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The original play of Love Me Tonight by Leopold Marchand and Paul Armont featured a street urchin named Kiki who helps resolve the plot. Paramount had hired Jackie Coogan's brother Robert for the film role, but director Rouben Mamoulian decided to cut it.
The script for Love Me Tonight features sly references to the stars' images. The lead characters are named Maurice and Princess Jeanette. When the camera first moves into Maurice Chevalier's room, his trade-marked straw hat is seen hanging on the wall over an arrangement of cracks and stains that are actually a caricature of the star. Not only is MacDonald's character as straight-laced as the actress was off-screen, but she meets Chevalier when her carriage is overturned. Two years before the film's release, MacDonald was rumored to have been the mystery woman involved in a car crash with Italy's Prince Umberto (she was nowhere near Europe at the time, but she was his favorite movie star).
When he couldn't find a street on the Paramount back lot suitable for one scene, Mamoulian had the studio rent one of MGM's street sets, moving the entire company there for a few days.
Myrna Loy's few lines in the song, "The Son of a Gun Is a Tailor," mark the only time she ever sang on screen.
Memorable Quotes from LOVE ME TONIGHT
"I fell flat on my flute." -- Charles Butterworth as the Count de Savignac.
"Valentine, can you go for a doctor?"
"Certainly, bring him right in."--Charlie Ruggles, as Viscount Gilbert de Vereze, and Myrna Loy, as Countess Valentine, when the latter faints.
"You're not wasting away, you're just wasted." -- Joseph Cawthorn, as Dr. Armand de Fontinac, describing the medical problems of Jeanette MacDonald, as Princess Jeanette.
"A peach must be eaten, a drum must be beaten, and a woman needs something like that." -- Cawthorn, as Dr. Armand de Fontinac.
"What are you doing now?"
"I'm thinking. I'm thinking of you without these clothes."
"Open your eyes at once!"
"Oh no, pardon madam. With different clothes. Smart clothes." -- MacDonald, questioning the intentions of Maurice Chevalier, as Maurice Courtelin.
"Tell me, do you ever think of anything but men, dear?"
"Schoolboys."-- MacDonald and Loy, as Countess Valentine.
"You know too much about hunting, etiquette, tradition. You know nothing about style, charm, love" -- Chevalier, as Maurice Courtelin, assessing MacDonald
Compiled by Frank Miller
Greta Garbo took on Hollywood's biggest studio and won her case before she would setfoot on the set of Love, the 1927 adaptation of Tolstoy's Anna Karenina.Not only did she get MGM to raise her salary, but through a carefully timed "illness," she even got them to give her the leading man she wanted.
Although Garbo had been at MGM for just two years, in which time she hadonly had two films released, she knew she was worth more than the $600 aweek her current contract gave her. She had scored solid reviews andstrong box office with her first two American films. As studio publicistsraved about her torrid love scenes with John Gilbert in the stillunreleased Flesh and the Devil, and gossip about their offscreenromance spread, her fan mail began to approach her leading man's 5,000 letters aweek.
At Gilbert's urging -- they were living together at the time -- shecampaigned for a new contract to start at $5,000 a week. Instead, studiohead Louis B. Mayer simply informed her that she was to start work on anadaptation of Anna Karenina co-starring Ricardo Cortez and LionelBarrymore and directed by Dmitri Buchowetsky. Only Garbo wouldn't reportto work. Mayer put her on suspension, threatened to have her deported,threatened to replace her with a look-alike and even threatened to burn offher current contract with minor roles. But she just laughed him off,countering that if she had to she could stay in the U.S. by marryingGilbert, whom Mayer hated.
Then MGM released Flesh and the Devil, which turned out to beGarbo's biggest hit to date. Realizing that he needed the independent starmore than she needed him, Mayer finally agreed on a contract raising hersalary to $2,000 a week, increasing to $4,000 the second year, $5,000 thethird and $6,000 the fourth. And still it wasn't enough. The new contractwasn't supposed to kick in until Anna Karenina was completed, soGarbo got sick -- too sick to report to work for a month. And she wonagain, convincing Mayer to backdate the contract to the beginning of theyear.
Conveniently, Garbo's return to work coincided with the completion ofGilbert's latest picture. With the tremendous box-office reaction to theirteaming, Thalberg decided to replace Cortez with Gilbert. In addition, hebrought on Edmund Goulding, already famous for his ability to showcasefemale stars, to direct. With the new team, Thalberg decided to change thefilm's title to something reflecting the star pairing. Someone suggestedHeat, but that would have resulted in marquees reading "John Gilbertand Greta Garbo in Heat." Instead, he called the pictureLove, using the tag line, "John Gilbert and Greta Garbo inLove....What more could be said about a picture -- see it."
And that's just what the public did. The film scored solidly at the boxoffice, despite mixed notices. Most of the reviewers found the film ratherone-sided, putting all the focus on Garbo at the expense of the otherperformers. This was tempered by their delight in Garbo's work. MordauntHall in the New York Times said "Greta Garbo, the Swedish actress,outshines any other performance she has given on the screen" and called her"a blonde Mona Lisa." Variety used language that seems ratherinappropriate today in light of what Garbo's career would become; theycalled her "the biggest skirt prospect now in pictures."
One element helping the film's box office was the addition of a happyending that reunited Anna and Vronsky after her husband's death. At leastit helped outside the major American cities, where this rather originaltake on Tolstoy's story played like gangbusters. For the major U.S. citiesand Europe, however, the film kept the novel's original ending, with Garbothrowing herself in front of a train - the same ending that would be usedwhen Garbo re-made the film, with Fredric March in the lead, in 1935. Forthis TCM presentation, both endings will be shown, giving viewers a chanceto decide for themselves how Anna's tortured romance should haveended.
Producer & Director: Edmund Goulding
Screenplay: Frances Marion, Lorna Moon
Titles: Marian Ainslee, Ruth Cummings
Based on the novel Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Cinematography: William H. Daniels
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Alexander Toluboff
Score: Howard Dietz, Walter Donaldson, Ernst LuzPrincipal Cast: Greta Garbo (Anna Karenina), John Gilbert (Vronsky), George Fawcett (Grand Duke), Emily Fitzroy (Grand Duchess), Brandon Hurst (Karenin), Philippe De Lacy (Serezha, the Child).
by Frank Miller