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"SPRINGTIME, LOVETIME, MAY"
on February 8, 2001
So ends the haunting refrain of Sigmund Romberg's lovely "Will You Remember?"--the signature song of his wartime hit "Maytime." Otherwise known as the Sweetheart song ("Sweetheart, sweetheart, sweetheart..."), this song of songs is the recuring theme of this 1937 MGM musical masterpiece.
The screens own singing sweethearts, Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy were at the peak of their vocal powers and this opulent film was their crowning victory. Miss MacDonald claimed this as her own personal favorite.
Marcia (Jeanette), an American opera singer in Paris, and Paul (Nelson), an American voice student, fall hopelessly in love in a chance meeting followed by an enchanting outing at the Maytime festival. Unfortunately it is too late, for she has just accepted the proposal of her egocentric voice teacher, Nicolai, (marvelously played by John Barrymore). Separated for years, the sweethearts are finally reunited as Paul now has an international career of his own. They are paired for "Czaritza", an original MGM confection skillfully using Tchaikovsky's infectious Fifth Symphony", but Nicolai's jealousy ultimately leads to tragedy.
As the film opened with the aging Marcia Mornay reflecting back on her illustrious career and upon her unfulfilled love for Paul, so does it end. Life slips peacefully from her frail body as her spirit is once again united with her lifelong love, who had gone before her, and the two of them stroll longingly down their celestial lane as apple blossoms fall blushingly to the ground. This is one of the most poignant scenes in cinematic history. The music is glorious--almost beyond description. The costumes and sets are lavish in style and detail. "Will you remember?" Indeed you will! This is a joyous reminder of the nostalgia and happiness we feel each year in "Springtime, Lovetime, May."