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  • According to a new book out on Billy Wilder, Wilder had a much different film in mind than what emerged here. He was a contract director for Paramount at the time this was made with a few hits under his belt. And he was assigned to direct this film with Bing Crosby who was the biggest name in movies when this came out.

    Crosby had a whole different film in mind and what Bing wanted Paramount gave him at that point. Wilder wanted a biting satire on the Franz Joseph court and he also wanted a the killing of the puppies, the offspring of Crosby's and Joan Fontaine's dogs to be an allegory for genocide. Crosby knew what his audiences expected from him and he opted for a lighter treatment.

    The result was a second rate Billy Wilder movie, but a first class Bing Crosby film. Unlike in the thirties when Paramount just depended on Crosby's personality to put over a film, they gave this one the full A treatment. The outdoor sequences were shot in the Canadian Rockies and they serve as a great Alpine background. Though its muted, Wilder still gets some of his cynical point of view into Crosby's phonograph salesman who woos a member of Viennese royalty played by Joan Fontaine. Roland Culver who is Fontaine's father is also pretty good as the impoverished count who is quite willing to sell his title in marriage to anyone who can afford him.

    Great vehicle for the winning Crosby personality.
  • "The Emperor Waltz" is an underrated jewel, a true hidden treasure by the great Billy Wilder. The basic idea of the movie is authentic comic genius, Wilder's trade-mark superb wit: two parallel funny love stories, a canine one, of a dog with a blitch, and a human one, of the straightforward American guy Virgil (Bing Crosby) with the haughty Austrian Countess Johanna Augusta Franziska (Joan Fontaine), the respective masters of the pets.

    Virgil is a commercial traveller: his stubborn attempts to sell gramophones to (no less a person than) the Emperor Franz-Josef are irresistibly comic. And then the Countess' blitch is the predestined partner of the Emperor's dog, and so she needs to be treated with extreme care (including sessions of psychoanalysis): all the hopes of the over-noble but impoverished family of the Holena von Shwartzemberg-Shwartzemberg lie in her paws... But it's all too funny to be described: see the movie and enjoy yourself.

    The funny, gently mocking reconstruction of the Austrian Court and of its rituals at the beginning of the 20th century is stunning. The delightful subtleties are uncountable: see the gentry play lawn-tennis, and the footmen in white gloves who present the tennis-balls on a silver tray...

    All the actors make an excellent job, and there are no words to praise enough Richard Haydn as Emperor Franz-Josef. The cinematography, in bright, cheerful colors, is accurate and evocative. The costumes and the locations are magnificent. The film was intended to be a musical: however, we find in it just a pair of nice songs and a rather short ballet. I consider it a further merit of the movie: I'm not much fond of musicals.

    I highly recommend "The Emperor Waltz", a praiseworthy issue of Wilder's magic wit and talent.
  • It would be hard to find two consecutive feature films by a director of significance as different from one another as "The Lost Weekend" and "The Emperor Waltz", the former as hysterically hard hitting as anything Hollywood produced in the 'forties, the latter pure schmaltzy escapism. The first and most obvious conclusion is that Billy Wilder, as part of his contract to Paramount, was doing as he was told in producing a piece of box office confectionery. And yet there is no escaping the credits which bill the script as being by Wilder himself and Charles Brackett. So he must have known what he was doing. Superficially it looks and sounds like a nostalgic recreation of Wilder's home country, Austria, during a golden period before the First World War when the only thing to unsettle the court of the Emperor Franz Joseph was the entry of an itinerant American phonograph salesman and his mongrel dog. It is said that it might have been a different film but for the fact that Wilder had to accept Bing Crosby for the leading role and that he had to cater for the audience expectations of one of the most popular stars of the day, hence the odd song, though scarcely enough to make it a musical in the fully accepted sense. There is the odd witty line such as Franz Joseph's remark that were he to shave off his whiskers it would create consternation in changing his image on the country's currency. Apart from this it is hard to find much in the way of Wilder's characteristically cracking dialogue. The parallel romance between Bing and a countess and their dogs Buttons and Sheherazade rather palls after a while but the pretty visuals with the Canadian Rockies substituting for the Austrian Tyrol have some compensations. Bing plays his part with star flair although the same can hardly be said of Joan Fontaine as the countess. Aside from the virtue of a gorgeous hair-do, she acts with a stilted woodenness that is light years away from her work in "Rebecca" and "Jane Eyre". Still there is generally something engaging to catch the eye including one wonderfully kitschy moment when all the lasses from a village where violins are made play their instruments. When Wilder made "The Emperor Waltz" he already had to his credit that immortal film noir "Double Indemnity". 1947/48 must have been a particularly bad period for him as he followed his Austrian romance with easily his worst effort, "A Foreign Affair", a third-rate "Ninotchka" tale set in postwar Berlin with Jean Arthur, an otherwise good actress, hardly a match for Garbo. For all its faults "The Emperor Waltz" is infinitely more enjoyable though there is little indication of the talent that was to produce "Some Like It Hot", "The Apartment" and "Kiss Me, Stupid".
  • Billy Wilder had never forgotten his native country and Bing Crosby could have been the director himself using a time machine to visit Frances -Josef.

