The Love Parade - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Love Parade Reviews

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February 19, 2017
Director Ernst Lubitsch's final silent film, The Patriot (a Best Picture nominee the previous year), is a lost film unfortunately, but, thankfully, his first talkie and musical has been preserved and is available on home video as part of the Eclipse series released by the Criterion Collection. It also airs occasionally on TCM. The Love Parade received the most nominations of any film at the 3rd Academy Awards with a total of six, including nominations for Maurice Chevalier and Ernst Lubitsch, but it did not win in any category. This film is allegedly the first movie musical to incorporate songs and performances into the narrative, as opposed to a backstage musical, such as The Broadway Melody, in which the characters are singers and dancers.

Lubitsch, who had directed many silent films, takes to talking pictures quite well right out of the gate. There is nothing clunky or awkward with the composition and staging of shots or overall style that suggests someone working through a learning curve. Of course The Love Parade has several strong elements working together in addition to Lubitsch's skill behind the camera. Based on the play The Prince Consort, the script is loaded with lively dialogue, a sharp sense of humor that does not shy away from innuendo, and likeable characters. Maurice Chevalier plays Count Alfred, who is recalled from Paris to his homeland of Slyvania after (several) scandals involving married women.

Lubitsh transitions from silent filmmaking to working with sound and dialogue smoothly. He does not over indulge in dialogue and music and still uses silent visuals to great effect. When a servant in the Queen's palace asks why Alfred has a French accent, Alfred says that he went to see a doctor about a cold but was greeted by the doctor's wife. The movie cuts to an exterior shot of the palace and through a window we see Alfred whisper the rest of the story to the servant. When the movie cuts back inside Alfred says that the cold was gone, but he had that terrible accent. I had never seen a movie starring Maurice Chevalier before and he is as charming and lively and French as I'd imagined.

Jeanette MacDonald, in her screen debut, plays Queen Louise who in addition to having the responsibilities of a governing queen is also under pressure from her ministers and advisors to marry. The trouble with finding her a suitor is that he would be only Price Consort and have no power or responsibility in governing. She meets Count Alfred to reprimand him for his scandals, but they both quickly charm each other and flirt through song.

Aside from a dolly shot or two, I must confess that I was so caught up with the characters and story that I hardly noticed the camerawork, or lack thereof. Lubitsch fills the screen with entertainment, so even static shots are hardly dull. The songs are pleasing and catchy. The palace sets and costumes are opulent and impressive. There are memorable scenes both with and without music. From his balcony at the beginning of the film, Chevalier sings his goodbye to Paris and the women on nearby balconies. His valet, Jacques, played by Lupino Lane, joins in and sings goodbye to Parisian maids. Then Chevalier's dog sings, by barking, to the female dogs of Paris. We see none of Alfred and Louise's first date. Instead we see the Queen's advisors, her ladies in waiting, and Jacques and the Queen's maid spying on the date and reporting to each other like a game of telephone. The Queen's maid, Lulu, played by Lillian Roth, and Jacques have some good songs together too.

