The Night Is Young


1h 20m 1935
The Night Is Young

Brief Synopsis

A European nobleman falls for a ballerina.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Release Date
Jan 11, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Synopsis

When ballerina Fanni learns that the Vienese archduke, Paul Gustave, is expected to be in the audience of her next performance, she immediately makes plans to court the wealthy bachelor and spurn Willy Fitch, her sweetheart. Though Fanni assures her friend and fellow dancer Lisl Gluck that her pursuit of the archduke will be done strictly in the name of "patriotism," Lisl advises her to stick with Willy, a carriage driver. As planned, the handsome Paul spies the lovely ballerinas on stage, but instead of choosing Fanni, he becomes interested in Lisl. Paul, who is expected to marry Countess Rafay, is informed that for state reasons the marriage cannot take place for another six months. Seizing this opportunity, Paul decides to keep young Lisl as his secret lover during that time. Lisl, who is engaged to Toni, a failing ballet producer, is invited to attend a dinner at Paul's villa by his valet, Szereny, and though she rejects the offer, the valet tells her that she must accept the invitation. Fanny, upon learning that the archduke has passed her over in favor of her friend, tells Willy that she is now available for marriage. Willy, however, shows little enthusiasm for marriage, and sings a song in which he praises the virtues of his horse "Mitzi" instead of those of his wife-to-be. When Lisl arrives at the archduke'e palace, she is subjected to a rigorous physical inspection by Szereny to insure that she meets Paul's requirements, an examination that she finds offensive and degrading. When she finally meets Paul, he is less than amorous and immediately tells her that his relationship with her will have nothing to do with love, and that she will be expected to live in special quarters in the house and not disturb him. Paul is surprised, however, to learn that Lisl is not interested in making love to him either. Later, when Paul spends an evening out with the Countess Rafay, the lonely Lisl invites Toni and Willy to visit her. Upon his return, the ill-tempered archduke prepares to admonish her for conducting such merriment in his home, but softens when he hears her sing. A romance between Paul and Lisl soon blooms when the two are stranded on a carnival ferris wheel and are forced to spend the night together. The next day, the lovers are visited by the jealous Toni, who accuses Lisl of walking out on their planned marriage. However, Toni immediately permits Lisl to resume her romance with Paul when he learns that the archduke intends to finance his ballet. Though Paul is willing to sacrifice his title in order to get out of his arranged marriage to Countess Rafay and marry Lisl, the emperor insists that the arranged marriage take place. When Paul informs Lisl that he must leave her, Szereny consoles the devastated Lisl, and following a tearful farewell dinner, Paul asks Lisl to kiss him and then turn around and never look back.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Release Date
Jan 11, 1935
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
9 reels

Articles

The Night Is Young - The Night is Young


A romantic MGM musical based on Sigmund Romberg's 1924 stage operetta The Student Prince, The Night Is Young (1935) has music and lyrics by Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II. It did not do very well upon release and fell into obscurity because at the time, MGM had just started a much higher-profile cycle of operettas starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. Seen today, it offers quite a few delights and is interesting for the chance it provides to see a fine cast of actors at various career stages.

First, there's Ramon Novarro, that Latin Lover of the silent screen whose popularity as a romantic idol was eclipsed in his day only by Rudolf Valentino and John Gilbert. Novarro's most famous part had been Ben-Hur (1925); with the coming of sound, his romantic roles waned, and he gradually fizzled into character parts and, later on, television. His last feature film would be Heller in Pink Tights (1960). The Night Is Young - in which he plays an archduke who falls for a ballet dancer (Evelyn Laye) but must marry a princess (Rosalind Russell) - finds him in the midst of his downward career trajectory. In fact, this was the last picture he made under his MGM contract. With Novarro gone, only Norma Shearer remained of the studio's original 1924 group of stars. (Novarro did appear later in the MGM western The Outriders, in 1950.)