    An old old emperor soon to plunge his country into WW1.An old emperor who had lost his wife (the famous Sissi)and his only son (it's no coincidence if in "Sunset Blvd" Von Stroheim -who claimed to be the son of one of the empress's lady in waiting- was called MAX -name of the emperor's brother,killed by the Mexicans - VON MAYERLING -the place where the Kronprinz died.)

    But "Waltz" is the only work by the great director which takes place in Austria;a chocolate box Austria ,not very different from that depicted by Ernest Marischka' s "Sissi saga" (aka "forever my love" )complete with yodeling and Tirolians in their folk costumes .

    In several respects ,it is a "political movie" :American is the land of democracy where there are supposedly no more classes ,and where a prince can marry a shepherd girl;it's the land of progress which provides the archaic Austria with gramophones .(One should notice that the emperor was already using a phonograph before 1898,for her wife bought "rollers" for him on the eve of her death);it's the land where you can call an emperor "the old boy" ;when his work became subtler,Wilder 's bite did not spare the Americans (see" one two three" or "Avanti") "Waltz" is twice a love story:love between an American who makes 25 dollars a week and a chic countess;between two dogs ,a mongrel and a lady dog with a pedigree (some kind of "Lady and the tramp" so to speak) Frances -Josef may seem reluctant but at the time he had already seen worse;his nephew ,Francis Ferdinand ,the new Kronprinz ,had married an obscure countess Sophie Chotek,and one of his sisters-in-law was an actress !
  • The mystery is that it took me so long to succumb to the charms of this musical. There are few writer/directors I admire more than Billy Wilder and few entertainers I enjoy more than Bing Crosby. I don't know what I expected when they got together, but I guess it wasn't "The Emperor Waltz". Initial disappointment was erased on a recent viewing.

    Our story is set in the long ago Austria of Emperor Franz Josef and concerns the love affair between a haughty widowed countess (Joan Fontaine) and a brash American salesman (Crosby). Ditto her purebred poodle and his mutt. There is a lot of talk about class differences and bloodlines and, through the years, this has been my major gripe with the script. Perhaps at the time in the late 40s Bracket and Wilder felt the need to make some sort of a statement, but it's a tad heavy handed and detracts from the fun - and there is fun.

    The musical numbers are presented wittily. For "In Dreams I Kiss Your Hand" Bing sings, then brings in a piano, then two policemen pick up violins and then the domestic staff starts to dance. When our countess swoons after a few boo-boo-boo's, you know it's all in fun. The uninspired humorist often remarks when watching a musical "where did the orchestra come from?". In the enchanting "The Kiss in Your Eyes", there is no need to ask as an entire village puts bow to string to accompany this most stirring of love songs.

    The Technicolor filming is sumptuous and truly befitting the operetta-like sensibility of the movie.

    Joan Fontaine is every inch the royal lady, looking lovely in her costumes and easily handling the comic and dramatic portions of the script. A nice transition from her young, vulnerable characterizations to the more confident females she portrayed in the 50s.

    Early in the film Bing Crosby tends to shout his way through Virgil, but his character is a lone fish out of water with no kibitzing pal such as a Hope or Fitzgerald. Once he starts to sing - well, like the Countess, it is easy to fall for the go-getting salesman.

    Lucile Watson is a delight as a dowager princess with a penchant for storytelling and for our Countess' profligate father played in fine style by Roland Culver.

    The top performance comes from Richard Hadyn as Emperor F-J himself. Unrecognizable under the whiskers and make-up, and foregoing his famous nasally precise delivery, Mr. Hadyn gives us a very interesting Franz-Josef. A petulant, funny, irritating, thoughtful and memorable character. You will pinch yourself to remind you of who you are watching.

