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  • Bing Crosby plays Lucky Lawton a cowboy millionaire who struck gold on his land and would be considered nouveau riche. He's about to marry a Countess played by Shirley Ross, but a hitch has gone through with her divorce. They both come over to Paris to try and straighten it out.

    While there Crosby buys a castle from Akim Tamiroff in some unknown Balkan town called Pushtalnik. It's also time for Pushtalnik's Rose Festival and the Rose Queen traditionally resides in the castle. That would be Franciska Gaal and she arrives and Crosby has to get rid of her before Ross joins him in wedlock.

    Now if you're already thinking this plot is silly, it is. But that's the kind of thing that was done in the 1930s in Hollywood. And it's the kind of story that Bing Crosby was often asked to carry on the strength of his popularity and charisma. He does this admirably with assist from some nice songs by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger.

    Robin and Rainger were one hot songwriting team in Hollywood at that time. They were fresh off an Oscar in 1938 for Thanks for the Memory which became the beloved theme song of Crosby's Road picture partner Bob Hope. Not often remembered is that Hope introduced this song with Shirley Ross and also recorded it with her.

    Shirley Ross was at home equally on Broadway as well as Hollywood, she probably shuttled back and forth so she never got really established in either. A good singer with a pleasant voice, the woman was destined to be a footnote in Hollywood history. She also introduced Blue Moon in Manhattan Melodrama, albeit with a different lyric and entitled The Bad in Every Man. Larry Hart changed the lyric and the song became a smash, but not for Shirley Ross.

    Akim Tamiroff was a great addition to any film he was in. Here he plays Peter Karloca, mayor of Pushtalnik. Karloca spent some time in the United States, proudly studying our political methods in Chicago and adapting them to Pushtalnik. He and Ben Blue who plays the village idiot who turns the table on Tamiroff in the end, have some great scenes together and separately.

    Robin and Rainger's score consists of The Funny Old Hills, a cowboy ballad that is a personal favorite of mine, I Have Eyes which he sings as a duet via telephone with Ross, You're A Sweet Little Headache which Bing expresses his feeling for Gaal tongue in cheek and finally Joobalai which is one of the few huge production numbers in 30s Bing Crosby film. Nice, but boy what Busby Berkeley could have done here.

    Gaal was a continental cabaret entertainer who Cecil B. DeMille discovered and tried to make a star, just like his rival producer Sam Goldwyn tried with Anna Sten. Paris Honeymoon was one of only two other films she made before returning to Europe just in time for World War II.

    There's another number, sort of. One night Bing and butler Edward Everett Horton try to spook Gaal from the castle. Bing plays a disembodied head who is rolled down the dark hallway singing, I Ain't Got Nobody for a couple of lines. When Decca released the Bing's Hollywood record series, they included a great jazz recording that Crosby made with Woody Herman's band a couple of years after Paris Honeymoon was out.

    I can't forget Edward Everett Horton who's prissy stuffiness provided a great foil for many stars. At that time primarily known for his work with Fred Astaire, Horton and Bing work well together and it's a pity they didn't do more.

    A few months after Paris Honeymoon was released, Europe was at war and that mythical village of Pushtalnik would have been caught up in it. But we Americans like our escapist entertainment and Paris Honeymoon certainly fills that bill.
  • lugonian16 August 2003
    Paris HONEYMOON (Paramount, 1938), directed by Frank Tuttle, reunites Bing Crosby and Shirley Ross, who had recently starred in WAIKIKI WEDDING (1937), also directed by Tuttle. As much as the title of Paris HONEYMOON indicates a sequel to WAIKIKI WEDDING, it wasn't, but would have made a fine double feature. As with WAIKIKI WEDDING, Crosby is supported by fine character performers. Instead of Martha Raye and Bob Burns to complicate matters, Paris HONEYMOON provides Akim Tamiroff, Edward Everett Horton and Ben Blue for comic support. Unlike WAIKIKI WEDDING, Shirley Ross is mainly the secondary female lead while Franciska Gaal (1904-1972), Paramount's most recent foreign import who had made her Hollywood debut in Cecil B. DeMille's rousing adventure, THE BUCANNEER (1938), is the main attraction.

    The story starts off with "Lucky" Lawton (Bing Crosby), a Texas cowboy tycoon, assisted by his valet, Ernest Figg (Edward Everett Horton), in Europe, to attend his upcoming wedding to the wealthy Countess De Remi, formerly known as Barbara Wayne (Shirley Ross). But on the eve of their marriage, Barbara receives word that there is a delay in obtaining her divorce from her former husband (Gregory Gaye). The wedding is postponed for now until Barbara heads for Paris to speed up the process. In the meantime, Lucky decides to look over a castle in a small Balkan village in the mountains which he has bought for his honeymoon cottage. While there he encounters Manya (Franciska Gaal), a peasant girl known for telling tales to her friends, who has been selected as queen of the forthcoming rose festival. After their union, Lucky finds this "sweet little headache" hard to avoid and resist, and must decide whether to give her up in marriage to a buffoonish Peter Karlocka (Akim Tamiroff), the town mayor, or saddle up with Barbara once her divorce is finalized.

