Sweethearts


2h 1938
Sweethearts

Brief Synopsis

Bickering husband-and-wife stage stars are manipulated into a break-up for publicity purposes.

Film Details

Also Known As
Victor Herbert's Sweethearts
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 30, 1938
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Dec 1938
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the operetta Sweethearts , book and lyrics by Fred de Gresac, Harry B. Smith and Robert B. Smith, music by Victor Herbert. (New York, 8 Sep 1913).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Synopsis

On the sixth anniversary of the enormously successful Broadway revival of Victor Herbert's operetta Sweethearts , the show's stars, Gwen Marlowe and Ernest Lane, are also celebrating their sixth wedding anniversary. Gwen and Ernest are still very much in love, but are tired of constantly working and yearn for a vacation away from Broadway and constant pressures put upon them by their respective families. Felix Lehman, their friend and producer, is worried that Gwen and Ernest are planning to leave the show to go to Hollywood and work for Norman Trumpett. Lehman has never had a written contract with the couple, and Trumpett has been intriguing them with stories of casual working conditions in Hollywood. During the show's intermission, Ernest sends Gwen a love note, something he has done during every performance, and suggests that they meet after the show in their "special place." Gwen excitedly prepares for their romantic rendezvous, but when Felix plays on their sympathies by saying that he has planned a huge anniversary party for them, they go to the party, then discover that the party is the setting for a radio broadcast. By the time Gwen and Ernest reach home and have to hear additional demands by their families, they are fed up and decide to take Trumpett up on his offer. The next day, while each goes shopping for travel clothes, Leon Kronk, Felix's librettist, comes up with an idea to split the couple and make Hollywood not want them. Leo inserts lines from Ernest's love letters, which he found in Gwen's dressing room, and reads them to Gwen as part of his new play. He then tells Gwen that he has gotten the words from a married man who is in love with another woman. Gwen at first thinks there must be a mistake, but when she sees Ernest secretly slip a note under the bedroom door of Kay Jordan, her secretary, she is convinced of their affair, not knowing that Ernest is merely giving Kay an inscription for an engraved gift for Gwen. Gwen will not listen to reason about Ernest and the two split up. Neither goes to Hollywood; instead, each takes a separate company of Sweethearts on tour. Though they do not call or write, each keeps track of the other by reading stories in Variety . After months of being miserable separated from Ernest, Gwen finally realizes that she has been wrong when Leo's play open on Broadway. Gwen reads the plot in a terrible review in Variety and discovers that Leo has incorporated his trick on her and Ernest into the story. At almost the same moment, Ernest calls her to tell her what a fool he has been and the two decide to reconcile. Back in New York, Gwen and Ernest confront Felix, but find that he still can appeal to their sympathies. Finally, they open in another Broadway revival of Sweethearts , aided by the faithful Kay.

Cast

Jeanette Macdonald

Gwen Marlowe

Nelson Eddy

Ernest Lane

Frank Morgan

Felix Lehman

Ray Bolger

Hans

Florence Rice

Kay Jordan

Mischa Auer

Leo Kronk

Herman Bing

Oscar Engel

George Barbier

Benjamin Silver

Reginald Gardiner

Norman Trumpett

Fay Holden

Hannah

Allyn Joslyn

"Dink"

Lucile Watson

Mrs. Marlowe

Gene Lockhart

Augustus [Marlowe]

Kathleen Lockhart

Aunt Amelia [Marlowe]

Berton Churchill

[Uncle] Sheridan [Lane]

Terry Kilburn

Brother [Lane]