    I heartily recommend this musical of much charm. Mystery solved.
  • This is a film you needn't strain your thinking on but it's a charming confection all the same. If you like Bing's easygoing style then there's lots to enjoy here. I was captivated by the superb photography of the mountains and local scenery, and being musical myself, very much appreciated the violin selections that were played. All the scenes are replete with gorgeous settings and costumes and Ms Fontaine is as exquisite as ever. I was intrigued by those 'horseless carriages' -- the vintage cars from the turn of the century. Personally I don't care to look for faults but just come to sit and appreciate the movie for what it has to offer, which is light entertainment with a happy ending -- a time of simple enjoyment.
  • ryancm7 January 2008
    What a nice delightful film this turned out to be. I'm in my musical phase of movies, and while this really cannot be classified as a true "musical", it does have a couple on nice songs and a short dance sequence. I guess you could classify this as a "quasi-musical". Anyway, the story is fun with the typical Billy Wilder political overtones that do not detract from the plot line. The scenery is great, as is Bing Crosby and Richard Haydin. Joan Fontaine is fine in what is asked of her. The real stars are the two dogs. Their scenes are delightful, as is the film. While there is a tad of dramatics at the end, it all turns out fine as expected. Would have like to have the fade-out of the two dogs cuddling up. See this one for a royal treat.
  • In Austria, the American traveling salesman Virgil Smith (Bing Crosby) arrives in the palace of Emperor Franz-Joseph I (Richard Haydn) with his mongrel dog Button expecting to sell one gramophone to him to promote his sales in the country. However, the guards believe he has a time-bomb and he does not succeed in his intent. When the dog Sheherazade of the widowed Countess Johanna Franziska von Stolzenberg-Stolzenberg (Joan Fontaine) bites Button, Virgil visits her and sooner he falls in love for Johanna and Button for Sheherazade that is promised to breed with the Emperor's dog. When Virgil asks permission to marry Johanna to the Emperor, the nobleman exposes to the salesman that their difference of social classes would doom their marriage and offers a business to Virgil.

    "The Emperor Waltz" is a delightful and naive romance of Billy Wilder, with parallel human and canine love stories like the dogs were the alter-egos of their owners. The art direction and the set decoration are amazing, and the scene of the ball is awesome. Joan Fontaine is extremely beautiful and shows a great chemistry with Bing Crosby, but the dog Button steals the movie and is responsible for the funniest moments. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): "A Valsa do Imperador" ("The Emperor Waltz")
  • After having read all the negative reviews and the complaints about Crosby wrecking Wilder's original intention with the film, I was quite amazed to discover that I liked this film a lot. Crosby's interference isn't noticeable, by which I mean that the film has a quite evenhanded tone. And near the end, Crosby is absolutely horrid to Joan Fontaine (cruel to be kind, but he still takes it to extremes) in a cynical way which just smacks of Wilder's black-heartedness. Crosby's character in this film is also somewhat different from his usual persona: not laid-back, but a pushy, brash, fast-talking salesman (Hope or Cagney might have suited the story even better). Joan Fontain is very icy and remote at first (making her unattractive), but she melts very convincingly once the love affair starts. The film is also a sort of a parody of the musical: Crosby's yodelling song is full of yodel jokes, and during THE number of the film (I kiss your hand in dreams madame), a chamber-maid, Fontaine's goofy chauffeur and the middle-aged pudgy 'receptionist' of the inn at which Mr. C is staying launch into a wonderfully silly (deliberately so) ballet routine clearly intended as a stab at the conventions of the genre. The last part of the film becomes less amusing, and the puppy finale drags a bit, though the final confrontation with Franz Joseph (a great Richard Haydn) makes up for the lull. Finally, Fontaine has one of the greatest lines in movie history when she finally surrenders to Crosby: 'My husband was dashing and suave. He was 6'2". He was the most handsome man in all of Austria. You're so different!!' And kiss. Sheer brilliance.
  • It's nice to see others who are also quite fond of The Emperor Waltz. The film mayn't be a personal favourite or a masterpiece, and there has been better from all involved- for example it is one of Billy Wilder's weakest films that I've seen but that is not knocking it at all, just that his best films are some of the best ever made- but The Emperor Waltz is still a lovely and very enjoyable film. Yes the story is incredibly silly and at its worst disposable and Bing Crosby has moments where he does overact. The Emperor Waltz does look absolutely gorgeous, the clothes and scenery coupled with the colourful cinematography really do make for a visual feast. The music is both lush and characterful, and there are songs also that are really catchy and pleasant to listen to. The choreography in the ballet sequence is wonderfully nimble as well as deliciously witty, it also doesn't go on for too long or bog the film down. The script at its best is uproariously funny with Wilder's style definitely coming through, helped by the great comic delivery, and there is also room for some genuinely sweet moments without falling into schmaltz as well as some biting but often gentle cynicism with the portrayal of the Austrian court while keeping in good taste still. Wilder directs with a sure hand, if not at his best and in the performances there is little to complain about. Particularly good are the dog Buttons, who bags some of the film's funniest moments as well as its sweetest, and an unrecognisable Richard Haydn, sometimes his character is irritating but Haydn is also hilarious and thoughtful too. Joan Fontaine is subtle and touching, the rest of the supporting cast turn in good work and while Crosby does go overboard at times he takes a light-hearted and suave approach in others which is most endearing and he characteristically sings magnificently. Overall, lovely stuff with a lot to like. 8/10 Bethany Cox
  • "The Emperor Waltz" is a surprisingly lightweight film considering it was directed by Billy Wilder. This is the same director who'd just won Oscars for "The Lost Weekend" and "Double Indemnity". And, while he also made some great comedies (such as "Some Like it Hot"), "The Emperor Waltz" is surprisingly lightweight--particularly since Wilder's Oscars came just a few years before this film. You'd have thought he would have merited a more prestigious project.

