TV title: Indian Love Call (an attempt to avoid confusion with the 1954 remake).
Based on Arthur Hammerstein’s production of the operetta Rose-Marie by Rudolf Friml, Otto A. Harbach, and Oscar Hammerstein II. Screenplay: Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, and Alice Duer Miller. Music Director: Herbert Stothart. Camera: William Daniels. Editor: Blanche Sewell. Totem dance staged by Chester Hale. Operatic sequences staged by William von Wymetal. Sound: Douglas Shearer. Art Director: Cedric Gibbons. Art Director’s Associates: Joseph Wright and Edwin B. Willis. Gowns: Adrian. Assistant Director: Joseph Newman. Roméo et Juliette dance staged by Michael Val Raset. Technical Advisor: William Brennan. Vocal Coach: Paul Lamkoff. Montages: Slavko Vorkapich.
The stage Rose-Marie (with a hyphen) opened on September 2, 1924 at the Imperial Theatre, starring Dennis King and Mary Ellis, with Arthur Deagon as the Mountie, Sgt. Malone. It ran 557 performances.
MGM made Rose-Marie as a silent in 1928, now feared lost. Filming, directed by Lucien Hubbard, began with Renée Adorée in the title rôle, but she was replaced by Joan Crawford, who starred with James Murray as Kenyon and House Peters as the Mountie. Our 1936 version dropped the hyphen and discarded the stage plot. MGM made a third, also hyphen-less version in Cinemascope and Technicolor in 1954, with Ann Blyth, Howard Keel, Fernando Lamas, Marjorie Main, and Bert Lahr, directed by Mervyn LeRoy. It used much of the stage plot.
Jeanette MacDonald (Marie de Flor)
Nelson Eddy (Sergeant Bruce)
Reginald Owen (Myerson)
Allan Jones (Roméo, also Mario Cavaradossi)
James Stewart (John “Jack” Flower)
Alan Mowbray (Premier)
George Regas (Boniface)
Robert Greig (Café Manager)
Una O’Connor (Roderick, Marie’s maid)
Lucien Littlefield (Storekeeper)
David Nivens [later “Niven”] (Teddy, a suitor)
Herman Bing (Mr. Danielle)
James Conlin (Joe, the piano player)
Dorothy Gray (Edith)
Mary Anita Loos (Corn Queen)
Aileen Carlyle (Susan)
Halliwell Hobbes (Mr. Gordon, opera manager)
Paul Porcasi (Emil, the chef)
Gilda Gray (Belle)
Bert Lindley (Pop)
Edgar Dearing (Motorcycle policeman)
Pat West (Traveling salesman)
Charles Bruin (Man shaving in his BVD’s)
Milton Owen (Stage manager)
David Clyde (Doorman)
Russell Hicks (Commandant)
Rolfe Sedan, Louis Mercier (Admirers in hall)
Jack Pennick (Brawler)
Leonard Carey (Louis)
David Robel, Rinaldo Alacorn, Joseph Chorrie, Bill Cody, Iron Eyes Cody (Dancers)
Matty Roubert (Newsboy)
Major Sam Harris (Guest)
Ernie Alexander (Elevator operator)
James Mason [American silent film villain, not British star] (Trapper)
John George, Lee Phelps (Barflies)
Fred Graham (Corporal)
Olga Dane (Roméo et Juliette singer)
Agostino Borgato, Adrian Rosley (Opera fans)
Delos Jewkes (Butcher at hotel)
Bits: Duke York, Julie Laird, Linda Parker, James Young, Tony Beard, Alesandro Giglio, Gennaro Maria-Curci, Doris Atkinson, Bill Steele, Margaret Zitt, Edith Holloway, William Stack
Rose Marie was presented on Screen Guild Theatre (radio), 6/29/47, with Jeanette and Nelson.
One of the twenty-five top-grossing films of 1935-1936.
Stand on any street corner with a microphone and ask passersby to name a Jeanette MacDonald-Nelson Eddy musical. Nine out of ten will mention Rose Marie. In most minds this film characterizes operetta and “the team” more than anything else they did together. Any recreation of the “golden age” of film, comic or nostalgic, will inevitably include a singing Mountie and a lavishly gowned soprano.
