8 September 2005 | theowinthrop
But Oh That Mitzi....
In the second of the four Chevalier - MacDonald films the leads are a married couple (Chevalier is a upper class doctor, of all things) who are happy together. In fact they are first seen preparing for their anniversary party. Both have friends who can spoil this. Chevalier's closest friend is Charlie Ruggles, who secretly loves MacDonald (but who is usually too nervous or intense to get anywhere with her - if she were interested). MacDonald is close to an old school friend, Genevieve Tobin, who is a continuous flirt (one can even consider her a nymphomaniac). She is married to Roland Young, but their marriage is on the rocks because of her affairs (his too - he wants to marry their maid). So MacDonald invites her friend into her home, and Tobin soon is being coquettish towards Chevalier. When she returns home, she asks him to see her on a professional (i.e. medical) problem, and proceeds to try to seduce him. This upsets Chevalier, who tries to remain faithful to MacDonald, but she (blind as she is to what Tobin is doing) insists he help her friend. Young is delighted. He is closing in on a divorce with Tobin. Finally, being weak, Chevalier gives in. MacDonald learns of this, and turns to Ruggles (!). And the film is set for some kind of resolution of these problems in sexual politics.
The music is best recalled for the title tune, "One Hour With You". It would pop up for years in Paramount film musicals (in DUCK SOUP, it is played in the sequence when Harpo Marx is doing a "Paul Revere" ride to rally the countryside, only to stop at his girlfriend's for "one hour with her."). It also appeared as the national love song of Klopstokia in MILLION DOLLAR LEGS, with Jack Oakie singing the words, "Woof bootle gik..." instead of the original words to it. However, the number that gets me is the one mentioned in the "Summary" line, which Chevalier sings to explain to the audience his dilemma regarding his loyalties to his wife versus the fascination of the beguiling Tobin. In all of his films in the 1930s he would sing some tune that dealt with the heroine or another woman: "Mimi" in LOVE ME TONIGHT is an example, as is "Louise". "MITZI" is another example of this.
The Lubitsch touch is shown throughout. One of the best moments is when Ruggles is talking to MacDonald about attending a party at their home, and learns it is a dinner party, not the costume party he is dressed for. He turns to his butler, and demands to know why he told Ruggles it was a costume party. "Oh sir," says the giggling butler, "I so wanted to see you in tights!" With bits like that sprinkled about, this film is a small treasure.