8 August 2017 | blanche-2
okay if you pretend the characters were fictional
Grace Moore stars with Franchot Tone and Walter Connolly in "The King Steps Out" from 1936. It's directed by the Josef von Sternberg, normally known for more serious fare.
The operetta concerns the Duke of Bavaria (Connolly) bringing his older daughter to Vienna to marry the Emperor Franz Josef. His younger daughter, Sissi, goes along and poses as a dressmaker. She catches the eye of the Emperor, but he doesn't realize she's royalty.
Moore, a Metropolitan Opera star, enjoyed a nine-year film career. She had a beautiful voice and was a vivacious Sissi. Tone is elegant and charming. And the supporting cast is excellent, including Connolly, Victor Jory, and Herman Bing.
There are a couple of problems with this film. The first is that the music isn't great. The second is that the real Emperor Franz Josef was assassinated, as Sissi was 20 years later. A real downer. Plus, they weren't that happy together. If you can pretend these are fictional characters, it's okay.
In Austria and Germany, Sissi is a cult figure on the level of Princess Diana here. Her face appears on products, cookies and jewelry are named after her, there are statues of her, books about her, a play, ballet, as well as a musical and three films about her starring Romy Schneider that are shown at Christmas.
Of note, this was the film debut of 11-year-old Gwen Verdon, who dances in the ballet.