Raymond Walburn

Orlando

Douglas Mcphail

Harvey

Betty Jaynes

Una

Olin Howland

Appleby

Dalies Frantz

Concert pianist

Irving Bacon

Assistant director

Jimmy Conlin

Stage hand

James Flavin

Doorman

Hal K. Dawson

Stage manager

Emory Parnell

Fire inspector

Toby Wing

Telephone operator

Mira Mckinney

Telephone operator

Grace Hayle

Telephone operator

Barbara Pepper

Telephone operator

Patsy "babe" Kane

Telephone operator

Philip Loeb

Samuel Silver

Gerald Hamer

Harry

Marvin Jones

Boy

Dorothy Gray

Girl

Maude Turner Gordon

Dowager

Jac George

Violinist

Roger Converse

Usher

Reid Kilpatrick

Radio announcer

Charles Sullivan

Tommy, fighter

Wilson Benge

2nd valet to Ernest

George Ernest

Call boy

Billy Mccullough

Call boy

Lee Phelps

Doorman at St. Regis

Pat Gleason

Reporter

Ralph Malone

Reporter

Jack Gardner

Reporter

Ralph W. Berry

Lawyer twin

Rollin B. Berry

Lawyer twin

Forrester Harvey

Tailor's assistant

Gayne Whitman

Commentator

Margaret Irving

Madame

Dick Rich

Stage hand

Bruce Mitchell

Stage hand

Ralph Sanford

Stage hand

Richard Tucker

Man in lobby

Edwin Stanley

Man in lobby

Edward Earle

Man in lobby

Lulu May Bohrman

Woman in lobby

Dorothy Christy

Woman in lobby

Hal Cooke

Mr. Silver's secretary

Jennifer Gray

Mr. Silver's secretary

Brent Sargent

Man in theater

Suzanne Kaaren

Woman in theater

Fred Santley

Music vendor

James Farley

Carriage starter

Arthur "pop" Byron

Policeman

Don Barclay

Taxi driver

Joe A. Devlin

New York taxi driver

Chester L. Berolund

Dick French

Man in theater

Cyril Ring

Man in theater

William Worthington

Man in theater

Estelle Etterre

Woman in theater

Bess Flowers

Woman in theater

George Cooper

Electrician

Frank Mills

Electrician

Mary Howard

Chorus girl

Joan Barclay

Chorus girl

Sharon Lewis

Chorus girl

Vivian Reid

Chorus girl

Lucille Brown

Chorus girl

Valerie Day

Chorus girl

Ethelreda Leopold

Chorus girl

Lester Dorr

Dance director

Anne Wigton

Saleswoman

Paul Marquardt

Conductor, Marine band

Paul Kerby

Orchestra leader

Ralph Brooks

Extra in radio audience

Brooks Benedict

Extra in radio audience

Film Details

Also Known As
Victor Herbert's Sweethearts
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Adaptation
Release Date
Dec 30, 1938
Premiere Information
New York opening: 22 Dec 1938
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the operetta Sweethearts , book and lyrics by Fred de Gresac, Harry B. Smith and Robert B. Smith, music by Victor Herbert. (New York, 8 Sep 1913).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
12 reels

Award Nominations

Best Score

1938

Best Sound

1938

Articles

Sweethearts


Accomplished color cinematography was rare enough in 1938 that Oliver Marsh and Allen Davey were awarded special Oscars® for their work on the MGM musical Sweethearts, starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. By the following year, with the arrival of Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Drums Along the Mohawk and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, color had come into its own and the awards for Best Cinematography were broken into two categories, Color and Black and White. Marsh and Davey were later nominated for Best Color Cinematography for another Eddy-MacDonald vehicle, Bitter Sweet (1940).

Sweethearts was Eddy and MacDonald's - and MGM's - first all-color movie. The studio had been slow to follow the expensive trend toward color, trying to get by with devices such as "Sepia Platinum," a brown-toned film stock, or inserting color sequences in otherwise black and white films such as MacDonald's The Cat and the Fiddle (1934). Sweethearts broke with the tradition and set the standard for the many Technicolor musicals to come. In dressing MacDonald, costumer Adrian fearlessly threw aside the fashion rule that redheads should wear only browns, greens and blues. To vivid and flattering effect, he put his star in pinks, yellows and fire-engine red.