The director, producer, and most of the writers, designers, and technicians for Rose Marie were the same people who created Naughty Marietta. The cast included a generous sprink-ling of prominent “character actors” from MGM’s well-stocked stable, plus three interesting new faces.
English actor David Nivens didn’t attract much attention as Rose Marie’s rejected suitor. It was his fourth featured rôle in American films, and it would take several more pictures to establish his name as the more familiar “Niven.”
A twenty-eight-year-old American actor fared better in the difficult but touching rôle of Rose Marie’s kid brother. Jimmy Stewart, with only one previous film rôle under his belt, made a tremendous impression and reached “leading man” status within a year.
Young singer Allan Jones, who does two opera sequences with Jeanette, was making his mark so quickly that pictures in which he was featured were being released before films in which he had near walk-ons. Two years later, he would be Jeanette’s leading man in The Firefly and a personal friend off screen. He and his (then) wife, Irene Hervey, often visited with Jeanette and her husband, Gene Raymond.
The 1936 Rose Marie departs drastically from the stage and earlier film-version plots. In the stage and 1928 silent film versions, the Mountie was an incidental character who solves a murder and frees the hero to marry the heroine. Dennis King, Miss MacDonald’s costar in The Vagabond King, was the lead in the stage Rose-Marie. The two sound-film Rose Maries made the Mountie the hero, although the 1954 Howard Keel-Ann Blyth version harked back to the Saskatchewan Hotel setting and used some of the eccentric characters of the stage version.
In our 1936 interpretation, Rose Marie is a singer, but not in a backwoods hotel. She is an opera star, Canadian vintage. The rôle was originally prepared for Grace Moore, but when the film was ready for shooting, she was not available until after Eddy was scheduled to leave on his annual concert tour. Since so much of the film was to be shot on location at Cascade Lake and Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe, during the summer months of 1935, there was no possibility of delay, and the rôle fell to Miss MacDonald. The plot line, the character of the temperamental prima donna, even the choice of opera sequences, were all holdovers from a Moore vehicle. (Miss Moore had sung the rôles of Juliette and Tosca at the Met.)
We first see our heroine on stage as Juliette in Gounod’s opera Roméo et Juliette. An intriguing matte shot permits the stage action to “revolve” while the proscenium and orchestra remain stationary. In a brief montage we meet her handsome Romeo (Allan Jones), hear her sing “Juliet’s Waltz,” and watch the Capulets and Montagues slugging it out, Friar Lawrence marrying the lovers, and their final death scene followed by tumultuous curtain calls. Although not credited on screen, the montage bears the hallmark of Slavko Vorkapich, the noted montagist who contributed to Romeo and Juliet, The Good Earth, and many MacDonald-Eddy films.
On stage, our prima donna, Marie de Flor (Jeanette), is a radiant sunbeam. Backstage she bitches at everyone in sight, in a near duplicate of the opening sequence of Oh, for a Man! Her ardent millionaire suitor, Teddy (David Nivens), who has pursued her from New York, is thrown out of her dressing room. What, she asks her maid Roderick (the Abbey Theatre’s Una O’Connor, best remembered as Frankie’s mother in The Informer), does she need with men when she has her career, money, everything she wants? Everything, Roderick replies, struggling valiantly with a French accent from somewhere west of Cork, everything but love. Men are stupid, silly boys, Marie declares. The only one worth caring about is her brother, Jack, who is in prison.
It becomes obvious that her deep distress is causing her display of temper and temperament. She is even rude to her manager, Myerson (Reginald Owen), until he tells her the Premier has been in the audience and would like her to sing for him privately.
The premier! Perhaps a parole can be arranged. The premier (Alan Mowbray) and his entire family are swept off for dinner at Marie’s hotel suite, much to the horror of her chef (Paul Porcasi), who has only a few minutes to prepare a feast.
Marie fills the gap by singing “Pardon Me, Madame.” The melody is taken up by the hotel guests and staff as it travels over the transom and along phone lines to the switchboard girls, by bellhops, by butchers cheerfully hacking carcasses to the beat, by a man (Charles Bruin) shaving in his undershorts who joins the throng in the hallway, and finally by the crowds in the street below.
The premier is delighted, as well as sympathetic to whatever is obviously troubling the beautiful lady. He will be happy to see her later to discuss her problem.