    Bing Crosby stars as Virgil Smith--a traveling salesman who is trying to make a sale to Emperor Franz Josef of the Austria-Hungarian Empire!!! This is utterly ridiculous and you just have to turn off your brain to enjoy much of the film--such as the notion of his falling in love with a Countess, the Emperor and Virgil having an informal conversation as well as a dog that is receiving psychotherapy! Yes, it's all very silly and Joan Fontaine and Bing Crosby do make a hilariously mismatched couple. Yet, despite the film's many shortcomings, it IS entertaining. A bit brainless...but entertaining. Certainly no even close to either actor's best but kind of cute.

    By the way, buried under all that makeup and facial prosthetics is Richard Hayden--believe it or not!
  • This is not a great Billy Wilder film, but any film he's involved in is worth looking at. Like Orson Welles, even when he's below par in his work he's ahead of the pack. Here Wilder is going back to his roots - he came from Austria, and just left it before the Nazi seized control (I think two aunts of his died in concentration camps). Wilder knew what the highbound, tradition controlled court and government of Austria Hungary was like, with it's unofficial racism towards Jews and Slavs. Only Hungarians (by force) got equal treatment to the Austrians in the government and army. If Jews did well in the professions or business they were hated for it. Only Erich von Stroheim would have had a similar idea of the truth, but he looked elsewhere at the sordidness of the court - at it's sexual peccadillos.

    But the film is not successful in capturing that image. It comes closest when Richard Haydn (as the old Emperor Franz Joseph - possibly his best straight acting job/though his performance as a sadistic nobleman in FOREVER AMBER is close to it)tells Bing Crosby why the marriage between him and Joan Fontaine would fail. Fontaine would soon be pining for those fine aristocratic experiences and events that she would never be able to go back to once she married a commoner. Haydn compares aristocrats to snails - serene and haughty in their little shells, but remove them from their shells and they die. It may be wrong here (the movie ends with Crosby and Fontaine united), but in reality it hasn't always worked. Look at the tradition bound Windsor family and their marriage fiascos.

    Oddly enough, just as Wilder failed in his attempt to make a film about the Austro-Hungarian Empire Max Ophuls made the classic Viennese romance of that period - A LETTER FROM AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, starring Fontaine and Louis Jordan. It was not on the scale of THE EMPEROR WALTZ, but it is better remembered and enjoyed, and gave Fontaine a memorably tragic character. If one wants to get a glimmer of the zeitgeist of old Wien see the Ophuls movie. And if not that see a British film starring Lili Palmer, BEWARE OF PITY, which also captures the neurosis of the upper classes in that age. As for THE EMPEROR WALTZ, watch it for Haydn's fine performance, Crosby's singing and comic moments (when he turns a phonograph into a 19th Century berry juicer, which is a lovely little scene), and Roland Culver's social plotting. You'll find these all quite enough to enjoy the movie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    ... is, of course, streets ahead of four-quarter Godard but this does disappoint more than it pleases. If she's not careful Joan Fontaine is likely to wind up on the wrong end of a Trivial Pursuit question: Which non-singing, non-dancing actress still managed to co-star with a leading singer and THE dancer of the twentieth century. There's absolutely no chemistry whatsoever between Fontaine and Crosby which is understandable considering Crosby was in love with himself. Although they were at the same studio, Paramount, Crosby was serenely unaware that Wilder was in the middle of a hitting streak and had just turned out four smashes - The Major And The Minor, Five Graves To Cairo, Double Indemnity and The Lost Weekend - in a row and collected Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Picture Oscars for the last one, because he showed up with his own team of writers headed by Barney Dean (yeah, you heard; Barney Dean to re-write Billy Wilder)and would hand new pages to Wilder each day saying 'here's what we'll be shooting today' or 'I'll be playing golf, let me know'. Alas, what he lacked in manners/respect Crosby made up for in clout, his pictures were just as big hits as Wilder's and he'd had more of them. Apart from this what started out as a valentine to fin-de-siecle Vienna metamorphosed into a tribute to Yankee know-how/get-up-and-go with Crosby's David taking on the Viennese Goliath in the shape of Emeror Franz-Joseph (Richard Haydn). No Wilder film could ever be all bad and his barbed reference to genocide remains with Crosby saving a mongrel litter from Sig Ruman's 'doctor' and confronting Franz-Joseph with a speech about the mongrels not being 'pure' enough to be allowed to live. Franz-Joseph is played as something just this side of a buffoon and there's absolutely no mention of the assassination of his wife, Sissi (a memorable role for Romy Schneider) or the double suicide of his son and the son's mistress at Mayerling. The prime interest will be to Wilder completists and/or what-might-have-beeners.
  • This little satire is one of Bing Crosby's less appreciated efforts, but watching him stroll through the countryside yodeling is worth the whole film. In the wake of World War II, genius director Billy Wilder wisely chose to mock the Austrian Court and its rituals at the beginning of the 20th century. The Americanized ridicule of the Hapsburg Empire is typical Crosby fare as the great crooner ba-ba-be-ba-boos in Joan Fontaine's face and she later mimics him. The scene of villagers fiddling is charming, and there is a very cute dance trio on the "I Kiss Your Hand, Madame" number. There is not enough music in the film to make it a good musical, but it is about a gramophone salesman! The movie does eventually go to the dogs, but you have to see it to understand what that means. Favorite line: "I think you're full of pickled pumpernickel, the both of you!"
  • There's a knowing self-awareness to this movie's song and dance numbers that turn them from sappy little ditties into more than amusing set pieces. Combined with the bright and colorful visual palatte and a pair of winning performances from Bing Crosby and Joan Fontaine, the numbers create a rather enjoyable musical from Billy Wilder.