    This light-hearted comedy provides some fine but unmemorable tunes by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger: "Funny Old Hills" (sung by Bing Crosby); "Work While You May" (sung by villagers); "I Have Eyes to See With" (sung by Bing Crosby and Shirley Ross); "You're a Sweet Little Headache" (sung by Crosby to Franciska Gaal); "Joobalai" (sung by villagers, Crosby and Gaal); and "Funny Old Hills" (reprise by Crosby and Gaal). The simple and tender tune of "I Have Eyes to See With" is presented by Crosby and Ross at opposite ends of the telephone (a gimmick done once before by Crosby and Kitty Carlisle in SHE LOVES ME NOT (1934)), with Ross vocalizing her verse from her bathtub at a Paris hotel. But it's "Sweet Little Headache" that is provided as the theme song heard through the underscoring, especially when it involves the pert Franciska Gaal. Gaal does get to sing along with Crosby, and while she does have a pleasing voice, she wouldn't get a chance to appear in another musical again. After one more American film, THE GIRL DOWNSTAIRS (MGM, 1939), Gaal would return to her native Budapest, Hungary. During the rose festival sequence, prior to the lively "Joobalai" number, the villagers dance to an instrumental score of "The Tra-La-La and the Oomph Pa-Pa" which is not provided vocally in this production. However, this lyrics would be heard and sung by Martha Raye in the comedy, NEVER SAY DIE (Paramount, 1939).

    The supporting cast features Rafaela Ottiano as Fluschotska; Ben Blue as Sitska, the village idiot who later provides humorous results during a drunken scene during a festival; Victor Kilian as the Ancient Villager and Michael S. Visaroff as The Bishop. Ottiano provides herself with some funny lines, recited in her usual serious manner. When Edward Everett Horton accidentally gets hot water spilled on him, he quips to her, "Why don't you boil me in oil and be done with it!" Ottiano coldly replies, "It is not the custom."

    Although Paris HONEYMOON is far from being Crosby's best cinematic work, the predictable plot is helped along by the chemistry between Crosby and his supporting players. A bit long at 92 minutes, it gets by with its good tunes, comedic support and some good European picturesque settings which might have worked out better photographed in Technicolor. On the humorous side, in the castle sequence where Crosby wants to discourage Gaal, he decides to scare her off by haunting the place as he floats around the castle's dank chambers as a disembodied head singing "I ain't got nobody." Wolf howling adds to the eerie atmosphere. Unfortunately for him, the plan backfires, especially on Crosby. Another venture of comedy is provided during the festival where Peter Karloca (Tamiroff) becomes the victim of spiked-up liquor during his proposed wedding ceremony to Manya, who originally had intended to use the potion on the jealous Barbara Wayne to put her out of the way so she can be at the festival with Lucky. Essentially a dramatic actor riding high with more screen time following his Academy Award nominated performance in THE GENERAL DIED AT DAWN (Paramount, 1936), Akim Tamiroff, whose name is billed second after Crosby in the credits, followed by Gaal and Ross, handles himself quite well with his comedic performance. Absolutely.

    Rarely seen in recent years, Paris HONEYMOON was one of many Bing Crosby films of the 1930s to be seen on a regular basis on late night or midday commercial television during the 1960s and 1970s. And after a long hiatus, it would make a fine welcome back if it should ever resurface again, particularly on a classic movie cable channel. (**1/2)
  • When the film begins, rich American, Lucky Lawton (Bing Crosby) is about to marry Barbara when the unexpected occurs...they discover she is STILL married and she needs to return to Paris to get her divorce. The plan is for Lucky to soon follow and meet her there for the wedding. However, when he goes through a small town on his way to Paris, he discovers a comely local lady (Franciska Gaal) and falls for her as well! How do alcohol and attempted vehicular homicide have to do with sorting all this out??

    The film is fair and pretty predictable but could have still worked...mostly because Crosby was always such a great screen personality. But the alcohol gimmick and how it played out was really, really was the finale. Frankly, I expected more.
  • "Paris Honeymoon" is an above-average Bing Crosby musical. Bing plays a superstitious Texas gambler, engaged to marry a European countess (Shirley Ross). They're planning a Paris honeymoon ... but first Bing needs his good-luck charm: a horseshoe from a left hind hoof. While Bing's valet goes hoof-hunting, Bing takes a wrong turn in the Pyrenees and meets a pair of knees attached to Franciska Gaal.

    Hungarian actress Gaal was discovered by Paramount and given the movie-star build-up in three Hollywood films. ("Paris Honeymoon" is her best and last Paramount movie.) She's incredibly annoying in this film, as a peasant girl who latches onto Bing and tries to woo him away from Shirley Ross.