The Love Parade is almost overwhelmingly enjoyable, up to a point. There are two distinct halves to this movie. The first half is very funny, jaunty, and romantic. The second half, after Alfred and Louise are married, deals with their marital problems. There is still humor and entertainment value in this half of the film but at a diminished level. Queen Louise and Alfred seem to misunderstand and mistreat each other immediately after they are married and solely for the sake of dramatic conflict. Their main conflict is that Alfred does not have the traditional role of a man in their marriage or in the monarchy. Queen Louise runs the country and palace. Traditional gender roles in marriage and government being the central conflict of a musical from 1929 is interesting, however, as you might imagine, these issues are addressed but not challenged. The two tonally different halves of The Love Parade make for an uneven but overall enjoyable musical. There is still a lot to enjoyed in The Love Parade and it is a good step forward for the nascent musical genre.
Super Reviewer
November 23, 2016
Ernst Lubitsch's first talkie, Jeanette MacDonald's first screen appearance, and the first of many time these two would make movies with Maurice Chevalier. Lubitsch with his cinematographer managed to keep the camera moving through the grand set, which was something that most early talkie/musicals could not deliver. This film is a joyful romantic comedy. The battle of the sexes will still make you chuckle. The added comic relief, well not relief but zingers, of butler Jacques (Lupino Lane) and maid Lulu (Lillian Roth) were highly enjoyable. MacDonald is a regal, spoiled Queen. Chevalier is a scampish, charming Count (the model for the skunk Pepe Le Pew). There are grumpy cabinet members arguing over policy in the fictional country of Sylvania. Of course their main concern is finding the Queen a husband to subdue her moods and demands. And the Count loves the challenge of seducing the Queen. At first he is content with the gender reversal as he lounges around the palace while his wife goes to work making big decisions, but then like the cabinet members he turns quite sexist in insisting that she let him take more control. With impeccable comic timing and lilting melodies this famous screen couple leads the viewer through a love parade.
½ August 29, 2014
Frothy, incredibly sophisticated Lubitsch musical comedy. MacDonald sings "Dream Lover," and Chevalier is a delight. Great supporting work from Lane and Roth.
December 11, 2013
Enjoyed this the most out of the MacDonald/Chevalier/Lubitsch "musicals." This is the only one that actually feels like a musical as well, having more than two songs. Along with being very lovely Jeanette MacDonald has a pretty voice. Maurice Chevalier doesn't even annoy me in this movie, as he has with the other ones I've seen him in. The story is pretty light, but I found it interesting enough. I think it's gender politics is the most interesting thing about it. About halfway through the movie, Chevalier's character becomes a bit of a dick. Although he didn't seem to mind "doing nothing" as a Count his whole life before marrying the queen, he suddenly takes offense about it once married. Although most likely unqualified to balance a checkbook, suddenly he hands in a "government budget" that he wants to be implemented, and goes on a hissy fit and whines when it's not and blames Macdonald for clearly his insecurities with his ego. He can't seem to be content that his wife is the one with importance and power, and whines and complains the rest of the movie. He then uses Macdonald's feelings for him against herself, where at the end of the movie he requires her to "surrender" her royal power basically over to him (and of course in the dynamics of husband and wife). Although this is supposed to be a happy ending due to the times it was made, it is really interesting to see from a "modern" perspective that in a way Jeanette MacDonald's Queen basically loses her position and job as head of state to a weak man who can't abide her higher position over him (even though he knew the terms when he married her). I'm probably making more of this than I should, and it clearly wasn't the intention at the time, but it's what stands out to me watching it now.
Super Reviewer
December 11, 2013
I am really a fan of the Chevalier films. They have a modern quality despite the fact that they exist at the beginning of the film making era. Here we have a comedy of errors that is not tacky and speaks to genuine feelings.
Super Reviewer
½ December 26, 2012
His introduction to Hollywood earned him 6 Academy Award nominations, and its glamour is shown since the very first, impressive shot. Random musical numbers were rare by the time but Lubitsch was careful enough to adapt them to the plot so he didn't resemble a lunatic. Joyous performances and funny in a pure way, you can really spot the elements of the romantic comedy genre in Hollywood.

½ December 21, 2012
another early talkie from the master Lubistch musical lavishly filmed but still dated.
Super Reviewer
May 18, 2012
lubitsch's first sound film and the first hollywood musical with integrated songs, it's delightful to watch and remarkably modern for 1929. the gender swap and 'battle of the sexes' themes would soon become de rigueur and the film's stars, chevalier and jeanette macdonald would have long careers in hollywood musicals
August 21, 2011
A womanizing military attache finds himself married to the Queen of his country and a battle of the sexes ensues. This is another classic pre-code musical courtesy of Ernst Lubitsch and Maurice Chevalier. The film will be viewed as rather sexist today and the songs are not that memorable but the wit, charm and filmmaking artistry will definitely win most people over (yours truly included). Oh, and it's also quite funny.
July 26, 2011
I saw little to no people call this movie bad.
½ May 30, 2011
Delightfully naughty, with a sweet innocence.
April 10, 2011
Did not love this one although I do recognize it is a charming musical that was very popular back in 1929. Maurice Chevalier was captivating even though I fell asleep twice.
½ February 17, 2011
The Early Days of the Movie Musical

Honestly, I'm not entirely sure why [i]Oklahoma![/i] gets so much press as allegedly being the first American musical. Let's even leave aside the [i]Show Boat[/i] debate. If the important issue is a combination of a cohesive story and relevant songs, Hollywood was making musicals long before [i]Oklahoma![/i] was even thought of. Of course, the origins of few art forms are traceable to a specific moment and a specific work, and there are often arguments decades after the fact as to whether certain works qualify or not. Definitions can be slippery things. In fact, there are people who will argue the definition of a movie musical. However, I will say that this only barely meets my standards for a "book musical," in that I don't think the songs are as well integrated as people keep telling me they are.

