The Merry Widow

1934, USA, Language: English and French (99’); Screening: 09.09, 11.30, Toldi Cinema, Kisterem

There are several important film versions of The Merry Widow: the Stroheim version reveals – by analysing in detail the love between Danilo, scion of the royal family, and Sonia, the commoner – that the fairy tale-like operetta country is not free of corruption, there too the secular order and unchallengeable hierarchy dominate. On the other hand, the version by Lubitsch, billed as a super-production, is far more interested in presenting the remarkableness, the exoticism of this country. His movie boasting serious star power (the lead role is played by Maurice Chevalier, and was filmed in parallel takes in English and in French) is a somewhat glamorous, Art Nouveau bonbon, although it does not lack Lubitsch’s refined, nuanced humour. Hungarian dramatist Ernő Vajda rewrote the Lehár work for the director.

Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch
Screenplay by: Ernest Vajda (Vajda Ernő), Samson Raphaelson
Director of photography: Oliver T. Marsh
Music by: Ferenc Lehár
Cast: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald, Edward Everett Horton, Marcel Vallée, Una Merkel, Danièle Parola
Genre: comedy, musical
Production: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Format: black and white, 1.37:1