Review: Rose-Marie (1936)

In 1936, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer was planning a follow up to the success they found in the previous year with Naughty Marietta, and after much deliberation, they decided to produce a musical adaption of 1928’s Rose-Marie which went on to be one of the greatest musical successes in MGM history.

Cosseted opera star Marie de Flor, played by Jeanette MacDonald, is sent to the Canadian wilderness, an unfitting location for a woman of her attitude, in search of her fugitive brother John, played by newcomer James Stewart. She gets more than she bargained for when she comes across a group of Mounties, members of Canada’s federal police force, led by Nelson Eddy’s Sergeant Bruce. The pair, both in search of John, take to the wilderness in tandem, learning a lot about one another and begin an unlikely friendship.

Both known for their talents as singers, she a soprano and he an operatically trained tenor, their beautiful performances of the songs is the high point of the film. Eddy’s lack of acting ability was a factor that even the usually fastidious studio executives passed off, favouring his operatic voice, which had such strength that it was enough to lift the hearts of the viewers while carrying the film successfully.

MacDonald’s acting ability, often overshadowed by her winsomely angelic voice, is criminally underrated, proven in the way she so wonderfully captures Marie’s transition from spoilt star to benign sweetheart. This change plays a significant part in the development of her character and, overall the effect of the film, making it relatable and affecting.

Although Eddy’s performance is, at times, emotionless, the real-life mutual admiration and adoration between himself and MacDonald heightens the chemistry between them, forming a connection between them, giving the viewer a voyeuristic and intimate insight into their relationship.

Rose-Marie may appear to be quite dated in comparison to other films of its time, but the musical numbers and the heartwarming script have not lost their magic and can still be enjoyed by people of all ages who are after 120 minutes of pure 1930s magic. The second – and often considered the best – of MacDonald and Eddy’s eight collaborations, it is a lovely film sure to make you smile.

Rating: ★★★

This post was my contribution to the MGM Blogathon hosted by the Metzinger sisters of Silver Scenes! You can read more of the posts here, there’s a whole lotta wonderful films that a whole lotta wonderful people have written about! Happy 90th anniversary, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer!

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5 Responses to Review: Rose-Marie (1936)

  1. I adore an operetta, and Nelson and Jeanette make my heart soar. As a Canadian, I always get a kick out of seeing “us” through Hollywood’s eyes. While our Mounties are excellent riders I have yet to hear their voices raised in song. Most disappointing. Long live Rudolf Friml!

  2. I’ve never seen Rose Marie, but one film that I really liked MacDonald in was San Fransisco (1936). I thought she was wonderful in it. I’ll have to watch Rose Marie next – I’ll check the library to see if they’ve got a copy available 🙂

  3. girlsdofilm says:

    I haven’t seen this in a while, but I remember how much James Stewart’s appearance surprised me. In my head he rocked up in Hollywood as a full-fledged movie star! The other overriding impression from this film was how unashamedly romantic it is. Nelson and Jeannette have such great chemistry!

  4. I love Nelson Eddy/Jeannette MacDonald movies…if the singing doesn’t get too carried away. This sounds like one to see, though. Like Caftan Woman above, I always get a kick out of seeing how Canada is portrayed by classic Hollywood. 🙂

  5. Le says:

    Right now I’m feeling the urg to ship MacEddy. They are amazing together, and I agree with you that Jeanette is underrated as an actress. She has some delightful face expressions in Love Me Tonight.
    Don’t forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! 🙂

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