As they start in to dinner, a mysterious messenger arrives, bearing her brother Jack’s ring. Boniface (George Regas) tells Marie her brother has been wounded escaping from prison and needs help. She starts to call the premier, but Boniface stops her. A pardon will do no good. Jack has killed a Mountie.
Marie half faints with horror, but family loyalty is too strong. She borrows all the cash she can from the unsuspecting Myerson and prepares to follow Boniface into the wilderness.
(Here, a charming scene is deleted from the final release print. Marie, modestly dressed, makes her way unnoticed through the adoring crowd outside the hotel. All are staring up at her window. “We’ve been friends for years,” brags one man to another, looking Marie straight in the eye and not recognizing her. A taxi driver is reluctant to leave the scene to take her to the train station: “She may sing again,” he protests. “I assure you she won’t,” snaps Marie.)
To the ominous pounding strains of “The Mounties,” we see stock footage of uniformed Mounties in training formation—how much better to have implied that they were on Jack’s trail—dissolving into our first glimpse of Sergeant Bruce (Nelson). Leading a squadron for a casual trot, he delivers the famous melody in excellent voice. The effect is somewhat lessened by the fact that his men are on a rear projection screen. Considering that some superb location footage was shot for this film and the songs were prerecorded, it is occasionally irritating to jump back and forth in the same scene between genuine exteriors and studio shots with obvious rear projection.
At Mountie headquarters, Sergeant Bruce learns that his next assignment is to track down the killer of a fellow Mountie. He studies the poster: “John Flower, no known relatives, believed to be hiding near Lake Chibougam.” He assures the Commandant (Russell Hicks) that he won’t fail and rides off to a vigorous reprise of “The Mounties.”
Marie and Boniface have reached the outpost nearest Lake Chibougam. A steady stream of Indians passes on their way to a big festival that night. The town itself is a beehive of activity. The local café is doing a good business in drinks and fights, so Marie decides she isn’t really hungry. She passes on to the general store. There she chooses a wardrobe of boots, pants, and heavy woolen shirts, then finds her purse is missing from her pocketbook. Boniface is also missing.
The storekeeper (silent comedian Lucien Littlefield) urges her to report her loss to the new Mountie on duty. Sergeant Bruce is a crack man, he tells her, sent out after the death of their last constable. He’ll get her money back!
But Marie is understandably reluctant to run into the Sergeant. She dashes off in search of Boniface, and the first thing she sees is a WANTED poster with Jack’s picture. She races on, the music churning in a nightmare sequence punctuated by leering faces and shoving crowds. Imposed over the images is a succession of imaginary newspaper headlines ending with “Flower Hangs.” At last, exhausted and starving, Marie returns to the lights of the café. A woman is singing inside.
Marie seeks out the manager (Robert Greig) and asks him for a job. The only kind of job they have, he explains, is dishwashing. Any singing done in his place is strictly on an amateur basis. He points to the evening’s songbird who is happily collecting the loose change thrown to her. Swallowing her pride, Marie agrees to try.
The piano player (James Conlin) suggests “something hot.” “Could you put it up a key?” she asks. “That’s the only key I know!” She waits pathetically for the crowd to quiet down. When it becomes obvious they have no intention of doing so, she raggedly launches into “Dinah.” The beat is too fast for her, and she hurries along, several notes behind the music. She is mortified, but the piano player encourages her. He pulls another piece of music from the pile and she does better with “Some of These Days,” another revival from the days of “coon songs.” (Sophie Tucker, the famed “coon shouter” of twenty years earlier, had just been signed by MGM and her picture appears prominently on the sheet music covers in Jeanette’s hand.)
Sergeant Bruce enters and is quickly surrounded by admiring females including Belle, Marie’s singing rival. The Sergeant’s attention is diverted by the peculiar songstress trying to be heard over the roar of the café. Belle (stage star Gilda Gray, queen of the “shimmy”) decides to show up this decidedly uncompetitive competitor and delivers her very loud and very physical rendition of the song. Poor Marie is momentarily nonplused, then tries to mimic Belle’s vocal phrasing and gyrations. She is finally eclipsed and flees the café, followed by the Sergeant.
