Musical Monday: New Moon (1940)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
New Moon” (1940)– Musical #374

Poster - New Moon (1940)_02

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Robert Z. Leonard, W.S. Van Dyke (uncredited)

Starring:
Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy, Mary Boland, George Zucco, Dick Purcell, Grant Mithcell, Joe Yule, Nat Pendleton (uncredited), Buster Keaton (scenes deleted)

Plot:
Marianne de Beaumanoir (MacDonald) is heading from France to New Orleans. On the same boat as a prisoner is nobleman Duc de Villiers (Eddy), using the name of Charles Henri. Marianne meets him on board, believing that he’s the ship’s captain. He is sold as a servant in New Orleans and becomes the servant of Marianne, and she is angry that he lied to her. Little to their knowledge, Charles’ enemies are sailing to New Orleans from France.

Trivia:
-This is the second film version of “New Moon.” The first was released in 1930 starring Grace Moore, Lawrence Tibbett, Adolphe Menjou and Roland Young.

-W.S. Van Dyke began directing the film but it was taken over by Robert Z. Leonard.

Nelson Eddy and Buster Keaton on the set of "New Moon." Buster Keaton's scenes were deleted.

Nelson Eddy and Buster Keaton on the set of “New Moon.” Buster Keaton’s scenes were cut

-Buster Keaton was originally in the film as comic relief, but his scenes were cut, according to Buster Keaton: Cut to the Chase by Marion Meade

-Based on an operetta that premiered on Broadway in 1928 with music written by Oscar Hammerstein and Sigmund Romberg.

-Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy’s sixth movie together.

Notable Songs:
-“Stouthearted Men” performed by Nelson Eddy
-“Lover, Come Back to Me” performed by Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald
-“Softly, as in a Morning Sunrise” performed by Nelson Eddy
-“Paree (Stranger in Paris)” performed by Jeanette MacDonald

My review:
I enjoy almost all the musicals that team Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald (except for Bitter Sweet), but “New Moon” simply doesn’t have a memorable story line.

Due to the New Orleans setting and the costumes, I have to admit that I get this film confused with “Naughty Marietta” (1935), which also stars Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald. “New Moon” even features a boat of young women going to marry settlers, like in “Naughty Marietta.”

Though I get the story line confused with “Naughty Marietta,” the stand out features of the film are the songs. The most memorable song is Nelson Eddy’s “Stouthearted Men,” which is one of his signature songs.

Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in "New Moon."

Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in “New Moon.”

Confusing plot points maybe because of editing. For example: At one point Nelson Eddy is sweaty and dirty in the gallows and in following scene he’s cleaned up and in the captain’s cabin alone where Jeanette MacDonald mistakes him for the captain. There was no discussion in the previous scene that he was seeking an audience with the captain.

The Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald romance is a lot of push and pull and love and hate up to the end which is predictable and exhausting, but all resolves in the end.

“New Moon” isn’t a bad film or the worst pairing for Eddy and MacDonald. The songs are fabulous, the story line is just so similar to “Naughty Marietta” that it’s forgettable and pales in comparison.

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