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  • Clearly influenced by the German musical comedies of the time, William Dieterle's first American film is a delightful pre-code musical comedy starring Marilyn Miller, of the Ziegfeld Follies. The real treat is the fun performances by such early comic legends of the stage and screen like W.C. Fields, Leon Errol, Ford Sterling and Chester Conklin. Songs add to the atmosphere of the story. The most notable aspect of this film is the technical brilliance of the cinematography and editing. Filmed with a much more fluid camera than the average film of 1931, with many scenes transitioned by brilliant dissolves. Worth the watch if you can find it.
  • lugonian27 January 2009
    HER MAJESTY, LOVE (First National, 1931), directed by William Dieterle, is a romantic comedy (with music) starring Broadway legend Marilyn Miller (1898-1936) in her third and final motion picture. With the support by such comic legends as W.C. Fields and Leon Errol of the Ziegfeld Follies with some silent motion pictures to their name, and silent screen veterans Ford Sterling and Chester Conklin, one might have expected a hilarious comedy with a slapstick cut to the chase finish, but instead, a weak attempt duplicating the sophisticated style of Paramount's own director Ernst Lubitsch. Dieterle, like Lubitsch, Europeans by birth, may not have had the Lubitsch touch nor the grace and charm of popular stars as Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald to carry the story, but does provide this American production with European flair substituting the traditional fade-outs with immediate dissolves, the most notable being the scattering of papers thrown in the air becoming flying pigeons scattering about in Venice. For Marilyn Miller, a Ziegfeld Follies girl who rose to fame singing and dancing in Broadway hits and early screen appearances of SALLY (1929) and SUNNY (1930), this time acquiring an original screenplay based on an old German silent where her singing and dancing are limited, leaving much of the vocalizing to the uncredited Donald Novis, and limited ballroom dancing with her leading man, Ben Lyon.

    The simple plot focuses on Lia Toerrek (Marilyn Miller), a charming blonde Hungarian girl attending bar in Germany's Berlin Cabaret. Because no man is able to get her to dance with them, Fred (Ben Lyon), a wealthy businessman for the family owned Von Wellingen Ball Bearing Foundary, makes a wager with friends that he'll make a hit with the girl, which he does. Immediately attracted to one another, they become engaged on the second meeting, which doesn't rest well with Fred's snobbish family, particularly his business-oriented brother, Otmar (Ford Sterling), who much prefers he marry a rich girl instead. During the engagement party, both families are gathered together, with Lia's father, Bela (W.C. Fields), a former vaudevillian now a barber, disturbs the cultured class by getting drunk and juggling dinner plates and fruit. Finding the Toerreks not of their social class, Otmar has Fred sign an agreement that promises him promotion as general manager if he calls off his engagement with Lia. When Lia learns of this, she arrives at the next dinner party uninvited to tell Fred and his family where they can go. During Fred's venture in Venice to forget his troubles, Lia accepts the proposal from Baron Von Schwarzdorf (Leon Errol), a millionaire playboy married and divorced six times, much to Toerrek's delight but dismay for Lia, who's unable to forget about her majesty love.

    HER MAJESTY, LOVE shows great promise during its opening minutes in the cabaret where patrons are seen popping balloons, singing and dancing, as Lia looks cheerfully on, but once the gaiety stops and plot development begins, the story dulls itself with talk, slow pacing and lack of underscoring to set the mood. The songs are satisfactory, though not as legendary as those composed for Miller by Jerome Kern. With music and lyrics by Walter Jurmann and Al Dubin, songs include: "You're Busy Minded Now" (recited by Leon Errol, sung by Marilyn Miller); "Because of You" (introduced by Ben Lyon, sung by Donald Novis); "Don't Ever Be Blue," (sung by Novis); "Because of You" (sung by Miller); "Though You're Not the First Wine" (sung by Novis, ballroom dance by Miller and Lyon) and "Though You're Not the First Wine" (reprise by Novis).