    Bing Crosby plays Virgil Smith, a traveling salesman trying to break into Vienna by convincing the Emperor Franz-Josef to buy the first phonograph in the country. His dog gets into an altercation with the dog of a countess, Joan Fontaine's Johanna. It's a meet cute where the humans and the dogs both seem to loathe each other. But, being a song and dance musical with one of the world's biggest movie stars and an attractive female lead, it's going to follow a predictable path. They're going to hate each other, get close to each other, fall for each other, get ripped apart, and ultimately come back together again.

    The movie uses that predictability to its advantage, filling the film with other touches that provide fun. The biggest running element like this is the romance between the two leads' dogs. The countess has a black French poodle while the salesman has a white fox terrier. It plays as both a proxy and a catalyst for the romance of the two leads. The musical numbers, especially "The Kiss in Your Eyes" where the two leads fall in love, have a winking quality that also brings delight. There's dancing, but not by the leads. Instead, the camera goes outside the hotel room where they are singing and we watch a few inconsequential characters break into dance in the hotel's large lobby area. There seems to be an admission that musical numbers are general inconsequential in general, and the movie's going to embrace it fully.

    The actual plotting of the movie, as I said earlier, is predictable stuff. Virgil gets his meeting with the Emperor, who talks him into leaving the countess in exchange for a large order of phonographs. Virgil takes the deal in order to try and save the countess from a life of relative poverty that he knows she'll never acclimate to. The two dogs have a trio of puppies, born at the climax of the film, and to the horror of the countess's father. It's the saving of these puppies, and Virgil revealing them to the Emperor, that saves both the puppies and the relationship between the two star crossed lovers.

    The movie's not challenging at all, and it kind of sticks out like a sore thumb in terms of its overall cheeriness in Wilder's filmography. However, it's still a light and delightful time at the movies.
  • Many comments here on IMDB lament the fact that there's not much of Billy Wilder's trademark cynicism in this film but, c'mon---it's a BING CROSBY MUSICAL, for Pete's sake--NOT "Sunset Boulevard", which Wilder and writer Brackett would produce a few years later.

    However, the final half-hour of the film does turn rather dramatic and even dark....during which Wilder does indeed seem to be commenting -- through Bing Crosby's character----on the haughty, outmoded, class-driven traditions of the Austrian aristocracy (Wilder's homeland) and, by extension, the recently defeated Third Reich. So, ENOUGH of the social commentary stuff!

    "The Emperor Waltz" is one of the most GORGEOUS, sumptuous-looking films I've even seen; the amount of period detail and richly-textured color and depth is astounding, especially for a film that is tossed off as "just another" whimsical outing for Mr. Crosby.

    True, the script's focus on the antics of the two lead canines is a bit tiresome (and I certainly didn't appreciate the 2 brief fight scenes between them, which were vicious). But the parallel development of doggy and human romancing was enjoyable, as were the charming (and "kitschy") musical scenes: the mountaineer's yodeling dance, the servants' impromptu ballet in the Inn lobby, and the symphonic string orchestra of the townspeople (clearly these were real orchestral musicians dressed in period costume, since they all played their instruments with great skill--MUCH better than actors faking the movements!)

    Bing's character is brash and at times obnoxious, and the resulting animosity and resentment between him and Roland Culver's excellent Count/father is deftly conveyed. BTW-- the count's final line to Lucille Fletcher at the end of the film was a true laugh-out-loud moment for me-- just one of many highlights of the Brackett/Wilder screenplay.

