DENNIS SCHWARTZ Movie Reviews

THE CAT AND THE FIDDLE (director: William K. Howard; screenwriters: Bella & Sam Spewack/from the play by Jerome Kern & Otto Harbach; cinematographer: Harold Rosson/Charles Clarke; editor:  Frank Hull; music:  Herbert Stothart; cast: Ramon Novarro (Victor Florescu), Jeanette MacDonald (Shirley Sheridan), Frank Morgan (Daudet), Jean Hersholt (Professoor Bertier), Charles Butterworth (Charles, harp player), Henry Armetta (Taxi driver), Vivienne Segal (Odette), Joseph Cawthorn (Rudy), Frank Conroy (Theater Owner), Sterling Holloway (Flower boy); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Bernard H. Hyman; Warner Archive; 1934)

"Only the music is solid."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Breezy musical comedy flatly directed by William K. Howard ("Fire Over England"/"Valiant"/"Johnny Come Lately"). Only the music is solid, with such songs as The Night Was Made for Love, Try to Forget, One Moment Alone, I Watch the Love Parade, A New Love Is Old and She Didn't Say Yes. It's based on the hit Broadway musical by Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach and is written by Bella & Sam Spewack. It received passable reviews, but had a disappointing box office.

In Brussels, the American Shirley (Jeanette MacDonald) is a feisty wise-cracking music student and Victor (Ramon Novarro) is a struggling composer. They meet in a cab, as the penniless composer is running away from paying a cafe owner for his wine. Victor becomes obsessed with Shirley and fawns over her while she humiliates him as a loser and rejects his offer to rent a flat near him. The persistent romantic promises to pay the taxi driver to gain favor with her and then has to make a deal with the cabbie to pay his part of the bargain by surrendering his musical composition. 

Shirley studies at the Conservatory under Professor Bertier (Jean Hersholt). Daudet (Frank Morgan) is a patron of the arts, who the professor invites to the auditions of Victor and Shirley. Because he's attracted to Shirley, Daudet offers to have her song published. But she rejects the patron and moves with Victor to Paris, where they live together. But Daudet anyway publishes her song The Night Was Made for Love and it becomes a sensation. Meanwhile Victor still struggles and lover boy Victor must flirt with the vain opera singer Odette (Vivienne Segal) to get his musical on stage. The confused Victor bolts for Brussels to put on the show, which is financially backed by Odette's hubby Rudy (Joseph Cawthorn). At the last minute Shirley returns to Brussels to save his show. That sequence is in color.

Charles Butterworth provides the comic relief, as the eccentric harp player who gives Victor the coin to buy back his composition from the cabbie.

REVIEWED ON 8/8/2013       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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