14 June 2011 | blanche-2
Ramon and Jeanette, an unlikely team
Silent screen star Ramon Novarro teams up with Jeanette MacDonald in "The Cat and the Fiddle," a 1934 musical film. The film also stars Jean Hersholt, Frank Morgan, and Vivienne Segal.
The story concerns two songwriters, one from a classical background, Victor Florescu (Novarro, and one assumes from that last name, he's from Roumania), and Shirley Sheridan (MacDonald) a young woman from a popular songwriting background who meet. He falls madly in love with her, even turning down a major opportunity with an impresario (Morgan) who turns out to be more interested in Jeanette as a girlfriend.
Eventually Victor wins over Shirley, and the two move in together. Now, I thought the code came in earlier than this, but it appears I'm wrong. I was very surprised when later in the movie, she suggests that they get married because I thought they already were.
Her song becomes a huge hit. Eventually he succumbs to the impresario's pressure to get him out of the picture by breaking up with Shirley. He is convinced that he is holding her back. Victor then gets a big opportunity when a star (Segal) agrees to appear in his operetta. When he refuses to be seduced by her, her husband gives her a choice, the operetta or him, Mr. Money Bags, and she leaves with her husband. Now he's stuck, and he owes money to boot.
This film ran something like one hour and thirty minutes and seemed longer than Battleship Potemkin. This mainly had to do with the casting of Navarro who could just about carry a tune, and when he did, his voice had a tremelo faster than a butterfly's wings.
Jeanette MacDonald, of course, is luminous - beautiful, charming, and in great voice. Navarro did just not have what it took to be her leading man. As stiff as Nelson Eddy was, there was something about the two of them together that had real chemistry. No such thing here.
This is a movie, as someone said here, for Jeanette MacDonald fans only. She's always worth watching, and someone here also mentioned seeing her do King & I. I'm envious.