Capitalizing on the successful teaming of Mario Lanza and Kathryn Grayson in THAT MIDNIGHT KISS, MGM rushed this film, a virtual carbon copy of the earlier effort--with the notable addition of David Niven--into production. In New Orleans, 1905, during the traditional "Blessing of the
Fleet," rough-and-ready fisherman Pepe Abellard Duvalle (Lanza) can't keep his eyes off opera diva Suzette Micheline (Grayson), the annual rite's guest of honor. He's so distracted that he doesn't get his uncle's boat to the blessing. Without the Fates on its side the boat sinks in a freak storm,
but when Suzette's manager, Jacques Riboudeaux (Niven), who has more than a professional interest in his charge, hears Pepe's magnificent tenor, he invites him to join Suzette's opera company. Smitten with the beautiful singer, Pepe accepts, but when Suzette doesn't return his affection, he
decides to go back to the boats. Jacques then smooths over some of Pepe's rough edges and by the last reel, Suzette sees the romantic light, though it's Pepe's sincerity and not his newfound suavity that does the trick.
An even bigger hit than THAT MIDNIGHT KISS, THE TOAST OF NEW ORLEANS is blessed with a fine score by Sammy Cahn and Nicholas Brodszky, including the Oscar-nominated "Be My Love," and nice comedic turns by J. Carrol Naish as Pepe's uncle (one of many Italian roles the Irish-American actor performed
over the years), Sig Arno, and Clinton Sundberg. In a small role, note Rita Moreno, long before she made her mark on Broadway. Songs, by Sammy Cahn and Nicholas Brodszky, include the Oscar-nominated "Be My Love" (sung by Lanza and Grayson), "Tina Lina" (Lanza, then reprised as a dance), "I'll
Never Love You," "The Toast of New Orleans," "Song of the Bayou," and "Boom Biddy Boom Boom." Classical excerpts: "Je Suis Titania" (from "Mignon," Ambroise Thomas), "M'Appari" (from "Martha," Fredrich von Flotow), "Flower Song" (from "Carmen," Georges Bizet), "Brindisi" (from "La Traviata,"
Giuseppe Verdi), "O Paradiso" (from "La Gioconda," Amilcare Ponchielli), plus the love duet from "Madame Butterfly" by Giacomo Puccini.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Capitalizing on the successful teaming of Mario Lanza and Kathryn Grayson in THAT MIDNIGHT KISS, MGM rushed this film, a virtual carbon copy of the earlier effort--with the notable addition of David Niven--into production. In New Orleans, 1905, during the… (more)