- by ZoŽ Shaw
Gerald falls in love
with temperamental Opera star, Lisa. Married life turns out not to be so
glorious, so Gerald returns to the States while his wife is on tour in
Europe. Lisa learns of Gerald's intentions to divorce her, and returns to the
States too. She wins him back from his new love, Flora.
- by Debbie
Enter Madame! Appropriately carries an exclamation point in
its title. Each and every time we meet Madame Lisa (pronounced Leeza) Della
prima donna, the audience is bombarded with the noise and activity of her entourage. Her
doctor, Doc; her manager, Mr. Farnum; her lady-in-waiting, Bice; her cook,
dog, Toto; her parrot; and her husband, Gerald Fitzgerald. The most pronounced
characteristic of this movie is the noise. It is a very noisy movie.
In Pretty Woman, Richard Gere explains to Julia
Roberts that some people may come to appreciate the opera, but never to truly love it.
Wealthy New Yorker, Gerald Fitzgerald, truly loves the opera, and most
particularly, any opera in which Madame Della Robbia sings, and he is always seated in the
first box on the left.
During a performance, an accidental fire onstage prompts
Gerald to jump from his box to Lisas rescue. The fire onstage may have been snuffed
out, but a new one is ignited when the two meet. Soon they are married.
Gerald is warned by Mr. Farnum, Lisas manager, that
marriage to a famous opera star will soon become tedious for Gerald. But, so much in love,
Gerald swears his life and allegiance to Lisas career, while Lisa swears that
shed give up her career if it ever became wearisome for Gerald.
Their honeymoon trip is her tour of Europe. Bright eyed and
full of love at its onset, Gerald soon tires of walking Madames dog, and of being
Mr. Della Robbia. When Madames European tour ends, it is his brides turn to
follow Gerald to America for one year where she will be the dutiful wife. However, Lisa
accepts a tour of Scandinavia instead, and sends Gerald off to New York alone. While
onboard the ship bound for America, Gerald meets an old flame, Flora, who is more than
eager to rekindle a former spark.
Over a year passes as Madame Della Robbia accepts one tour
after another informing Gerald with one telegram after another. Flora, in New York with
Gerald all this time, has convinced him that the life he wants is one with peaceful
serenity, a complacent wife and feet firmly planted on American soil. Gerald files for
Lisa rushes to New York to undo the damage her neglect has
caused. When emotional pleas dont work, she uses the one weapon she knows Gerald is
most vulnerable to: her music and her voice.
Lisa invites both Flora and Gerald to a last opera before
they part forever, with dinner at her place afterward. At the opera, she sings a love song
straight into Geralds heart, much to Floras displeasure. Afterward, Gerald is
quite at home amidst the hustle and bustle of Madames entourage, although Flora is
shocked and infuriated. During dinner, Madames doctor reminisces about his attempted
retirement and subsequent return to Madame. He muses, the music was in my blood;
more than the rheumatism. I suffered more from the memories, they would stab my heart
every day. Geralds face registers this same emotion. We know then that Flora
is history and that Madame has only to bide her time.
After a few well-placed insults from Flora, Gerald hastily
pushes Flora out of the front door and Lisa into the bedroom. The movie ends with Gerald
again following Madame to her next tour, but with new ground rules: He mustnt be
part of her entourage, he must be her husband.
A working knowledge of Italian would have made this a much
more enjoyable movie. Also, I came to the conclusion early in this movie that I was one
who would never come to even appreciate opera, let alone love it!
Film Review - January 15, 1935
- by "Chic"
- submitted by Barry Martin
Apparently a story that will not draw large grosses in most
spots, but none-the-less a brisk story, well adapted, with good
dialog, good acting and intelligent direction. It screens as
more or less of a follow-up on 'One Night of Love,' but it may not
appeal to the lesser patronage not interested in the stage as a
subject. Should pick up on run dates from word of mouth, but
question is can Miss Landi command the name followers? This
should help her make claim to that position. Play might have
been written for her. Gilda Varesi, who was part author, did
the stage version, but Miss Landi makes the part her own and
The story is simple, the American
who marries a temperamental opera singer, gets tired of trailing
her around, goes back to America in the hope she will
follow. She cannot resist enticing offers. He obtains
a divorce, but before the decree is perfected she wins him away
from the woman who sought to marry him before the opera singer got
her chance. Not much to the story, but it is well written,
with brisk dialog which is expertly read by the cast
members. The direction gives the final touch, for it strikes
exactly the note sounded by the authors and builds up the full
possibilities of every situation without growing to farcical.