He commiserates with her, telling her that she has a beautiful voice and that Belle was just jealous. “If she ever got lumbago, she couldn’t sing a note.” Marie tries desperately to lose the Sergeant, but he has heard about her robbery. He ushers her into the small cabin that serves as his office. “Name?” he asks. Her battered suitcase belongs to Roderick and bears a prominent R. “Rose,” she blurts out.
“Rose…Marie de Flor,” he murmurs. “I always thought your name was just Marie de Flor.” He recognized her voice the minute he heard her sing. She decides to admit her identity and try a different tack. He must know how it is when one’s every move is watched. She has come up here to meet “someone.” She lowers her eyes suggestively.
The Sergeant is sure they will find Boniface and her money at the Indian festival that night. Crossing the moonlit lake in a canoe, he deplores helping her get to another man. What’s he like? he asks. A big banker? A poet? A polo player? “He’s an Italian tenor,” she tells him sarcastically. “I’m not Italian,” he replies, “but as for the singing…” He serenades her with the lushly romantic “Rose Marie,” ending with a glowing high note.
She compliments him on his composing skill, and he launches into a reprise: “Oh, Caroline, I love you.” “Ah, ah, ah. It was ‘Rose Marie’ a moment ago.” “What did I say?” “‘Caroline.’” It seems he fits each new name to the rhythm, courting nearly every girl in the neighborhood. But it doesn’t work with some names, he tells her. “It didn’t work with Maude—but then nothing worked with Maude.”
They reach the Indian camp where the Sergeant is greeted by many of the revelers. He finds “Rose Marie” a safe perch on a tree branch to view the “Totem Tom-Tom” dance. Choreographed by Chester Hale and staged out of doors, this dance can’t quite decide whether it is a recreation of an Indian dance or strictly Hollywood fantasy, and it loses slightly on both counts. However, it is quite effective, a joyous hymn to the harvest that avoids the sex-and-sadism trademark of Busby Berkeley’s “Totem Tom-Tom” in the 1954 remake.
Rose Marie ignores the romance of the evening and the Sergeant’s inclinations and goes in search of her guide. Suddenly she spots him and he tries to hide. The Sergeant collars the suspicious-looking “half breed,” but Rose Marie carefully denies knowing him. She suggests that she wander alone through the crowd while Sergeant Bruce attends to business. Unknown to her, he is questioning the Indians about John Flower.
She finds Boniface again and demands that he take her to her brother or she will turn him over to the police. He must pick up supplies and meet her at the wharf in an hour. Sergeant Bruce escorts her back to the inn and begs her to wait there a week until he returns from his duties in the mountains. To get rid of him, she agrees.
Quickly she gathers up her things to leave, but then a voice is heard outside the window. It is the Sergeant, serenading her with “Just For You.” It is impossible to get away, so she settles down to enjoy the haunting love song. He finishes and warbles an exultant “Au revoir, Rose Marie…” toppling backwards from his perch on a pile of barrels.
Whistling happily, Sergeant Bruce (we never learn his first name!) returns to Mountie headquarters, where an old friend, “Pop” (Bert Lindley), is waiting to say goodbye in case they never see each other again. Bruce laughs off the premonition, his thoughts on “Rose Marie de Flor.” Pop laughs. “Sounds like some kind of soap,” he comments. “It’s Spanish,” Bruce replies. “Means ‘flower.’ Rose Marie Flower. —Flower!”
Rushing back to the inn, he finds that she is gone. “Anything wrong?” inquires the innkeeper who is also the café owner—a small town indeed. “Couldn’t be better,” Bruce assures him.
Deep in the wilderness, Boniface uses a small map to show Rose Marie where they are headed. His mother is hiding Jack in her cabin, just outside Hayman’s Landing, several days’ journey away. While waiting for Boniface to tend to the horses, Rose Marie discovers the echo from the nearby cliffs. With childish bravado, she joins herself in a round of “Three Blind Mice.” Sergeant Bruce hears her from across the valley and smiles to himself.
Rose Marie and Boniface head on until stopped by a rushing river. She urges crossing it rather than going around. It will save them time, although she has never swum a horse before. Sergeant Bruce reaches the crest of a nearby hill just in time to see Rose Marie swept from her struggling horse. Boniface starts to rescue her, then sees the descending Mountie and flees into the forest. Rose Marie is pulled from the water and revived by the somber Sergeant.