Of Nelson and Eddy's eight co-starring vehicles, Sweethearts is also the first to be set in contemporary times. Many mistakenly believe the film to be a version of the Victor Herbert operetta of the same name, but it's actually a Dorothy Parker-Alan Campbell confection about a popular singing duo appearing in a long-running Broadway version of Sweethearts. The movies' Singing Sweethearts do, therefore, get a crack at the Herbert songs. But the real plot concerns the couple's attempt to sidestep their stage chores, and assorted hangers-on, by fleeing to Hollywood.

MacDonald, who had established herself as an outstanding player of light comedy in such films as Ernest Lubitsch's Love Me Tonight (1932), signed with MGM for two films in the early 1930s. Among the studio's first ideas: to co-star her with new star Nelson Eddy in a straight adventure story, The Prisoner of Zenda. Meanwhile, a proposed film version of Naughty Marietta was languishing because the studio couldn't find a suitable leading man for MacDonald. When Zenda failed to materialize, it finally dawned on producer Hunt Stromberg that Eddy and MacDonald were the perfect team for period operettas such as Naughty Marietta (1935), which, when released, put the seal of success on the new singing team. Their other hits included Rose Marie (1936), Maytime (1937) and The Girl of the Golden West (1938). Although MGM purchased the rights to both Show Boat and The Vagabond King as costarring vehicles for the pair, the partnership ended before these proposed films were made. Their final film as a team was MGM's I Married an Angel (1942).

Producer: Hunt Stromberg
Director: W. S. Van Dyke
Screenplay: Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Fred De Gresac, Harry B. Smith, Robert B. Smith Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Joseph C. Wright (associate)
Cinematography: Allen M. Davey, Oliver T. Marsh
Costume Design: Adrian
Editing: Robert Kern
Original Music: Herbert Stothart
Non-Original Music: Victor Herbert
Cast: Jeanette MacDonald (Gwen Marlowe), Nelson Eddy (Ernest Lane), Frank Morgan (Felix Lehman), Ray Bolger (Hans), Florence Rice (Kay Jordan), Mischa Auer (Leo Kronk), Herman Bing (Oscar Engel), Reginald Gardiner (Norman Trumpett)
C-115m. Closed captioning.