    As a featured showcase for Marilyn Miller and Ben Lyon, HER MAJESTY, LOVE offers third billed W.C. Fields little opportunity to either be funny or perform in the true Fields manner. For his first feature film since 1928, and sole venture at Warners/ First National Studios, he arrives 23 minutes into the 74 minute production sporting a mustache (for the final time on screen) and glasses, with an attempt speaking with a German accent, which he soon loses as the film progresses. His character is basically straight, unlike others of familiarity. The engagement party sequences draws attention where Fields becomes traditional Fields, uncouth among the snobbish rich (a similar scene that was improved with his leading 1939 Universal comedy, YOU CAN'T CHEAT AN HONEST MAN), juggling plates and fruit at the dinner table, and reciting his most famous catch phrases, "Think nothing of it" and "Nothing, really." His brief scenes opposite Leon Errol offer nothing in true essence of comedy highlights. Chester Conklin, in German style haircut, has even little to do as well. Overlooking that and accepting this as a formula romantic story with American actors being more American than European, HER MAJESTY, LOVE should be satisfactory.

    Other members of the cast consists of future candidates in Fields future film-comedies as Clarence Wilson (Cousin Cornelius) and Maude Eburne (Aunt Hattie), and Irving Bacon as a valet cheated out of his tip by Fields.

    Of the three Marilyn Miller screen musicals, only HER MAJESTY, LOVE was distributed to commercial television, notably on Philadelphia's own WPHL, Channel 17, the home of the Warner Brothers film library prior to 1975. In later years HER MAJESTY, LOVE turned on Ted Turner's cable stations as Turner Network Television (1989) and Turner Classic Movies after its 1994 premiere. With SALLY and SUNNY added to its lineup, TCM became the place for film buffs and historians to get to see and study the complete filmography of Marilyn Miller. (**)
  • Her Majesty Love was both the final film of Broadway star Marilyn Miller who could not translate her appeal from the stage to the screen in three tries. Not even the fact that she was romantically involved with studio head Jack Warner could save her career as Warner put business before the bedroom and terminated her contract.

    This is a remake of a German film made the same year. In it Marilyn is a bartender at a top Berlin nightclub where she meets and falls in love with Ben Lyon, a young playboy whose family made a fortune in ball bearings. One sight of Marilyn and Lyon loses his bearings.

    Marilyn and Lyon were at one time an item themselves and they do have good chemistry. At Marilyn's insistence, Jack Warner got W.C. Fields from Paramount who had not done anything in sound except for one short subject at RKO. Miller knew him from the Follies and admired his talent and she got him for the supporting role as her father.

    Because Fields is in a supporting part his fans will no doubt be disappointed there isn't more of him. What there is is cherce as someone else in another picture said. His drunkeness and his juggling act from the circus gross out Lyon's snooty relatives.

    The film however impressed Paramount executives to realize what a dimension in the talent of W.C. Fields they'd been missing. That's when he started getting those roles in the famous classics he made for Paramount and Universal. I'm sure Adolph Zukor thanked Jack Warner for doing this favor for him.

    Leon Errol is in the film too and he's a drunken playboy who has hopes of nailing Marilyn on the rebound as Lyon's relatives put a kabosh on the romance. He's surprisingly subdued and a bit more serious in a role he'd play over and over again.

    The film flopped and Marilyn left Hollywood. She made a big comeback on Broadway in Irving Berlin's As Thousands Cheer, introducing Easter Parade with Clifton Webb.

    Still Her Majesty Love is not a bad film and it's a chance to see a rarely shown Fields film for his fans and one of three chances to see one of the biggest musical stars of the Twenties in Marilyn Miller.
  • Anyone who (reasonably)expects to see Marilyn Miller dance, other than two brief ballroom partner dances, or to sing more than a few lines, is bound to be disappointed. It's difficult enough to imagine her as a bartender in a 1920s Berlin cabaret. The script falls somewhere between romantic comedy and soap opera. Miller, charming when she does her own thing, has limited talent for either comedy or drama not alleviated by musical sequences. Not surprisingly, the liveliest and strongest cast member is W.C.Fields, who does his familiar turn of shocking the "snobs" of high society. Clarence Wilson is also effective.
  • Marilyn Miller is absolutely charming as a girl from a Berlin barwho's woo'd by a bored rich boy. Ben Lyon is fine in that role. Leon Erol as his uncle is delightful -- the same character he was to play over and over, but this was pre-Code; and here is really is a dirty old man drooling over his young conquest.