He insists she wear his coat to avoid a chill. Haughtily, she refuses his offer of further assistance and sits down on a rock to await Boniface’s return. Bruce makes camp a few yards away and soon the smell of food is too much for her. It is dark. Her horse and guide are gone. She is lost, alone with Sergeant Bruce. Robbed completely of her pride, she must depend on him for her existence.
She gobbles the offered beans and humbly apologizes for her behavior. Bruce leaves the circle of firelight to check on the horses, and she panics. She rushes after him and into his outstretched arms, but the threatening creature she heard in the underbrush is only a soft-eyed doe.
From across the lake comes a floating call, distant, mysterious, like a strange wild bird. “Just an Indian,” Bruce tells her. “Listen.” From far away comes an answering feminine call.
It is an old Indian legend, he tells her. Years ago two lovers from different tribes met here. Their families were enemies, sort of a Romeo and Juliet affair. They were discovered and sentenced to die, but their spirits still live. When a lover gives the call, their spirits echo it, sending it on until it reaches the one he loves. Rose Marie is moved by the beauty of it. She stands at the edge of the lake and gives the haunting call. Sergeant Bruce takes it up and sings the classic “Indian Love Call.”
It is late. The Sergeant gives Rose Marie his tent and insists she pass her damp clothing out to him to hang by the fire. As she hands him each garment, he searches it carefully, but she has kept the map. The events of the day have not stifled her feminine instincts either. Behind the tent walls, she can be heard delicately tearing a strip from her camisole to make rag curlers for her hair. Bruce nods in amusement. In the stillness of the night, Rose Marie hums the “Indian Love Call.” Beside the campfire, Sergeant Bruce quietly hums the response.
The next morning brings a splendid view of the countryside and the news that they will have to travel together for the next three days. The nearest place where Rose Marie can pick up a guide is Hayman’s Landing. With throbbing heart, Rose Marie follows Bruce into the pines. Soon she is an experienced “trail hand,” saddling the horses and cooking over a campfire. The time is gone too soon.
On their last night together, they stand on a cliff overlooking the valley where tomorrow she will find Hayman’s Landing and her brother Jack. The setting sun moves the Sergeant to quote Shakespeare: “And this, our life, exempt from public haunts, finds tongues in trees, books in running brooks, sermons in stones and good in everything.” He is such a contradiction. Rose Marie doesn’t understand how he can spend his life tracking down poor creatures. She gestures to the majesty around them. Doesn’t this make him more charitable? Nature, he tells her, is far from charitable. Everyone must pay for what they do. The cruelty is when others must pay for it too.
Rose Marie begs him to give up being a Mountie and let her help him become a singer. “I belong up here,” he says simply. The Indian call is heard from below. Tonight there is no answer. Bruce asks her about the man she is going to. She must love him very much. “Yes…I do,” she chokes. The call is heard again and she asks him to return it. He answers and then they sing it together. Each knows that whatever happens tomorrow, they will never again be together without something between them.
They admit they love each other. Both are willing to accept the moment. She asks him to come to her if she ever calls him, and he promises. Then reality returns. Bruce rises abruptly. They will go on to Hayman’s Landing immediately.
He delivers her to the trading post and coldly takes his leave. When she gets back to the city, he tells her, she won’t want to see him. Rose Marie protests, but he silences her: “You’ll remember me for what I am—a policeman.”
Hours later, she reaches the remote cabin and has a tender reunion with Jack (Jimmy Stewart). He promises her he will start fresh with the money she has brought, but his restlessness and need for excitement are evident to anyone but the most loving sister. He tells her he has been thinking of going to China. Desperately she begs him to stay in touch with her. “You’re all I have left in the world. You’ll be good, won’t you?” “I’ll give it a fling,” he smiles.
Sergeant Bruce appears suddenly in the doorway, gun in hand. Quickly he handcuffs the cringing Jack. Rose Marie begs him to let Jack go. “He’s my brother!”
“I know,” Bruce replies quietly. He takes Jack to a waiting horse and starts along the path, leaving Marie sobbing hysterically. She tries to call them back, singing the “Indian Love Call,” but Bruce’s oath is stronger than his promise.
Later on the trail, Jack asks the Sergeant about the excitement his arrest will cause. He always did like excitement, Jack tells the sergeant in a touching vignette. The scene fades.
