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Romance in the Dark

Romance in the Dark(1938)

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In Hungary, Ilona Boros, a beautiful young peasant singer, meets famous opera star Antal "Tony" Kovach and his business manager, Zoltan Jason, at her music school graduation. Taking Tony's offhand compliment about her singing in earnest, she goes to Budapest hoping he will grant her an audition. Tony, however, is too involved in his competition with Jason for the affection of the beautiful Countess Monica Foldessy to notice Ilona. Instead Ilona is hired by Tony's feisty butler, Fritz, to be the new maid. One morning, however, she takes advantage of her position and removes cotton from Tony's ears and improvises an audition. At first, Tony demands she be fired for waking him, but after receiving a call from Jason informing him he has a booking in New York, Tony realizes Jason is trying to get him away from the countess and decides to use Ilona to lure Jason's attention away from the countess. He buys Ilona a luxurious wardrobe and takes her with him to his rented summer home next to the countess's estate. While Ilona falls in love with Tony, he spends all of his days and nights with the countess, until one evening he is struck by Ilona's beauty. He falls in love with her and becomes reluctant to carry through his plan to get Jason interested in her. Ilona has been going along with the farce because Tony promised her an audition with Jason, so after Jason arrives, she pretends to be an Egyptian princess, named Zilona. The ruse works, and Jason becomes enamored by Ilona's allure and beautiful voice and offers to book her at the opera house in Budapest. When Fritz reveals to her that Tony is using her as a foil so he can carry out his affair with the countess, however, Ilona indignantly leaves with Jason for Budapest. Tony ends his relationship with the outraged countess, because he is really in love with Ilona. Jason's promotional campaign goes so well that Ilona's opening night is sold out. A gossip columnist overhears that Ilona is a fake, however, and prints a special edition that is distributed during intermission. Although the audience gave her a standing ovation in the first act, the newspaper's allegations turn them against Ilona and they throw food and make catcalls during the second act. Ilona bravely attempts to continue and openly confesses to the fraud. The audience finally quiets when Tony appears on stage and sings a duet with his beloved Ilona. During the course of the song, they reconcile, while Jason loses the countess to his butler, Von Hemisch.