    W.C. Fields (not a personal favorite in his more famous outings) gives a restrained and appealing performance as Miller's father.
  • Some great stars magic from other mediums just don't translate to the screen. Mary Martin is an example, another is the star of this film, Marilyn Miller. A huge stage star in the 20's and 30's famed for her magnetism and winsome personality, though behind the scenes apparently a horrendous dragon of a woman, she comes across as ordinary on film. Her singing is a tad shrill and her face photographs flatly. She only made three films all of which were successful but whatever their appeal was to audiences of the time doesn't come through very strongly today.

    The film's story is nothing special just another one of romantic misunderstanding though it does have the advantage of W.C. Fields as Marilyn's father, displaying all the qualities that Miller is missing.

    Probably the most interesting aspect of the picture is that leading man Ben Lyon many years after this had become a casting agent at 20th Century Fox and took a young starlet under his wing. Telling her she reminded him of Marilyn Miller he suggested she take that as her professional name, Miller having died about six years after this film. She demurred on taking the full name but adopted the first and using her maternal grandmother's maiden name as her last became Marilyn Monroe.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A remake of a popular German film of 1930 directed by Joe May, this movie directed by William Dieterle (making his second English language film) is a big disappointment all around, but especially for Marilyn Miller fans. It turned out to be her last film too, as she returned to the Broadway stage and then died in hospital due to infection from a sinus operation in 1936. Fortunately, this movie opens on all the right keys –very bright and breezy in its Berlin cabaret scenes, but inclined to slow down when that tired plot about the rich playboy who wants to marry a poor barmaid, takes the upper hand. However, there are compensations, namely W.C. Fields as the lady's father and Leon Errol as her aged but aristocratic suitor. Alas, once the plot takes hold of the movie, Marilyn Miller exercises little of her legendary charisma. Co-star Ben Lyon is a big disappointment too. He plays his role perfectly straight as if he were acting in a serious drama instead of what should have transpired as a light and breezy musical comedy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    "Her Majesty, Love" was Marilyn Miller's last chance at film fame but unfortunately it was not to be. She had come to the movies with a lot of fanfare, being the most dazzling star on Broadway during the 1920s, and her first film, an adaptation of her greatest stage success "Sally, didn't disappoint. Her next film "Sunny" was a different story, being in black and white and shorn of most of the songs that had made it so beloved on stage. It was made in the days when people were starting to stay away from musicals.

    "Her Majesty, Love" wasn't based on an old silent but on a frothy German comedy from the same year (1931). I haven't seen this particular movie but I have seen a couple of films with the star, Kathe von Nagy and she had a bright and bubbly personality. The atmosphere of the Berlin cabaret is captured to perfection in the opening scenes as Lia (Marilyn Miller) and her "bar buddies" sing "You're Baby Minded Now". Along comes Fred (Ben Lyon, a former boyfriend of Marilyn Miller) singing "Because of You" and hoping he can thaw Lia's icy demeanor - he wants to dance, she wants a wedding ring. Singer Donald Novis furthers the narrative with "Don't Ever Be Blue".

    Fred is the black sheep of a family of industrialists, the board of directors is composed of elderly relatives, including a lively Count (Leon Errol) who thinks Lia is a real woman and would jump at the chance to marry her. He soon gets his chance. Fred has proposed to Lia but when his stuffy brother (Ford Sterling) offers him a directorship and 10,000 marks a month on condition that he calls off his engagement he reluctantly agrees.

    If people went to the cinema hoping to see a Marilyn Miller spectacular, they went home disappointed. Not only were all the songs sung within the first 20 minutes, the only time Marilyn got to dance was in a pretty uninspired tango ("Though You're Not the First One") with Ben Lyon. Maybe the fact that she injured her knee during rehearsals, accounted for her lack of dancing in the movie. The only reason this movie is remembered today is for W.C. Field's clowning - and even he was kept on a leash!! He and Miller had been in the Ziegfeld Follies together and when they bumped into each other in Hollywood she asked him if he would play her father in an upcoming film. He apparently said "Not only your father, but your grandfather as well"!! He was still wearing the clip on moustache from his vaudeville days and was able to re-create his juggling act that had made his name decades before. In my opinion it is the best part of the movie. Apparently he earned the best notices as well, although critics didn't fault any of the actors so much as the slight story. After this movie Warner Bros. and Marilyn Miller parted company, Marilyn to go back to Broadway where she wowed audiences with "As Thousands Cheer".