    The superb acting of Richard Haydn is also marvelously displayed--as always, a master of understatement. Too bad he was so often cast in those silly, adenoidal professor roles; he was capable of SO MUCH more (check him out in 1947's "Forever Amber"; he's really terrifying). The scene in which the aging, world-weary Emperor meets with Bing to discuss marriage and phonographs marks a major turning-point in the film. The Emperor's unexpected calm, insight and wisdom are remarkable-- and the dialogue is superbly written (too bad that the extensive age make-up on Haydn seems to be failing during this scene-- the front edge of the bald-cap looks wrinkled, resulting in a few deep furrows and ridges. Still, his performance dominates).

    And the big ballroom scene near the end, with the Emperor's grand entrance to the strains of the Austrian National Anthem (which we know would be cynically co-opted by the Nazi regime in the '30's and re-titled "Deutschland Uber Alles"), and Bing's dramatic entrance carrying the trio of wee newborns, is grandly cinematic, exciting stuff. Again, Richard Haydn's Emperor remains calm and dignified...but now with just of touch of the warmth and humanity we had hoped for, which comes as a welcome relief.

    "The Emperor Waltz" turns out to be a MUCH more substantial film than I had expected during the first two-thirds of its running time. And it is so amazingly LOVELY to look at, to boot.

    LR
  • sobot10 March 2019
    Warning: Spoilers
    This is a very silly movie. On the other hand, it does not try for a moment to appear serious, so it may be forgiven for that; it even has a certain charm provided by Wilder, one of the greatest directors of his age. However, this is not just a shallow and funny story. It is also a propaganda piece for America and its free-minded liberty. You see Europeans chained by traditions and customs, and an American so beautifully free that he yells at the mighty emperor, calls him names, holds his hands in his pockets while talking to him and whatnot. He explains all the stupid Europeans that love is above all and that all their lifestyles are pure nonsense. He even saves poor puppies from the evil count. Now, I don't hate Americans. I am all for liberty and against class division. However, advertising it so bluntly and putting yourself above all others is something I detest. And I am not prepared to swallow such messages if they are packed in sweet packages like this one. So there.
  • HotToastyRag16 November 2018
    Even though I'm a cat person, I was completely sucked in by the charm of the canine love story in The Emperor Waltz. Bing Crosby tries to woo Joan Fontaine, but since she's a countess and he's a traveling salesman, she rebuffs him. Their dogs, however, hit it off, so they're forced to spend time together! Isn't that cute?

    In this slightly silly movie, Bing auditions for his role the following year in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. He plays a salesman peddling a modern invention that the old-fashioned European royalty isn't ready for-sound similar to Hank Morgan? The screenplay pits a culture clash together, but since Bing is so charming and glib, it's no wonder Joan starts to warm towards someone below her station. This is a perfectly typical Bing Crosby movie, so if you've never seen him in something and you don't like Bob Hope, rent this one over the weekend. It's cute, but silly, but Bing makes everything better, doesn't he?
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SYNOPSIS: American salesman attempts to introduce phonographs into Austria.

    NOTES: Locations in Jasper National Park in the Canadian Rockies. The film was shot from June through September 1946. Nominated for prestigious Hollywood awards for Scoring of a Musical Picture (Victor Young) (lost to Easter Parade), and Color Costume Design (lost to Joan of Arc). Domestic rental gross exceeded $4 million, which made it Paramount's number two (after The Road to Rio) boxoffice attraction of 1947-48. (Or if you want to take the calendar year 1948, the movie still came in second, but this time after The Paleface). Second to Road to Rio as Paramount's top-grossing Australian release of 1948. Bing Crosby, Best Actor of 1948 - Photoplay Gold Medal Award.