Count Alfred Renard (Maurice Chevalier) is a military attaché from the imaginary country of It Doesn't Matter. He is stationed in Paris, which he loves. This being pre-Code, it is a joke that he's sleeping around, and with married women to boot. His conduct is considered so appalling that the ambassador (E. H. Calvert) sends him home again. In part because one of the women he's sleeping with is the ambassador's wife. At home, Queen Louise (Jeanette MacDonald) is being pressured to marry by her advisors, as single queens generally are. However, she points out that few men are inclined to just sit around and let their wives run things. A man wouldn't marry a woman for a crown if the crown didn't come with any power. But she meets Alfred, and he seems like enough of a gadabout that he'd welcome a cushy chance to have no responsibility. He thinks he'd like that, too. But of course if he did, hilarity would not ensue. In that 1929 hilarity where it's vaguely uncomfortable to the modern perspective.

Arguably, this movie should hold a record or tie for a record or something for percentage of Oscars it was nominated for. This is because there were a lot fewer Oscars in those days; it was eligible for all of them. Jeanette MacDonald wasn't nominated for Best Actress, and the screenplay wasn't nominated, either. It didn't win any, but it was nominated for the remaining six. This year, there are twenty-four categories. The highest total number any given film is eligible for is eighteen, though no movie has ever been nominated for that many. If it had, that would be the same percentage, and maybe digging around would produce another film which managed to be nominated in three-quarters of that year's categories. It would have had to have been a long time ago, though, probably not long after this one came out. [i]Return of the King[/i] was nominated for fewer than half in its eligible year.

The film makes the point that Queen Louise is treating her husband like a wife. She schedules him bridge and tennis and tells him to take a nap in the afternoon. Her servants won't take any commands from him. They won't even bring his breakfast until she is there, and if I saw that right, he didn't get breakfast when it was established that she wasn't coming. What the film never considers is that maybe a wife wouldn't have been happy with that, either. Yes, it's a shame that his talents were wasted when he wanted to do more. He produces a balanced budget which won't require the loan the country is trying to procure from I think Afghanistan, and they refuse to even look at it. That's wrong. But would it be any better if Maurice Chevalier had refused to look at a budget Jeanette MacDonald had produced?

I will say that it's a lot more civilized than it used to be. When Alfred gets frustrated, he decides to move to Paris. He's going to get a divorce. Oh, it may well bankrupt her country--since they're ignoring that budget he produced--but it's still all he plans to do. Whereas This sort of thing brings to my mind the battle Mary Queen of Scots had with her second husband. He was declared king, but it seems there were two kinds of king in those days. He was king consort, but he wanted to be king regnant. She had excellent reasons for not giving it to him, though it still didn't buy her reign that much time. I think, though, that it was his desire for it and her desire for him which brought her down. I guess the main difference here is that Alfred wasn't as much of a petulant child. Adolescent, yes. A little more rightfully upset, honestly. But it would never occur to him to do all the things Darnley did to his wife, which is good for both Alfred and Louise and for her kingdom.
Super Reviewer
½ January 1, 2011
A nice musical, pretty funny, especially towards the end, but it reminds me of The Taming of the Shrew a bit. Anyway, it's a fun musical.
½ June 29, 2010
lavish & good but not my cup of tea.
½ February 19, 2010
A charming musical. Outstanding art direction, costumes and sound, some really great songs. Suave performance from Maurice Chevalier, good support from Lupino Lane and Lillian Roth. Stylishly light direction from Ernst Lubitsch. Jeannette McDonald's performance is a bit wooden though. Overall though it is a fine film.
September 16, 2009
tiene mucho carisma y me hizo reír a carcajadas
August 30, 2009
This kind of musical is so much better than those cinemascope, 1950's, 3-hour ones that are supposedly classics. This kicks West Side Story and The Sound of Music in the ass. This is funny, sweet, and has an actually good love story at its heart.
½ April 13, 2009
Another nice Lubitsch-Chevalier-McDonald musical comedy. The sexual politics are pretty effed, and the runtime feels padded, but the performances, especially by the supporting players, make it worth a look.
½ December 27, 2008
Pre-code, which is half the fun of it, as you see the maneuverings used to get around the obvious. Still, I liked some of his stuff better.
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