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on May 19, 2000
Probably the most popular of all MacDonald - Eddy musicals, this is a good example of a grade A MGM picture from the mid-thirties. Mind you, the picture is rather drawn out and the framing story is more than a little artificial while the score is enough to rot one's brain - but audiences in 1937 relished this movie. Based upon a popular 1917 Broadway play, this lushly romantic musical turns gradually into melodrama as opera star Jeanette falls in love with a penniless singer while her jealous impresario shoots him. This opulent production was a hit when first released partly for the fact that it contained a superior collection of classic songs as well as popular ones (the big hit being "Will You Remember?") The atmosphere of thwarted passion is compelling and Barrymore excels in his playing of Nicolai Nazaroff (his acting has a bitter edge to it). Rafaela Ottiano scores as Ellen. Eddy is his usual wooden self, but the haunting finale has the two lovers reunited, and, if that's your cup of tea, it could scarcely be better done!
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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."
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on December 6, 2001
"Maytime" is the only film of the MacDonald/Eddy series that is conservatively paced with a well-defined beginning, clarifying middle and unpredictable end. I especially appreciate director Leonard's camera honesty portraying Marcia (Jeanette) as an older woman in later life with gentle wrinkles masterfully applied.... No 25-year-old baby face wearing a white wig, Jeanette (Marcia) proudly displays aging with a natural grace. This is a woman magnificent at any age, her inner beauty shining throughout, primarily a credit to Jeanette. Flashbacks sweep us
back decades to Napolean's Paris and Marcia's young adulthood as
a student vocalist. Her voice teacher Nicolai, (John Barrymore)
is in desperate love with her and seeks her hand in marriage.
She accepts, seeing the marriage as a convenience with few obstacles. Shortly thereafter, however, Marcia meets the true love of her life, Paul (Nelson Eddy), a struggling voice student at Maytime festival. They quickly fall in love but true to
herself, Marcia's promise to marry Nicolai prevails. Paul and Marcia part painfully to the strings of "Will You Remember?" When their paths cross again years later, the challenge to
Nicolai - who has always known his young wife's love for Paul - is too strong to handle. In reliable Barrymore form, Nickolai silently takes the matter into his own hands with desperate results. "Maytime" is gentle, sweet..and sad. It is easily digested but lacks the energy we see in "Rose Marie", "Naughty Marietta" or "Sweethearts". Nonetheless, the simplicity of "Maytime" and its characters is a pleasant hiatus. When done
with understated quality, less can indeed be more.
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on September 19, 2002
My grandmother took me to the Bristol Theatre when i was just a kid for a revival of all these great Jeanette & Nelson films. (in the 50's) I loved them all but "Maytime" was my favorite. I remember feeling really sad and being perplexed with my grandmother crying at the end of the movie. I thought it was sad too but,,,,,. Then years later after my grandmother passed away i saw it again and saw what she saw in this film. It was pure beauty, love, romance, tragidy and reunion of the spirit. I have this film now and each time i watch it i think of that special time with my grandmother. This film will always have that meaning for me and the song "Sweethearts" has always been my favorite song. This might sound mushy to some people but i'm glad i have those wonderful memories of my grandmother thanks to this wonderful film. Just one small piece of advise. Have the tissues ready at the end.
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on July 3, 2000
I have always loved Jeanette Macdonald and Nelson Eddy movies. My mother introduced them to me when I was very young, and now that I'm 17 years old, I think I watch them more than she does! A few weeks ago, I noticed that we had a movie on the shelf called "Maytime," starring my favorite couple. I had never heard of it or noticed that we owned it. Well, I must say that it was mean of my mother not to bring this movie to my attention long ago! I watched the movie and was amazed by every aspect of it - the costumes, the setting, the plot, the acting, and of course - being a singer myself - the music. The main song, "Will You Remember," is fabulous. Its message is beautiful. I encourage everyone - Jeanette and Nelson fans or not - to watch this movie. You'll probabably end up watching it over and over, just as I did =).
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on July 8, 1999
I've always loved musicals but MAYTIME never fails to amaze me. It's still the greatest. Each time I watch this, I marvel at something new. The music is dynamic, the costumes by MGM's famed costumer, Adrian, are out of this world, the acting, the elaborate musical productions--endless praise. One wonders, too, at the obvious pre-production work that went into this masterwork. The opera settings, the authenticity of the massive costumes of Ms. McDonalds, the pre-recordings of the cast, especially the elaborate Russian choir in the best of the sequences, Czarizta. This is an extraordinary to come out of the tap-dancing, pop=musical thirties. Only MGM could have created this masterpiece. A delight from first frame to the last. Jeanette was never more beautiful. Watch it, study it and grieve that this era is indeed gone with the wind.
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on December 30, 2002
Certainly the most splendid of MGM's 30's musical fests. Jeanette looks a treat - watch John Barrymore telling her, "....silly young men only fill the gallery!" - "Yes, Nikolai!" as Jeanette stares (shortsightedly - she photographed better without her glasses!) directly into the camera. The film was originally going to be MGM's first in 3-strip Technicolor (Jeanette had to wait until December 1938 for that "Sweethearts" treat)but when producer Thalberg died in September 1936 all existing footage was scrapped and the film was reshot. The opera sequences are poorly chosen and badly formatted, but the film is unsurpassable; it will remain in your memory forever. It was Jeanette's favourite movie, and it shows. It was also MGM's biggest moneymaker of 1937 (just look at the competition that year and you'll see how good that made it).
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on April 10, 2001
This was an excellent story of love, romance and misdirected loyalty. A couple meet by chance, fall in love, but loyalty to her voice teacher over rides the true love she has found. she weds her possessive tutor but love never develops between them, but she remains loyal to him. after seven successful years of tour on the European opera scene they return to America. Her husband-manager unknowingly reunites her with her old love whom she has never forgotten. The theme song "Will you remember" hauntingly surfaces through the years when her thoughts recall her lost love. Some viewers say they thought the ending sad but I say beautiful and well done. I have viewed this movie countless times and could never forget the tender loving story of unrequited love it tells. You will never forget the ending.
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on May 17, 2001
Maytime is the best movie this duo ever made. Unlike some other movies of theirs together this one isn't cheesy. The plot line is great, the romance is beautiful, the acting fantastic, and the music gorgeous! Plus it's a great tear-jerker. Watching the love bloom between Marcia (Mac) and Paul (Eddy) is as entertaining and romantic as ever. John Barrymore does a superb job as Marcias obsessed voice teacher. He definately makes you hate him. And no matter what anyone says the ending makes the whole movie! It wouldn't be Maytime without it. And even if you don't like the ending, the movie is worth watching just to see Nelson Eddy sing "Ham and Eggs" or the Prima Donna song. It's such a shame that Hollywood doesn't make good movies like this anymore.
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on June 15, 1999
Yes, I'm a sucker for the MacDonald/Eddy musicals & this is their best. "Maytime" weds opera & cinema like never before & never since (too bad the wedding didn't last). Not only is the Page's scene from "les Huguenots" incorporated, but also a long opera scene from "Czaritsa" [composed specifically for this film] is included. This is pretty high-brow stuff, especially for its day! Jeanette MacDonald looks gorgeous as ever & sings magnificiently. Nelson Eddy wears too much makeup as usual but..what a voice! For a film historian this movie is indispensible. Otherwise, , these movies aren't for everyone's tastes but if you have a sweet tooth like me, then indulge!
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