    COMMENT: Although some critics might regard this as a minor Billy Wilder exercise, it is in fact every bit as entertaining - perhaps more so - than such highly regarded Wilder comedies as A Foreign Affair and Some Like It Hot. Moreover it is sumptuously set and photographed, ingratiatingly acted, with Bing in fine voice, and Strauss music to boot. Crosby and Fontaine make particularly engaging principals and are well served by an outstanding support cast led by Richard Haydn, superbly raspy (and excellently made up) as Franz Joseph, and Roland Culver as an opportunistic if blue-blooded wastrel. Nice to see Sig Rumann and Lucile Watson (though we have never been able to spot Doris Dowling). Bert Prival is outstanding in an unexpectedly funny bit as the chauffeur who forsakes his staidness to slide down the banisters. Wilder's puckishly bizarre sense of humor is always in evidence, leading up to a frighteningly suspenseful climax in which the His Master's Voice pups are rescued from the evil Culver and Rumann. In all, doubtless due to Brackett's influence and contribution, Wilder has balanced the movie particularly well between farce and fantasy, romance and risibility, comic cut-ups and more realistic characterization, songs and suspense. The traditions of musical comedy are integrated with those of the comedy of manners. Both are not only exploited to the full, but gently lampooned.
  • THE EMPEROR WALTZ (Paramount, 1948), directed by Billy Wilder, stars the unlikely pair of Academy Award winners, Bing Crosby (Best Actor of GOING MY WAY (1944) and Joan Fontaine (Best Actress of SUSPICION (1941) for the only time. With the title lifted from the famous Johann Strauss composition, the script, as written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett, has its very own direction with a story about an unlikely pairing of a traveling salesman and an aristocratic countess, a sort of theme commonly found in the Depression era 1930s made famous by director, Ernst Lubitsch with such titles as THE LOVE PARADE (1929) starring Maurice Chevalier and Jeanette MacDonald as a commoner who marries a queen . Even with such an old-fashioned tale carried on into post World War II, THE EMPEROR WALTZ no doubt worked wonders with audiences in 1948, but has become somewhat underrated today.

    Opening title: "On a December night some forty-odd years ago, His Majesty, Francis Joseph, the first emperor of Austria, apostolic King of Hungary, King of Bohemia, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galicia and so forth and so forth, was giving a little clambake at his palace in Vienna." Enter Virgil Smith (Bing Crosby), a traveling American salesman, walking through the snow, climbing the vine to the second floor terrace and into the palace of a social ball given by the Emperor Franz Joseph (Richard Haydn). Attracting attention to himself, he heads over towards the Countess Johanna Franziska Von Stultzenberg Stultzenberg (Joan Fontaine) on the dance floor demanding to speak with her. She angrily replies: "Go away. I hate you … I loathe you … I despise you!" At a distance, this union is observed by the middle- aged Princess Bitotska (Lucile Watson), who soon narrates the story to the guests seated around her. The flashback scenario tells of how the two met and what soon occurred to develop into a four month courtship: Virgil, a super salesman from Newark, New Jersey, comes to the Emperor's palace with his dog, Buttons, and a black box consisting of a phonograph recording machine to show the Emperor to introduce to the lives of the people of his country. Also awaiting to see the Emperor are Countess Johanna and her father, Baron Holenia (Roland Culver), a general, the matching of their black poodle with his very own dog in order to produce puppies for the lonely Emperor. After a rough start where Virgil's black box is mistaken for a time bomb, Buttons starts a battle with Johanna's dog. At first the snobbish Johanna of Stultzenberg Stultzenberg Palace on Stultzenberg Stultzenberg Square, wants nothing to do with Virgil nor his animal, but after a visit to Doctor Zwiegback (Sig Rumann), a dog psychiatrist, suggesting that both dogs should get together, not only does love eventually blossoms for both dogs, but for the salesman and the countess as well, until something occurs to cause Johanna to hate Virgil. As the princess finishes her story, more unexpected events occur. Other members of the cast consist of Julia Dean (Archduchess Stephanie); Harold Vermilyea (Chamberlain); and Doris Dowling (The Tyrolean Girl).

    Filmed in glorious Technicolor, much of the premise is a reminder of those Ernst Lubitch musicals for Paramount which would make one feel that had THE EMPEROR WALTZ been produced around 1932, naturally the envisioned casting might have been altered to Maurice Chevalier (the salesman), Jeanette MacDonald (the countess) and C. Aubrey Smith(The Emperor). Yet something like Rouben Mamoulian's LOVE ME TONIGHT (1932) that featured the trio in that very same musical may have some connection involving a tailor and a princess with an assortment of very fine songs. For THE EMPEROR WALTZ, with Crosby doing a Chevalier trademark by wearing a straw hat, there's limitations to song interludes, something quite unusual for a Bing Crosby movie. Songs include: "Friendly Mountains" (by Johnny Burke); "I Kiss Your Hand, Madame" (sung by Crosby, and danced by chauffeur (Bert Prival) and two barmaids); "I Kiss You Hand, Madame" (reprise); "The Kiss in Your Eyes" and finally Johann Strauss' "The Emperor Waltz" sung by Crosby with new lyrics by Johnny Burke. As beautiful as any Strauss melody can be, the major disappointment is not having "The Emperor Waltz" presented as a major dance sequence participated by cast members in song and dance rather than in brief as presented in the final print.

    With Joan Fontaine donning period costumes and headdress from early twentieth century, though in her early thirties, appears ten years older, with the exception of one scene where she discovers she's in love through the glitter of her eyes where she appears to look quite youthful. Character actor, Richard Haydn, unrecognizable under white mustache, beard and heavy eye lashes, is satisfactory as the emperor. At 106 minutes, an enjoyable lavish production.

