The Toast of New Orleans


1h 37m 1950
The Toast of New Orleans

Brief Synopsis

A New Orleans fisherman fights snobbery to become an opera star.

Film Details

Also Known As
Kiss of Fire, Serenade to Suzette, This Weekend Is Yours
Genre
Romance
Musical
Music
Release Date
Sep 29, 1950
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,716ft

Synopsis

In the early 1900s, in the swamplands of Louisiana, the Cajun fishing village of Bayou Minou is buzzing with activity as it prepares for the annual celebration of the blessing of the fishing fleet. During the festival, the village hosts two guests of honor from New Orleans: opera star Suzette Micheline and opera director Jacques Riboudeaux. Soon after arriving in Bayou Minou, Suzette, who has a romantic understanding with Jacques, meets the handsome and uncouth Pepe Abellard Duvalle, the nephew of fisherman Nicky Duvalle. Though Suzette is initially attracted to Pepe, she soon becomes perturbed by his crude manners, and is angered when he interrupts her musical recital at the festival and turns her solo into a duet. Jacques, however, is greatly impressed with Pepe's beautiful tenor voice, and invites Pepe to train in New Orleans and sing in his opera. Pepe initially rejects the offer, but later changes his mind when a ferocious storm sinks his uncle's fishing boat. Pepe and Nicky leave Bayou Minou in the hope that Pepe will be able to make enough money to buy a new boat. Soon after Pepe arrives in New Orleans, Jacques decides he must make Pepe more presentable in public, and enlists the help of Suzette to soften his "rough edges." Jacques also hires his well-heeled friend Oscar to teach Jacques some high society manner. Jacques later takes Pepe to Maestro P. Trellini, who is amazed at Pepe's voice and agrees to train him. One evening, Pepe and Nicky join Jacques and Suzette for an elegant dinner at a fancy restaurant, but they nearly spoil the evening with their crude country manners. While Oscar continues to teach Pepe about social graces, Trellini makes great progress training Pepe's voice. Jacques eventually becomes so confident in his new tenor that he makes plans to include Pepe in a worldwide tour of his opera. Suzette takes great pleasure in refining Pepe's behavior and tastes, and a romance appears inevitable. Suzette, however, is torn between her attraction to Pepe and her desire to please Jacques, who is responsible for advancing her singing career. One day, when Pepe tries to kiss Suzette, she rejects him and then hurriedly asks Jacques to marry her. Nicky, meanwhile, becomes homesick and impatient with his nephew's efforts to become rich and vows to return to Bayou Manou. Later, Pepe tells Jacques that he is in love with Suzette and that he intends to leave New Orleans because she has spurned him. Although Jacques now realizes that Suzette proposed to him only to save her career, he encourages Pepe to stay in New Orleans and continue his opera training. Tina and Pierre, two of Pepe's friends from Bayou Manou, visit Pepe one day, but they are disappointed when they discover that their fun-loving friend has become cold and rigid. Eventually, Suzette and Jacques, too, become alarmed at the change in Pepe's personality. After rejecting a marriage proposal from Pepe, Suzette explains to Jacques that she was in love with Pepe before he became so refined, but no longer has feelings for him. When Tina and Pierre leave New Orleans because they are bored, Pepe finally realizes that he has changed for the worse. During a performance of Madame Butterfly , Pepe reverts to his natural behavior and, as a result, is able to reignite his romance with Suzette.

Film Details

Also Known As
Kiss of Fire, Serenade to Suzette, This Weekend Is Yours
Genre
Romance
Musical
Music
Release Date
Sep 29, 1950
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 37m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,716ft

Award Nominations

Best Song

1950

Articles

The Toast of New Orleans


After their success together in That Midnight Kiss (1949), MGM hoped to make Philadelphia-born opera virtuoso Mario Lanza and Anchors Away (1945) star Kathryn Grayson into a new Jeanette MacDonald-Nelson Eddy duo, quickly putting them together again in this Cajun-spiced musical about the bon temps that rouler between a visiting opera diva (Grayson) and the crass yet alluring local Pepe (Lanza). Of course, everyone in this small fishing hamlet is a gifted singer and/or dancer, including Rita Moreno in an early role she later joked was one of many for which she employed her "universal ethnic accent". Lanza's once-in-a-lifetime voice is on exquisite display in the film's many songs, but off-screen he was already showing the signs of a destructive self-indulgence: long Chivas Regal-quaffing sessions with co-star David Niven, devouring entire pizzas by himself and alienating Grayson with his garlic breath, and, after one series of takes, grabbing Grayson's arms so forcefully the scripted slap she was supposed to bestow upon him turned into a closed-fist punch. Lanza made several more films before his demons overran him, but here he is young and powerful, with talent in full flower.

By Violet LeVoit
The Toast Of New Orleans

The Toast of New Orleans

After their success together in That Midnight Kiss (1949), MGM hoped to make Philadelphia-born opera virtuoso Mario Lanza and Anchors Away (1945) star Kathryn Grayson into a new Jeanette MacDonald-Nelson Eddy duo, quickly putting them together again in this Cajun-spiced musical about the bon temps that rouler between a visiting opera diva (Grayson) and the crass yet alluring local Pepe (Lanza). Of course, everyone in this small fishing hamlet is a gifted singer and/or dancer, including Rita Moreno in an early role she later joked was one of many for which she employed her "universal ethnic accent". Lanza's once-in-a-lifetime voice is on exquisite display in the film's many songs, but off-screen he was already showing the signs of a destructive self-indulgence: long Chivas Regal-quaffing sessions with co-star David Niven, devouring entire pizzas by himself and alienating Grayson with his garlic breath, and, after one series of takes, grabbing Grayson's arms so forcefully the scripted slap she was supposed to bestow upon him turned into a closed-fist punch. Lanza made several more films before his demons overran him, but here he is young and powerful, with talent in full flower. By Violet LeVoit

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles for this film were Serenade to Suzette, Kiss of Fire and This Weekend Is Yours. The film marked the motion picture acting debut of composer and conductor Richard Hageman. According to a December 1949 Daily Variety news item, Armando Agnini, who staged the opera sequences in the film, worked for the Metropoitan Opera. Nicholas Brodszky and Sammy Cahn's song "Be My Love" was nominated for an Academy Award.