by Roger Fristoe
Sweethearts

Sweethearts

Accomplished color cinematography was rare enough in 1938 that Oliver Marsh and Allen Davey were awarded special Oscars® for their work on the MGM musical Sweethearts, starring Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. By the following year, with the arrival of Gone With the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Drums Along the Mohawk and The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex, color had come into its own and the awards for Best Cinematography were broken into two categories, Color and Black and White. Marsh and Davey were later nominated for Best Color Cinematography for another Eddy-MacDonald vehicle, Bitter Sweet (1940). Sweethearts was Eddy and MacDonald's - and MGM's - first all-color movie. The studio had been slow to follow the expensive trend toward color, trying to get by with devices such as "Sepia Platinum," a brown-toned film stock, or inserting color sequences in otherwise black and white films such as MacDonald's The Cat and the Fiddle (1934). Sweethearts broke with the tradition and set the standard for the many Technicolor musicals to come. In dressing MacDonald, costumer Adrian fearlessly threw aside the fashion rule that redheads should wear only browns, greens and blues. To vivid and flattering effect, he put his star in pinks, yellows and fire-engine red. Of Nelson and Eddy's eight co-starring vehicles, Sweethearts is also the first to be set in contemporary times. Many mistakenly believe the film to be a version of the Victor Herbert operetta of the same name, but it's actually a Dorothy Parker-Alan Campbell confection about a popular singing duo appearing in a long-running Broadway version of Sweethearts. The movies' Singing Sweethearts do, therefore, get a crack at the Herbert songs. But the real plot concerns the couple's attempt to sidestep their stage chores, and assorted hangers-on, by fleeing to Hollywood. MacDonald, who had established herself as an outstanding player of light comedy in such films as Ernest Lubitsch's Love Me Tonight (1932), signed with MGM for two films in the early 1930s. Among the studio's first ideas: to co-star her with new star Nelson Eddy in a straight adventure story, The Prisoner of Zenda. Meanwhile, a proposed film version of Naughty Marietta was languishing because the studio couldn't find a suitable leading man for MacDonald. When Zenda failed to materialize, it finally dawned on producer Hunt Stromberg that Eddy and MacDonald were the perfect team for period operettas such as Naughty Marietta (1935), which, when released, put the seal of success on the new singing team. Their other hits included Rose Marie (1936), Maytime (1937) and The Girl of the Golden West (1938). Although MGM purchased the rights to both Show Boat and The Vagabond King as costarring vehicles for the pair, the partnership ended before these proposed films were made. Their final film as a team was MGM's I Married an Angel (1942). Producer: Hunt Stromberg Director: W. S. Van Dyke Screenplay: Dorothy Parker, Alan Campbell, Fred De Gresac, Harry B. Smith, Robert B. Smith Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Joseph C. Wright (associate) Cinematography: Allen M. Davey, Oliver T. Marsh Costume Design: Adrian Editing: Robert Kern Original Music: Herbert Stothart Non-Original Music: Victor Herbert Cast: Jeanette MacDonald (Gwen Marlowe), Nelson Eddy (Ernest Lane), Frank Morgan (Felix Lehman), Ray Bolger (Hans), Florence Rice (Kay Jordan), Mischa Auer (Leo Kronk), Herman Bing (Oscar Engel), Reginald Gardiner (Norman Trumpett) C-115m. Closed captioning. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

This is MGM's first feature in full Technicolor.

Notes

The opening credits read: "Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer presents Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy in Victor Herbert's Sweethearts photographed in Technicolor." The film incorporates many musical numbers from Victor Herbert's operetta Sweethearts, but the present-day setting for the main story was original to the screen. A written epilog to the film states: "In our screenplay certain dramatic liberties have been taken with the operetta Sweethearts; we depict the scenes from the operetta as though it was a recent production currently presented by a wholly ficticious producer Felix Lehman and as composed and written by two wholly imaginary persons Oscar Engel and Felix Lehman whereas the stage operetta Sweethearts was actually written and produced on the stage about 1913; Victor Herbert composing the music and Fred de Gresac, Robert B. Smith and Harry B. Smith writing the book and lyrics."
       Sweethearts was M-G-M's first three-strip Technicolor feature film, and the first color film for either Jeanette MacDonald or Nelson Eddy. According to contemporary news items and production charts, filming began on June 17, 1938 in black-and-white. After two days, however, the production was interrupted, all of the black-and-white footage was scrapped and filming began again in Technicolor. Hollywood Reporter news items note that M-G-M decided to make Sweethearts its first Technicolor film because of delays involved in preparations for Northwest Passage, which was originally intended as M-G-M's first Technicolor production. Other news items note that retakes of some earlier scenes, and at least one of the musical numbers, were directed by Robert Z. Leonard beginning in mid-August 1938 when W. S. Van Dyke II was otherwise engaged on preparations for Northwest Passage. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item on July 13, 1938, noted conductor-pianist José Iturbi was to make his acting debut in Sweethearts. He was not in the released film, however, and it is unclear if his role was cut or never filmed. Iturbi, who did not make his screen debut until 1944, appeared in several M-G-M films of the decade. Sweethearts was nominated for two Academy Awards, one for Best Sound and one for Herbert Stothart for Best Score. In addition, Oliver Marsh and Allen Davey won a special Oscar for color cinematography. Reviews pointed out the effectiveness of the color in the picture, especially in capturing the brilliant golden red color of MacDonald's hair. MacDonald and Eddy recreated their roles for a 1946 Screen Guild radio broadcast.