    Formerly shown on commercial television before shifting to cable such as American Movie Classics (1995-1999), and Turner Classic Movies (TCM premiere: March 1, 2011); THE EMPEROR WALTZ has become available on both home video and later DVD (with Crosby's A CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT (1949) on the flip side for anyone's viewing pleasure of a movie set in merry old Vienna. (***)
  • AAdaSC30 July 2009
    2/10
    Dire
    The Emperor's (Richard Haydn) dog is betrothed to Johanna's (Joan Fontaine) dog. However, when Virgil (Bing Crosby) arrives in town to sell a gramaphone record player to the Emperor, his dog is attacked by Johanna's dog. After a revenge attack where Virgil is banished from town, a psychoanalyst insists that Johanna's dog must confront Virgil's dog so that she can overcome her doggy fears. This is arranged and the dogs fall in love. So do Virgil and Johanna. The rest of the film passes by with romance and at the end, Johanna's dog gives birth. But who is the father.......?

    The dog story is the very weak vehicle that is used to try and create a story between humans. Its a terrible storyline. There are 3 main musical pieces all of which are rubbish - bad songs and dreadful choreography. Its just an extremely boring film - Bing has too many words in each sentence and delivers them in an almost shouty, irritating manner. Its not funny............ EVER..........but its meant to be. Bing and Joan have done much better than this.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    THE EMPEROR WALTZ can be best viewed today as director Billy Wilder's attempt to explain why such a schnitzel-loving country as Austria could be drafted onto the losing side of not one but TWO world wars against the Allies last century.

    This story begins with an American salesman (Bing Crosby) going over to a backward European country which has barely heard of electricity and light bulbs, even though they'd been around more than three decades at the time this docudrama takes place. (Everyone knows that even Pitcairn's Island will get its first shipment of iPad 2's before they've been out a week.) To add insult to injury, when the salesman is savvy enough of local mores to offer his prototype iPod to the local honcho, this emperor's backward thugs throw the entertainment device into a goldfish pond, proclaiming it a weapon of mass destruction. This is clearly Wilder's allegorical riff on the tragic events kicking off WWI.

    The rest of the movie is about dog breeding, an obvious allusion to the Aryan eugenics mania practiced by Hitler and his Austrian cronies up to and during WWII. Is the Austrian working class (well represented in this movie by chauffeurs, maids, teamsters, hunting guides, cops, etc.) protesting in the streets over all these evil shenanigans? Heck no! Wilder shows us. They just gallivant about without a care in the world, dancing and yodeling for no reason, oblivious to the grim fate in store for them. Clearly, THE EMPEROR WALTZ was the major influence inspiring Mel Brooks to write "Springtime for Hitler" into his blockbuster, THE PRODUCERS.
  • I find it amazing, that Wilder - 12 years after the Broadway success of Erik Charell's WHITE HORSE INN, and 18 years after the Berlin premiere of the show by the same creative team (a version Wilder certainly saw, since it was the talk of the town he lived in at the time) - re-uses many of the elements that made that revue-operetta such a smash hit: those pop art Tirolean costumes and villages, the lake, the jodels, the dancers in Lederhosen and Dirndl... some of the village scenes and costumes actually look, as if Wilder was using the original operetta-designs by Ernst Stern. He even quotes original operetta music (by Lehár, instead of Ralph Benatzky, just to mislead the viewer - and maybe avoid copyright problems.) Also, the basic idea of the Charell/Hans Müller operetta is re-used here: a man from a different culture ends up in the Alps and has to cope with a totally different 'Austrian' way of life. In the original it's the Berlin industrialist Giesecke, in the movie it's Bing Crosby as the American salesman. In both cases, the clash of cultures is delightful to watch and makes for some hilariously comic scenes. Perhaps, in the movie, Crosby is not the ideal 'ironic' actor needed for a story of this kind... (he plays the story rather 'straight'). Still, Wilder makes sure the viewer understands that it is all a gigantic joke. (Actually, he even shows the Austrian Kaiser as a silly old fool, exactly like in the operetta.) It would be interesting to analyze show and film. Even though theater historians prefer to ignore films, and film historians prefer to ignore theater productions. But, as Richard Norton pointed out in his essay on the career of WHITE HORSE INN in the English speaking world, Warner Brothers bought the rights for a film version of the operetta and thought of casting Al Jolson, Maurice Chevalier, Eddie Cantor or Jack Okie in the movie. Just imagine what a movie it would/could have been with Bing Crosby as the suave lead, and with Billy Wilder directing. Perhaps WHITE HORSE INN never made it to Hollywood, but this film is the closest the operetta ever got to being turned into a big, splashy, wonderful, colorful and very, very funny film. Definitely worth watching - and copying, for anyone who wants to put on WHITE HORSE INN on stage. Wilder know how to make these kind of stories sparkle and shine. Visually and musically.