Rouben Mamoulian Alexander Bakshy - Essay

Alexander Bakshy

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Dulness] and flatness, I regret to say, are to be found in particularly irritating doses in "Love Me Tonight." Maurice Chevalier, who used to charm us with the roguishness of a young boy and the knowledgeable understanding of a man of the world that made him such a delightful screen lover, is revealed in this latest picture of his as a tired man who is trying his hardest to appear sprightly and irresistible….

Even more disappointing to me, because of the expectations aroused by his earlier work, is Rouben Mamoulian's performance as the director of the picture. In his first picture, "Applause," made when the talkies were still in their infancy, Mr. Mamoulian was daring and original. Above all, he showed a quality of imagination that knew how to bring the unfamiliar and the significant out of the welter of photographic impressions. In "Love Me Tonight," a musical comedy romance with a touch of wilful extravaganza, he either failed to find a subject after his own heart, or failed to discover in himself the power of imagination that would have made its hackneyed story pointed and interesting. Only once, and then merely by repeating himself, does he succeed in striking a note of convincing inventiveness. This is in the opening scene, showing the sleepy Paris awakening to its daily labors in a swelling symphony of miscellaneous noises. In the rest of the picture he either attempts comedy in the style of Lubitsch, without the latter's flair for the bizarre, or follows the treatment of music in "Sous les Toits de Paris" by laborious repetition of the same song by various characters quite regardless of its dramatic relevance to the story. After hearing about a dozen versions of The Son of a Gun Is Nothing But a Tailor, at least one of the spectators was on the point of using a less printable language.

Alexander Bakshy, "Three Premature Births," in The Nation (copyright 1932 The Nation Associates, Inc.), Vol. 135, No. 3506, September 14, 1932, p. 240.