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Naughty Marietta

Nelson Eddy made his full-fledged debut in this, the first of eight films in which he costarred with Jeanette MacDonald. Rita Johnson Young and Victor Herbert's hoary operetta was dusted off, given a new screenplay, new lyrics by Gus Kahn, and the result was a neatly paced (by "One-Take" Woodie Van Dyke) Best Picture nominee that only slightly belies its stage origins. Fleeing an arranged marriage to a Spanish grandee (Walter Kingsford), French princess Marie de Namours de la Bonfain (MacDonald) switches places with her maid and boards a ship bound for Louisana, where its female passengers are to become colonial brides. En route the ship is attacked by pirates, but the women are soon rescued by a group of soldiers led by Capt. Richard Warrington (Eddy), with whom the princess, now calling herself Marietta, falls in love. In New Orleans, she continues to conceal her identity, avoiding marriage by claiming to be a woman of ill repute. Eventually Capt. Warrington comes to the realization that he is in love with Marietta, but several hurdles stand in the way of their happiness, including arrest and the appearance of the princess' father (Douglas Dumbrille), who is determined to take his daughter back to her marital obligations in France. A much underrated if not great film, NAUGHTY MARIETTA features some particulary amusing supporting work by Harold Huber and Edward Brophy. Eddy is actually much better than most would have it, and his singing is quite stirring. MacDonald, though, is really the one in excellent form here, whether blasting the lengthy final high C of the "Italian Street Song" right in Nelson Eddy's face or doing an hilarious impersonation of a gluttonous, bespectacled woman on board the ship. One should admit, though, that the film isn't nearly as good some of her others, most notably THE MERRY WIDOW, where her comedic talents are in full bloom.