 Corinthians 7Although this plot deals with a classic princess & pauper matchup, it is eminently applicable (by analogy) to a mixed marriage of Christian to non-christian. The seventh chapter of 1st Corinthians is where Paul addresses mixed marriages—and other marriage issues. He does so in a series of answers to the Corinthians' questions, (1Cor. 7:1) “Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me:” and lacking any record of their particular questions, we may at least proceed to marry the answers with questions that suggest them­selves else­where in scripture. (I'd done them all in another study.) The Princess had been married at age 16 to aged royalty who died three years later at 72. Now at age 22 she is subject to fainting spells, and her doctor recommends, “The Princess ought to be married to a man of her own age.” Easier said than done for royalty, and some­times for a Christian, too, whose church is particular.

The widow question is suggested by, (1Tim. 5:11-12) “But the younger widows refuse: for when they have begun to wax wanton against Christ, they will marry; having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.” In the movie it's embodied by Countess Valentine (Myrna Loy) who is man-crazy, willing to latch onto any non-relative in pants. We don't want to force the widow of 22 to marry an old geezer, but neither does it seem proper that she marry just any­body. Paul's answer is, (1Cor. 7:39) “if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.” The Christian widow may marry any­one of her choosing so long as she is abiding “in the Lord”, i.e. having not “cast off her first faith.” The Princess analogously is, as far as the audience is concerned, permitted to marry anyone of her choosing so long as they are in love.

This expansiveness is strengthened in the scripture where Paul earlier in his letter tells them, (1Cor. 3:21-22) “For all things are yours; Whether … the world, or … things present, or things to come; all are your's.” In the movie a world full of romantic possibilities is suggested by the song, “Isn't It Romantic?” The Pauline justification of mixed marriage, (1Cor. 7:14) “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, … : else were your children unclean; but now are they holy,” is similarly suggested in the movie's song “Mimi” where Maurice sings of loving the son “Mimi” will bear for him.

The plot thickens. According to my Criswell Study Bible, a “Second Corinthians was written some six months later” than First Corinthians. In his second letter to the Corinthians Paul says he's, (2Cor. 4:2) “... not handling the word of God deceit­fully.” An example of deceit can be found when, (Gen. 34:13) “the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.” They told them they were allowed to inter­marry but used it as a ruse to gain an advantage, because actually they weren't allowed. Paul wasn't being deceitful, so after he tells the Corinthians a mixed marriage is permissible, he's not going to tell them six months later it isn't. Paul does, how­ever, ask them the rhetorical question, (2Cor. 6:15) “what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Webster defines “infidel: one who is not a Christian or who opposes Christianity.” The Corinthians have a ready example of such pairings of believers taking part in marriages with unbelievers: the ones they asked Paul about earlier, now minus the couples where the unbelieving spouse either converted or departed, plus Christian marriages where one partner backslid, plus any new mixed marriages entered into in the six month interim, minus deaths, plus or minus moves.

The application to the Christian faith concerns, (2Cor. 6:14) “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: ...” This scriptural injunction is followed (2Cor. 6:15-18) by rhetorical questions about mixing unbeliever practices into Christian worship modes and Christian service. Looking at the mixed couples—they are allowed—the Corinthians can surmise for them­selves how mixtures do not work in Christian activities, because the mixed couples do not mix well there. The parallel in this movie is "the hunt" and playing bridge, two upper class activities. Maurice missed the point when hunting ‘Bambi’, that he's supposed to convert the stag into venison. And Bridge was too boring for him to play it. Similarly, a Christian's unbelieving spouse is not going to rack up many converts in the church activities he partakes in, and he'll find the services too boring to attend. The couple may do other things together okay, but not those. The church observing such incompatibility can conclude they better not mix unbeliever practices into their aggregate worship or service modes.

The complaints leveled at the princess for her mate selection remind me of the importance of the beatitudes, specifically (Matt. 5:7) “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” If one wouldn't like, say, a text message of his taken out of context and used to disrupt his life, then he shouldn't take a proof text about not being unequally yoked, divorced from all context, and apply it to mixed marriages in a way the apostle Paul never said or intended.

Production Values

This film, “Love Me Tonight” (1932) was superbly directed by Rouben Mamoulian. Its screen­play was written by Samuel Hoffenstein, George Marion Jr., and Waldemar Young. It was based on a French boulevard comedy, ‘The Tailor and the Princess’ by Paul Armont and Leopold Marchand. It stars Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, and Charles Ruggles. Maurice Chevalier has impec­cable comedic timing and a very natural screen presence. Jeanette MacDonald worked well with him, using her repertoire of mainly two expressions. Myrna Loy was a riot as a man-hungry dame.

This movie was a pre-Code joy. The music was memorable, the set pieces impressive, and lighting excellent. It was paced very well to a literal metro­nome. It was the first movie to use a zoom lens. It was altogether a well done film.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This musical is what other musicals can only aspire to. It deserves multiple viewings.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action. Suitability for children: Not rated, pre-code. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Good Date Movie. Suspense: A few suspenseful moments. Overall product rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

The Criswell Study Bible. Authorized King James Version. Nashville | Camden: Thomas Nelson Pub., 1979. Print.

Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary. Springfield, Mass.: MERRIAM-WEBSTER. 1984. Print.