Elliott Nugent rates a bow on this one.
Miss Landi is, of course, the
center of things, but there are enough others generally on the
stage with her to prevent it being a one-part play. Her
entourage of maid, chef, physician and manager all provide sound
comedy. But it is one of Miss Landi's few real chances since
she went into pictures. She is vivacious, temperamental,
tender, raging and pleading by turn. Her facial play is
remarkably good, but she never muggs. Cary Grant is in
character as the husband and Lynne Overman contributes a brilliant
performance as the manager, with Frank Albertson not far behind as
the singer's half brother. Sharon Lynne and Cecelia Parker
are rather in the shade, but Michelette Burani, Paul Porcasi and
Adrian Rosley provide an almost constant flow of comedy.
Miss Landi is supposed to sing an
aria from 'Tosca' in a bit from 'Cavalleria.' Another voice
is used and while her lips follow the words the synchronizing has
been poorly done. The 'Cavalleria' is gorgeously staged and
the outstanding big spectacle moment. But for comedy there
has seldom been better work than the final scenes, which move
rapidly and surely to a briefly romantic close. It is one of
the few plays which build up to the finish instead of losing out
to falling action. It stops on the highlight. It might
be germane to mention that story, dialog and action are all alike;
clean and competent. The League of Decency may object to the
divorce angle, but no good reason why it should.
NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - January
- by Frank S. Nugent
- submitted by Barry Martin
The operatic cycle, set in motion by the extraordinary success
of Grace Moore's "One Night of Love," continues its lyric progress
in "Enter Madame," the new film at the RKO Palace. This latest
attempt to merge the cinema with the opera is developed along farce lines.
The effort, while fairly entertaining, finds its players more animated than
Elissa Landi, handsomely gowned and
possessed of an accent and a temperament, appears as Lisa della
Robbia, toast of opera lovers. Cary Grant is cast as Gerald
Fitzgerald, the smitten admirer who marries the prima donna and
soon finds himself merely a part of her retinue and custodian of
the Pekingese, Toto. Preferring divorce to dishonor, he sets the
legal wheels in motion and even has his eyes upon Mrs. Fitzgerald,
the second, when the singer relents, upsets her rival's wedding
plans and promises to reform. The ending is contrived to leave the
beholder with the notion that Mr. Fitzgerald may soon be back in
the marital dog-house.
Although the theme is not exactly
novel and its execution much short of brilliant, it has the
advantages of a swift pace, general good-humor and the presence of
a hard-working cast. Elliot Nugent's direction may be criticized
chiefly for the film's sudden fall from romantic comedy into the
frothiest of farce climaxes. From grand opera to such business as
crawling under tables and riding in dumbwaiters is too great a
stride to be taken, as the film takes it, in one swift step.
On the musical side of the
picture's ledger are Miss Landi's (actually the voice is Nina
Koshetz's) and Richard Bonelli's rendition of arias from "La
Tosca," "Cavalleria Rusticana" and "Il
Trovatore," and a quartet, including Mr. Grant, singing the
Anvil Chorus from "Il Trovatore." The Los Angeles Opera
Chorus joins in the choral accompaniment. These may be listed as
definite assets, but should not be overemphasized. "Enter
Madame" is still just a farce with music.
- by Kathy Fox
ENTER MADAM is Cary
Grant's 18th film and his only one with Elissa Landi and directed by Elliott
Nugent. This film was released on January 4, 1935, about thirteen
weeks before Grant's divorce from his first wife, Virginia Cherrill.
They were married on February 9 or 10, 1934, at Caxton Hall Registry in
Westminster. This film was originally to have starred Jeannette
MacDonald as Lisa Della Robbia, and when she bowed out of the picture,
Elissa Landi was gotten; however her voice was dubbed by Nina Koshetz.
Grant plays Gerald Fitzgerald and Landi plays Lisa Della Robbia, a temperamental
opera singer. They fall in love and are married, but Della Robbia is
so involved with her career that she lets her marriage slide and Fitzgerald
takes a boat back to America to await the end of her tour, which keeps
getting longer. He finally gets fed up and sends Lisa a telegram
stating that he plans to get a divorce and marry Flora Preston.
However, Lisa is still in love with Gerald and unwilling to give him up,
surprises him when she comes to his New York apartment to win her husband
back, "Enter Madam." They finally rekindle their love for
one another and escape the press through the dumbwaiter, "Exit
Madam." This is another of Cary's cute little early films.
This was Landi's film, and Grant did not have much to do but look good in
his tuxedo, which he does very well.
<< Back to Reviews | Top of Page