Monday, July 12, 2010

Jeanette MacDonald: Movies of the 30s.

Jeanette MacDonald, was an singer and actress best remembered for her musical films of the 1930s: Let's Go Native (1930), is a musical comedy film, directed by Leo McCarey. Best known for its, witty quote: "It was one of the Virgin Islands, but it drifted." Another musical, Monte Carlo(1930), a comedy film directed by Ernst Lubitsch. It stars Jeanette MacDonald as Countess Helene Mara. The film is also known for the song "Beyond the Blue Horizon,". The film was called a masterpiece by critics.

In hopes of producing her own films, MacDonald went to United Artists to make The Lottery Bride (1930). MacDonald next signed a three-picture deal with 20th Century Fox. Oh, for a Man! (1930). MacDonald performed as a opera singer who sings Wagner's "Liebestod" and falls for an Irish burglar played by Reginald Denny. Don't Bet on Women (1931) was a non-musical comedy in which playboy Edmund Lowe bets his happily married friend Roland Young that he can seduce Young's wife (MacDonald). Annabelle's Affairs (1931) with MacDonald performed as a New York playgirl who doesn’t recognize her own miner husband, played by Victor MacLaglen, when he turns up 5 years later.

MacDonald left Hollywood in 1931 to perform in a European concert tour. She returned to Paramount the following year for two films with Maurice Chevalier. One Hour with You (1932). Cast: Maurice Chevalier as a Parisian doctor and Jeanette MacDonald as his wife. Chevalier is faithful, much to the surprise of his female patients. But when MacDonald's best friend Genevieve insists on being treated by Dr. Chevalier, it looks that Tobin may succeed where the other ladies failed.. The singing of Maurice Chevalier are the highlight of the film.

Love Me Tonight (1932), considered by many film critics to be the ultimate film musical. Please check out Monty's review located on the side bar.

In 1933 MacDonald left again for Europe and while there, signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Her first MGM film was The Cat and the Fiddle (1934). Her co-star was Ramon Novarro. The plot about unmarried lovers living together just barely slipped through the new Production Code guidelines that took effect July 1, 1934.

In The Merry Widow (1934), Maurice Chevalier and MacDonald reunited in the classic 1905 Franz Lehár operetta. The film was highly regarded by operetta fans.

Naughty Marietta(1935), based on the operetta of the same name by Victor Herbert: Jeanette MacDonald stars as a Princess who trades places with her maid Marietta in order to avoid an arranged marriage.
Click to view Naughty Marietta (1935) movie review.

The following year, MacDonald performed in two films:In Rose-Marie (1936).MacDonald played a opera diva who learns her brother (James Stewart) has killed a Mountie and is hiding in the northern woods; Eddy is the Mountie sent to capture him. She and Nelson Eddy sang Rudolf Friml's "Indian Love Call" to each other in the Canadian wilderness (actually filmed at Lake Tahoe). San Francisco (1936) was also directed by W.S. Van Dyke. In this movie of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, MacDonald played a hopeful opera singer opposite Clark Gable as the proprietor of a Barbary Coast gambling joint, and Spencer Tracy plays his best friend.

Maytime (1937), is thought of as one of the best film musicals of the 1930s. "Will You Remember" by Sigmund Romberg brought MacDonald another Gold record.

The Firefly (1937) was MacDonald's first solo-starring film at MGM with her name alone above the title. Rudolf Friml's 1912 stage score was borrowed and a new song, "The Donkey Serenade", added. With real-life Americans rushing to fight in the on going revolution in Spain. Followed by, The Girl of the Golden West (1938). The film had an original score by Sigmund Romberg.

Mayer had promised MacDonald the studio's first Technicolor movie Sweethearts (1938). Sweethearts won the Photoplay Gold Medal Award as Best Picture of the Year. Please check out "Sweethearts" movie review located on sidebar.

MacDonald and Lew Ayres (Young Dr. Kildare) co-starred in Broadway Serenade (1939). They played a musical couple who clash when her career flourishes while his does not. Choreographer Busby Berkeley, added an beautiful dance number for the finale .


  1. Nice post Dawn. I haven't seen too many of Jeanette's movies besides Love Me Tonight, which is awesome. One of the best musicals ever made. Thanks for posting about her Dawn.

  2. Thank you Monty, Jeanette is also a "new to me" actress. So far I have loved everything I have seen her perform in.

  3. I grew up watching and listening to Jeanette & Nelson Eddy. My mother loved them and I still do to this day and I am 65 now. They were America's Sweethearts and fabulous actors & singers. Makes you feel good just to see them together.