17 April 2017 | bkoganbing
Vienna's digging jazz now
Paramount's entry in the great soprano sweepstakes of the 30s was Gladys Swarthout whom they hoped hoped to make a star like MGM's Jeanette MacDonald. They never quite succeeded and tried with five films. After that Swarthout went back to the Metropolitan Opera.
Champagne Waltz which never got further than establishing shots of Vienna has Swarthout as one of the descendants of the great Johann Strauss. She and her father Fritz Leiber run a nightclub where one can waltz to those Strauss melodies.
But swing is now king in Vienna and a new swing club run by Herman Bing has booked an American swing band headed by Fred MacMurray who gets a chance in this film to play the saxophone. They're driving the waltz palace bankrupt and MacMurray thinks that's great until he meets the beautiful Ms. Swarthout. But he does not dare tell her he's the man trampling on Viennese traditions.
Opera fans got to hear Gladys sing, MacMurray play the sax and a gamut of musical forms. Jack Oakie is in this as well as MacMurray's press agent and I thought he and Bing as Oakie's character is named Gallagher were going to break into Gallagher and Shean.
One might also want to view the 90s film Swing Kids that starred Christian Bale and Robert Sean Leonard which is about 30s kids in the Third Reich that liked American swing. In the year Champagne Waltz came out Austria joined the Reich and musical tastes became state prescribed. Ironic to remember that as one watches 1937's Champagne Waltz.