The Merry Widow

  • 1952
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Comedy, Musical

Though shot in glorious color, this version of Franz Lehar's classic operetta paled when compared to Ernst Lubitsch's brilliant 1934 black-and-white version. New lyrics by Paul Francis Webster and a reworked screenplay did nothing to enhance the story, though plenty was spent on the production and it did garner two Oscar nominations: Best Art Direction/Set...read more

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Though shot in glorious color, this version of Franz Lehar's classic operetta paled when compared to Ernst Lubitsch's brilliant 1934 black-and-white version. New lyrics by Paul Francis Webster and a reworked screenplay did nothing to enhance the story, though plenty was spent on the

production and it did garner two Oscar nominations: Best Art Direction/Set Decoration and Best Costumes. Crystal Radek (Lana Turner), the widow of a Marshovian blacksmith who immigrated to the US and amassed a huge fortune, is invited to her late husband's impoverished homeland to dedicate a

statue to him. This is a ploy devised by the king (Thomas Gomez), who assigns the suave Count Danilo (Fernando Lamas) to court and marry Crystal. The king then hopes to use her money to pay off the nation's debt. The reluctant Danilo mistakes the widow's secretary (Una Merkel, who played the queen

in 1934) for Crystal, who, upon discovering the plan, goes to Paris where she masquerades as a poor dancer at Maxim's, winning Danilo's heart. Aware that he is honor-bound to pursue the rich American woman but captivated by "the dancer," Danilo chooses love over duty, though, naturally, things

work out for all concerned.

Lamas is very charming as Danilo, and the secondary roles are well handled, but the big problem here is Turner, who lacks the insouciance needed for her role. The script was altered to shift most of the singing duties to Lamas, but when Turner did sing, her voice was looped by Trudy Erwin. Jack

Cole's dance creations don't come near Albertina Rasch's for the Lubitsch version, but careful viewers may note Gwen Verdon among the dancers. Songs include: "Vilia," (sung by Lamas this time, not the Widow) "Girls, Girls, Girls," "Night," "I'm Going to Maxim's," "Can Can," and "The Merry Widow

Waltz."

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Though shot in glorious color, this version of Franz Lehar's classic operetta paled when compared to Ernst Lubitsch's brilliant 1934 black-and-white version. New lyrics by Paul Francis Webster and a reworked screenplay did nothing to enhance the story, tho… (more)

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