Cast & Crew
Ivy St. Helier
In a very elegant home in 1933, a young couple quarrel at a party. Dolly, though engaged to the wealthy Henry, loves Vincent, a poor jazz piano player performing at the party that night. The two lovers go out on the balcony, where Vincent takes Dolly into his arms, only to be discovered by a dignified old woman. The old woman tells Dolly that she must decide between the two men, then tells her own, similar story: Fifty years earlier, Sarah Millick was engaged to marry wealthy Hugh Devon, only to elope with poor musician Carl Linden. The couple travels to Carl's native Vienna, where they find little work. They attempt to perform as street musicians, and though they have little money for food or rent, love keeps them happy. Just as they run out of money completely, Carl meets his old girl friend, Manon La Creuette. Manon is the star of a cabaret show at Herr Schlick's cafe, and she convinces the owner to hire Carl. He soon becomes the orchestra leader, and even Sarah is engaged as a dancer. Their newfound happiness is disrupted when Captain Auguste von Lutte returns to Vienna and takes an immediate interest in Sarah. She snubs the captain's lustful advances, despite her fear of his power. She goes to Carl with this problem, but her husband laughs it off, advising Sarah that the time to worry will be when men no longer find her attractive. He also tells her that he will watch over her and protect her from any harm should von Lutte try anything. Sarah feels comfort from Carl's words until Manon informs her that von Lutte has demanded Sarah as his dinner partner in a private room. That night, when Carl sees Sarah stop dancing and run away from von Lutte, he intercedes between his wife and the captain. Carl then apologizes to Sarah, now knowing that her fears were well founded, and agrees that the couple will leave the cafe that very night. Von Lutte complains to Schlick about Sarah, and the cafe owner orders her to dance for the captain. She refuses, stating that she and Carl are resigning immediately. Schlick tells her if she does not dance for von Lutte, he will not pay them their past wages. Sarah reluctantly agrees, and in the middle of her dance, von Lutte kisses her. Carl stops the orchestra, leaps from the balcony, and slaps von Lutte across the face twice. Von Lutte is unable to draw his weapon, as Carl is an unarmed man, but the musician makes the fatal mistake of grabbing a sword from an officer standing nearby, and thrusting it at von Lutte. The two men duel, but Carl is little match for the officer. In the end, Carl dies in Sarah's arms. Despite the death of her husband, Sarah has no regrets, as her love for him has never died and the memory of him has followed her throughout her life. Upon hearing Sarah's story, Dolly, too, decides to forsake riches for love, and be with Vincent. As the couple embraces, Sarah sings to them the words Carl had once written for her, "I shall love you till I die, goodbye."
Ivy St. Helier
According to press materials, Anna Neagle was selected for the part of Sarah over such notable actresses as Jeanette MacDonald, Evelyn Laye (who originated the role on both the London and New York stages), and Lilian Harvey. Press materials also indicate that actor Stuart Robertson and actress Ivy St. Helier, who played the role of Manon in the New York production as well, made their feature film debuts in this picture. The operetta was filmed again in 1940 by M-G-M, starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, with W. S. Van Dyke II directing.