    The supporting cast are excellent. Edward Everett Horton gives his usual superb performance as Bing's hoof-hunting valet, a bit more "nelly" than usual. Akim Tamiroff is amusing as a crooked politician promoting a soft drink called "Karloca-Cola". Ben Blue plays a Harpo Marx-like European village idiot, remarkably similar to the role Harpo Marx played in "Two Many Kisses". Like Harpo in that film, Ben Blue here is almost entirely mute, but he spoils the effect when he speaks. "Paris Honeymoon" features a gag sequence with a slot machine that pays out jelly beans to everyone else, but which pays out cash jackpots to Ben Blue: this is very similar to Harpo's slot-machine routine a few years earlier in "Horse Feathers".

    The funniest scene in this film occurs when Bing disguises himself as a ghostly head without a body, hoping to scare away Franciska Gaal. (Of course, Bing sings "I Ain't Got No Body".) The songs and production numbers in this film are just a notch below first-rate. The only fly in the paprika is Franciska Gaal, who was strictly from Hungary and went back there after this movie.
  • Workhorse director Frank Tuttle is in charge of a Bing Crosby programmer in this decent but unexceptional movie. Bing's all set to marry Shirley Ross, but it turns out she's still married to a French Count, so they go to Paris to arrange the divorce. While waiting for the courts, Bing heads off to a small Balkan village run by Akim Tamiroff, where he falls in love with annoying Rose Queen Franciska Gaal. The usual hi-jinks ensue, and there's an amusing running gag involving Tamiroff, village idiot Ben Blue and a one-armed bandit. It's all predictable and rote, and even Edward Everett Horton doesn't do much to liven up matters, nor three decent but unexceptional songs.

    There's some decent Leroy Prinz choreography for the peasant dances; Evelyn Keyes has a bit role as a peasant, but as usual, I couldn't spot her.
  • Bing Crosby starred in some great films (i.e. 'Holiday Inn' and 'Going My Way') but also a few not so good ones (i.e. the 1956 version of 'Anything Goes'). 'Paris Honeymoon' is a minor, and pretty much forgotten, film, but it is a pleasant diversion and nothing more or less.

    The title is misleading at the very least. There is a little bit of Paris, but it is more Ruritania than Paris (probably done because it sounds catchier?) and there's no honeymoon. That however is a nit-pick and not really a flaw. There are things that stop it from being great, but there are a good many good things to make 'Paris Honeymoon' very much watchable.

    Franciska Gaal agreed is irritating and displays very little warmth or charm. The plot, while still warm-hearted and light-footed, is pretty paper thin nonsense, and although there is some enormously fun comic relief from Akim Tamiroff and especially Edward Everett Horton, the script is every bit as flimsy in places. The songs have been criticised for being forgettable, well they are not the most memorable in a Bing Crosby film or any musical for that matter but they are pleasantly tuneful.

    Crosby however carries 'Paris Honeymoon' with ease, it is a reasonably early film in his filmography and he is much more comfortable than in some of his earlier roles. As ever he also sings a dream. Shirley Ross is also charming, and Horton and Tamiroff are very funny, Rafaela Ottiano also. Ben Blue is amusing too, though one can't help think of Harpo Marx when seeing Blue, except not as good.

    It is a good looking film too, hardly a cheapo while also not being elaborate. There are two particularly great scenes, when Horton gets water spilt over him by Ottiano and particularly the scene in the castle.

    All in all, a pleasant if not exactly great film. 6/10 Bethany Cox
  • I like Crosby, but this is definitely not a memorable movie. It's a rather late case of American goes to Ruritania, the land of endless Viennese operettas. (In fact, the movie's title is misleading: only a short time is spent in Paris, and there is no honeymoon here. Most of the movie takes place in Ruritania.) There are the usual complications. Crosby's character meets a young peasant girl who is, as one of the other reviewers notes, very annoying. Why he would forsake Shirley Ross for her I don't understand.

    The music is forgettable, and that sinks any chance of remembering this otherwise unmemorable if pleasant effort.
  • GREAT SONGS AND MOVIE - I WISHED IT WAS ON DVD I WOULD BUY IT - THE SCENES WERE BEAUTIFUL AND THE COSTUMES! Directed by Frank Tuttle, Paris Honeymoon stars Bing Crosby as Lucky Lawton, a wealthy Texan whose plans for a Parisian honeymoon with the noblewoman he has been romancing are interrupted when he visits the city itself. Though he had intended only to make the proper arrangements, he falls in love with a beautiful-but-poor woman named Manya (Franciska Gaal). As he discovers that wealth does not define the worth of a human being, his former wedding plans are put indefinitely on the shelf. Songs include: "I Have Eyes", "Sweet Little Headache","Funny Old Hills", "Joobalai", "The Maiden by the Brook", "Work While You May" (Ralph Rainger, Leo Robin), and "I Ain't Got Nobody" (Roger Graham, Dave Peyton, Spencer Williams). Paris Honeymoon also features Akim Tamiroff, Shirley Ross, Edward Everett Horton, and Ben Blue. ~ Tracie Cooper, All Movie Guide