Credited as the first integrated screen musical (as opposed to revues and backstage ones), with the singing serving and commenting on the narrative, "The Love Parade" is technically superior to most early talkies and far more entertaining. On top of this, Maurice Chevalier was among the first performers in the sound era to break the fourth wall, winking at the camera, addressing the audience, and looking directly at the camera during song to serenade the spectator, further commenting on the narrative.
The plot of "The Love Parade" is what would become, as film historians and theorists like Rick Altman ("The American Film Musical") have argued, the classic dual-focus narrative, where the film alternates between scenes and songs of the story's romantic duo. Unlike other genres, the focus of the musical becomes the contrasts between these two, beginning with the obvious male/female dichotomy as well as various subordinate conflicts: in this case, the battle of the sexes takes on a bit of a class struggle, reaching all the way to the fictional nation's sovereign, which is further annotated by a secondary coupling between servants, who are both narratively and socially second class to the main romance between the Queen and the Prince Consort. Mostly, the servants, as well as the Queen's advisors, content themselves with observing and commenting on the royal courtship. The main benefit of their existences seemingly being that they may perform some slapstick routines during their musical numbers. The servants and advisors, however, do serve an interesting purpose as the spectator's on-screen surrogates, as they likewise view the main romance involving Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald. When the Queen and Prince Consort resort to on-screen spectator surrogates, they're also performers, attending a ballet--a musical within a musical--to secure the country's fate, although the Prince also exploits the situation to ogle ballerinas much to the Queen's consternation.
Class hierarchies are only subordinate here to ones of gender, with the main conflict being that the Prince Consort is unhappy as the Queen's plaything. Despite the potential this gender-reversal plot provides for rethinking the role of women and the traditional view of wife as plaything, the ultimate resolution and restoration of order to the kingdom seems patriarchal (contrary to what some critics claim), with the Queen groveling to her newly-appointed "King." Plus, the gender imbalance is registered from the start, as soon as Chevalier enters the picture and addresses the audience--fourth wall breaking being entirely within man's domain here. Regardless, the more interesting conflict is musical, with matching solo scenes and uniting duets: between the heavenly, operatic voice of MacDonald and the bodily, down-to-earth and intimate crooning of Chevalier.
Director Ernst Lubitsch was a master in his day not only of filmmaking in general, but of sexual innuendo. The French connection, beginning the story in Paris and the role of the French Chevalier is important to this. The opening Parisian sequence, indeed, bears little relevance on the subsequent plot except to establish Chevalier's sexual exploits, but the closed-door opening and the gun play humorously exploit audience expectations and the role of sound in that and in relation to the once almost exclusively-visual form of silent film--and is rather the opposite of the film's final visual touch of Chevalier's wink and theatrical closing of the curtains (somewhat as well as Ben Turpin's cross-eyed cameo). There are also some jokes involving the fictional Kingdom of Sylvania and its native inhabitant played by Chevalier having a French accent, while the rest of the country is populated by Americans and Brits. Chevalier tells a joke of a cold he had and a doctor's wife, which the film cuts away from, leaving to our imaginations the details for his acquiring a French accent. Meanwhile, Chevalier's valet is a Frenchman, but is played by the English Lupino Lane. Additionally, there are a few little cultural gags of interest (e.g. the tour buss and radio commercial).
Technically, "The Love Parade" is remarkable given the near inability to edit soundtracks at the time. Crosscutting between duets of singers in two separate locations required the simultaneous filming of two separate sets while the orchestra performed live. I'm assuming that the "March of the Grenadiers," which features an extensive montage, involved some dubbing, too. While the pace of Lubitsch's films surely slowed down and the amount of scene dissection decreased during his early musicals compared to his silent films, it's still impressive how much of the visual style, especially based on looks, he retains from that era. Perhaps because Lubitsch was already a master filmmaker, whose silent films were also frequently adapted from operettas ("The Merry Jail" (1917) and "So This is Paris" (1926), e.g.), he didn't have the same difficulties as other filmmakers in adjusting to talkies; "The Love Parade" was merely Lubitsch's first operetta with the addition of sound. Little is subtracted in that addition. The sets, especially the Queen's boudoir, are opulent, and the "director of doors" continued to pay close attention to the photography and cutting around the set's giant entryways, including their function in the system of looks by servants spying through keyholes--as well as windows. The gorgeous costumes or lack thereof, especially MacDonald appearing in a negligee and a bath, complete the film's reliance on the male gaze.