By way of contrast, Rosalind Russell was just starting what would be a hugely successful career on screen and stage. This was her fourth picture, and she is eighth-billed. Her role is essentially a walk-on, too small to allow her to do much of anything with it. In her memoir Life Is a Banquet (co-written with Chris Chase), Russell recalled her career at MGM: "I was never a top star at Metro. When I went there I...was already in my twenties, and I didn't fit neatly into the pattern of stars and the star system...I was in the second echelon. That was the way they ran the lot. I once said I never got a part at Metro unless Myrna Loy turned it down, and while that was meant to be funny, there was a grain of truth to it. They had me as a threat behind Myrna, the same way they had Luise Rainer behind Garbo. Every time Myrna asked for a change in her contract or a raise, the brass could say, 'Never mind, Roz Russell will do the picture,' and this system worked very beautifully." Russell would go on to earn four Oscar® nominations for Best Actress and would win the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1973.

Novarro's co-star here is the lovely Evelyn Laye, a famous British stage actress who steals the movie from him. She appeared in a handful of British films in the 1930s (and a handful more in the '70s and '80s) but made only two American pictures, One Heavenly Night (1931) and The Night Is Young, preferring for the most part to work in the theater.

In smaller roles are various other silent screen veterans. Una Merkel, for instance, had started in silents before spending the bulk of the 1920s on Broadway; in 1930 she returned to Hollywood for a long career as a character actress. Henry Stephenson was yet another stage veteran who got his start in silents and then went on to a career of character roles, usually as gentlemen of good breeding in historical dramas. Even Edward Everett Horton, best known for his sidekick roles in Astaire-Rogers musicals, had a significant silent career before making his first talkie.

"Snub" Pollard, a major silent screen presence who made slapstick comedies for Hal Roach and Harold Lloyd, appears here as a drummer. And look also for fan favorite Herman Bing, a German-born character actor who appeared in over 100 movies from 1929-1946. His German accent is unmistakable.

The Night Is Young was one of six features from 1935 to be credited to renowned cameraman James Wong Howe. He would eventually amass ten Oscar® nominations over his long career, winning the statuette twice.

Romberg's operetta has been the basis for other movies including, most famously, the MGM production The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927), which also starred Novarro. Two songs from The Night Is Young became hits: The title song and "When I Grow Too Old to Dream."

Producer: Harry Rapf
Director: Dudley Murphy
Screenplay: Edgar Allan Woolf, Franz Schulz; Vicki Baum (story)
Cinematography: James Wong Howe
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Film Editing: Conrad A. Nervig
Cast: Ramon Novarro (Archduke Paul 'Gustl' Gustave), Evelyn Laye (Elizabeth Katherine Anne 'Lisl' Gluck), Charles Butterworth (Willy Fitch), Una Merkel (Fanni Kerner), Edward Everett Horton (Baron Szereny), Rosalind Russell (Countess Zarika Rafay).
BW-81m.

