Musical numbers
  • That's the Song of Paree
  • Isn't It Romantic?
  • Lover
  • Mimi
  • A Woman Needs Something Like That
  • The Poor Apache
  • Love Me Tonight
  • The Son of a Gun Is Nothing But a Tailor
  • The Man For Me (Dropped before the film was released)
  • Give Me Just A Moment (Deleted from the screenplay before the film was completed)
Lyrics by Lorenz Hart
Music by Richard Rodgers
Produced by Rouben Mamoulian for Paramount Picture
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian
Starring: Maurice Chevalier, Jeanette MacDonald,Charles Ruggles and Myrna Loy
Screenplay by Samuel Hoffenstein, George Marion Jr. and Waldemar Young


Director Rouben Mamoulian opens the film as he did his 1927 stage production of Dubose Heyward's Porgy: The city awakens to an escalating symphony of natural sounds that culminate in music. Maurice Courtelin (Maurice Chevalier) rises and sings his way to his Parisian tailor shop where he changes his workman's clothes for an elegant cutaway. He's so pleased with a wedding suit he's made for his friend, Emile (Bert Roach), that he sings "Isn't It Romantic" In classic Paramount fashion, the song is then taken up in turn by Emile, a cab driver, a passenger, an army on maneuvers in the countryside, a gypsy violinist, and finally, far off in her castle, the Princess Jeanette (Jeanette) - a tour de force sequence.


Back in Paris, tailor Maurice is content. His reputation has been made by an aristocratic customer, the Vicomte de Vareze (Charlie Ruggles), who has ordered many suits. However, a representative from the credit bureau arrives to pop his bubble: "The Vicomte never pays."

Fellow clothiers have also extended the Vicomte credit, so Maurice is appointed their representative. He departs for the Vicomte's country château in high dudgeon and a borrowed Rolls Royce, determined to collect what is due.

The Vicomte, terrified of the wrath of his curmudgeonly uncle (C. Aubrey Smith), introduces Maurice as "Baron Courtelin." This allows the humble tailor to stay and woo the beautiful but remote Princess Jeanette, while trying to avoid the amorous Valentine (Myrna Loy). In a scene cut from the television prints of the 1960's, we learn that Jeanette is a widow who frequently faints. The doctor prescribes marriage. But the only men in Europe of comparable rank are 11 and 70. The doctor offers the only possible substitute prescription: "Exercise."


Maurice's presence is a breath of fresh air for the stuffy castle, and everyone comes to life, including Jeanette, but when his real identity is learned, he is tossed out. Jeanette decides that she'd rather live as a tailor's wife than suffocate in aristocratic isolation, so she leaps on her horse and gallops after Maurice's train in a thrilling finale.

Eleanor Knowles Dugan

LOVE ME TONIGHT is the enchanting tale of an amorous tailor (Maurice Chevalier) who woos a lovelorn princess (Jeanette MacDonald). The young director Rouben Mamoulian worked closely with songwriters Rodgers and Hart, who were known for their clever and risqué lyrics. With its naughty jokes and double entendres, sex and seduction (a favored Mamoulian theme) is the focus of the film. When the film was re-released in 1949, the Production Code Administration forced Paramount to remove some suggestive dialogue and lyrics; unfortunately, none of the excised scenes are known to have survived. LOVE ME TONIGHT is Mamoulian's masterpiece, a magical film that unfolds like a beautifully choreographed dance.

Most reviewers were disappointed that Lubitsch was not at the helm of Love Me Tonight. "A strange alliance," said Mildred Martin of the Philadelphia Inquirer. She found Mamoulian "merely an unoriginal and uninspired substitute"!

Mordaunt Hall of the New York Times was a voice for the minority when he said that Mamoulian "gives to his scenes a charming poetic suggestion," although Hall too felt that "he may not reveal Lubitsch's satire and keen wit or René Clair's clever irony." It would take a number of years before Love Me Tonight (and Mamoulian's earlier Applause would get the reappraisal they deserved.

Eleanor Knowles Dugan

If you asked "noted authorities," critics, film writers, and just plain musical nuts to agree on the ultimate musical, Love Me Tonight will top nearly every list. They might prefer a Judy Garland vehicle, adore a Busby Berkeley spectacular, sway to memories of Fred and Ginger, or become misty-eyed over a MacDonald-Eddy operetta, but it is Love Me Tonight that all musicals are measured to and from, like some kind of international film musical dateline. Unlike every other film hit, Love Me Tonight has no imitators because, well, it is inimitable.

Stage director Ruben Mamoulian had created a classic with his first film, Applause, 1929, with Helen Morgan. He had done only two films since, City Streets and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, both in 1931. The latter won an Oscar for Fredric March. Over the years, Mamoulian's stage successes included both Porgy (the drama) and Porgy and Bess (the Gershwin opera), Marco Millions, Oklahoma! and Carousel.

Love Me Tonight offers a top-notch cast and a superb original score by Rodgers and Hart, each song advancing the story line. It represents the fusion of centuries of stage artistry and artifice with the unique infant, film. Like nearly every classic, its whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The characters are actually caricatures, two-dimensional representations of the stock stage personalities of operetta, yet the human qualities they mirror are so strong that we must identify with each of them.

The princess in the tower is a pathetic remnant of aristocracy, doomed never to marry because there is no one left who is her social equal. (Compare this to the situation of predominantly female European royal houses after World War I, who could find no princes for their eligible daughters.) The commoner is a hard-working tailor, poor because the aristocracy cannot pay its bills (social unrest, Bolshevism, unionism - all forces of the 1930s). The three witches or fairy godmothers of legend are the maiden aunties in the tower, providing a Greek chorus of comment and response to the action. Add to this the irascible uncle, the booby suitor, the playboy comedian, and the nymphomaniac comedienne, all stock characters. All these elements were brought together under the direction of a man with the strength of steel and the lightness of a flower, and called Love Me Tonight.

Eleanor Knowles Dugan

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