by Jeremy Arnold
The Night Is Young - The Night Is Young

The Night Is Young - The Night is Young

A romantic MGM musical based on Sigmund Romberg's 1924 stage operetta The Student Prince, The Night Is Young (1935) has music and lyrics by Romberg and Oscar Hammerstein II. It did not do very well upon release and fell into obscurity because at the time, MGM had just started a much higher-profile cycle of operettas starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. Seen today, it offers quite a few delights and is interesting for the chance it provides to see a fine cast of actors at various career stages. First, there's Ramon Novarro, that Latin Lover of the silent screen whose popularity as a romantic idol was eclipsed in his day only by Rudolf Valentino and John Gilbert. Novarro's most famous part had been Ben-Hur (1925); with the coming of sound, his romantic roles waned, and he gradually fizzled into character parts and, later on, television. His last feature film would be Heller in Pink Tights (1960). The Night Is Young - in which he plays an archduke who falls for a ballet dancer (Evelyn Laye) but must marry a princess (Rosalind Russell) - finds him in the midst of his downward career trajectory. In fact, this was the last picture he made under his MGM contract. With Novarro gone, only Norma Shearer remained of the studio's original 1924 group of stars. (Novarro did appear later in the MGM western The Outriders, in 1950.) By way of contrast, Rosalind Russell was just starting what would be a hugely successful career on screen and stage. This was her fourth picture, and she is eighth-billed. Her role is essentially a walk-on, too small to allow her to do much of anything with it. In her memoir Life Is a Banquet (co-written with Chris Chase), Russell recalled her career at MGM: "I was never a top star at Metro. When I went there I...was already in my twenties, and I didn't fit neatly into the pattern of stars and the star system...I was in the second echelon. That was the way they ran the lot. I once said I never got a part at Metro unless Myrna Loy turned it down, and while that was meant to be funny, there was a grain of truth to it. They had me as a threat behind Myrna, the same way they had Luise Rainer behind Garbo. Every time Myrna asked for a change in her contract or a raise, the brass could say, 'Never mind, Roz Russell will do the picture,' and this system worked very beautifully." Russell would go on to earn four Oscar® nominations for Best Actress and would win the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 1973. Novarro's co-star here is the lovely Evelyn Laye, a famous British stage actress who steals the movie from him. She appeared in a handful of British films in the 1930s (and a handful more in the '70s and '80s) but made only two American pictures, One Heavenly Night (1931) and The Night Is Young, preferring for the most part to work in the theater. In smaller roles are various other silent screen veterans. Una Merkel, for instance, had started in silents before spending the bulk of the 1920s on Broadway; in 1930 she returned to Hollywood for a long career as a character actress. Henry Stephenson was yet another stage veteran who got his start in silents and then went on to a career of character roles, usually as gentlemen of good breeding in historical dramas. Even Edward Everett Horton, best known for his sidekick roles in Astaire-Rogers musicals, had a significant silent career before making his first talkie. "Snub" Pollard, a major silent screen presence who made slapstick comedies for Hal Roach and Harold Lloyd, appears here as a drummer. And look also for fan favorite Herman Bing, a German-born character actor who appeared in over 100 movies from 1929-1946. His German accent is unmistakable. The Night Is Young was one of six features from 1935 to be credited to renowned cameraman James Wong Howe. He would eventually amass ten Oscar® nominations over his long career, winning the statuette twice. Romberg's operetta has been the basis for other movies including, most famously, the MGM production The Student Prince in Old Heidelberg (1927), which also starred Novarro. Two songs from The Night Is Young became hits: The title song and "When I Grow Too Old to Dream." Producer: Harry Rapf Director: Dudley Murphy Screenplay: Edgar Allan Woolf, Franz Schulz; Vicki Baum (story) Cinematography: James Wong Howe Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Film Editing: Conrad A. Nervig Cast: Ramon Novarro (Archduke Paul 'Gustl' Gustave), Evelyn Laye (Elizabeth Katherine Anne 'Lisl' Gluck), Charles Butterworth (Willy Fitch), Una Merkel (Fanni Kerner), Edward Everett Horton (Baron Szereny), Rosalind Russell (Countess Zarika Rafay). BW-81m. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film marked the American screen debut of European musical comedy performer Evelyn Laye, who returned to Britain permanently following her work in the picture. Although a Hollywood Reporter production chart lists Stuart Erwin in the cast, his appearance in the released film is doubtful. Soon after production on this picture began, Hollywood Reporter announced the addition of actors Chico De Verdi and Art Berry to the cast, but their appearance in the released film has not been determined. A Hollywood Reporter pre-release news item indicates that star Ramon Novarro and director Dudley Murphy were involved in some minor disputes during production, including one in which Novarro "blew up" when Murphy informed him that he would not be permitted to come down from his seat on a ferris wheel, where he was to spend most of the day for the filming of a scene. Following this picture, Novarro's contract to do another film for M-G-M, entitled Love While You May, was "abrogated by mutual consent," making this his last picture for the studio until 1950, when he was cast in The Outriders. According to another Hollywood Reporter news item, due to the fact that the action of the film is "so completely wedded to the music, the entire script was mimeographed on special music paper, with the action and dialogue inserted between the staves and timed to each measure." An unidentified source in the AMPAS production file for The Night Is Young credits Henry Grace with the set decoration, along with Edwin B. Willis.