Somewhere in the world, Marie is on another opera stage performing the last act of Tosca. The drama of the scene may be partially lost on those not familiar with the opera, but the general plot comes through. The famous actress (“La Tosca”) has been tricked into thinking she can escape with her lover, Mario, after he undergoes a “mock” execution. She tells Mario (Allan Jones) of the plan and happily rehearses him in his phony death scene. “What an artist!” she exclaims as he topples from the all-too-real bullets. The firing squad departs, and she calls to him to rise. He is dead. Trapped on the parapet by the soldiers of the man she has murdered trying to make good Mario’s escape, she leaps to her death. It is not exactly a direct operatic parable, but it does give a strong sense of the irony of death and of Marie’s feelings about her brother’s execution.
A tasteful but powerful parallel might have been drawn if Marie had “seen” her brother’s face over that of the opera hero during the stage execution. Instead, for no dramatically valid reason, she keeps hearing the voice of Sergeant Bruce singing “Indian Love Call.” The intermingling of Puccini and Friml is intriguing. Finally, the lady hits a perfect high note and collapses in the middle of the stage.
Now the finale. Does Marie forgive Sergeant Bruce and go in search of him, calling to him across the incredibly beautiful pine forest where they first fell in love? Does he answer her and gallop to her side? Are the lovers reunited in music, clinging to each other in the sunset? No. It is as if location money ran out, and the final moments occur on a soundstage with all the wild romance of an afternoon tea.
Marie retires to an elaborate hunting lodge cum nursing home, complete with soundstage snow swirling outside the window. In a bit of exposition with Myerson, we learn that she has been reclining on the chintz-covered chaise lounge for six months, not singing a note, not caring about anything. Myerson departs, saying how disappointed he was not to hear her voice echoing through the (blizzardy) hills when he arrived. This is apparently the lady’s cue, for she takes up the first strains of the “Indian Love Call.”
Sergeant Bruce, prompted by Myerson, steps out of the foyer where he has been hiding and joins her in the chorus on the chaise lounge. A very pallid ending for a picture that has built so well and so dramatically to a much more satisfying conclusion.
The public responded enthusiastically to the good in the picture, and the fan magazines now proclaimed the existence of a “team.” The studio began preparing another operetta for the “Singing Sweethearts,” this time by the third major operetta composer of the twentieth century, Sigmund Romberg. But Miss MacDonald, perhaps fighting the team image, had another idea. She wanted to keep her own identity and was willing to shoot for the moon, Hollywood variety.
The popular press rushed to herald the “team” and Nelson Eddy. “Rose Marie stars make perfect team,” wrote Kate Cameron in the New York News. “Judging by the reception accorded him, the tall, blond and husky concert baritone, Nelson Eddy, has become a serious threat to Clark Gable for the honor of being the movies’ No. 1 matinee idol” – Rose Pelswick, New York Journal.
The more staid New York Times reported: “As blithely melodious and rich in scenic beauty as any picture that has come from Hollywood. To paraphrase Fletcher, let Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy sing an operetta’s love songs and we care not who may write its book. In splendid voice, whether singing solo or in duet, they prove to be fully as delightful a combination here as they were in Naughty Marietta.”
Variety praised the new libretto, the director, the stars, and just about every major scene in the film. “A box-office honey.” However, they deplored the unflattering effect of the Mountie hat on Eddy. “From Bill Hart down, the kiddies never could quite look very Romeo underneath that hunk of Stetson.”
“Indian Love Call” (with “Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life” from Naughty Marietta on the reverse) sold over a million copies—the only song from the stage score that Jeanette recorded.
Nelson also recorded an album of the stage songs with Dorothy Kirsten:
“Door of My Dreams” from stage score (Eddy)
“I Love Him” from stage score (Eddy, Kirsten)
“Indian Love Call” (with MacDonald and, again, with Kirsten)
“The Mounties” (Eddy)
“Totem Tom-Tom” (Eddy and Kirsten)
“Pretty Things” from stage score (Kirsten)
“Why Shouldn’t We?” from stage score (Kirsten)
MacDonald also recorded “Juliette’s Waltz” (“Je veux vivre dans ce rêve”) from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.
In most minds, composer Rudolf Friml is synonymous with Rose Marie, so it is surprising to learn that Herbert Stothart wrote most of the score of the 1924 stage production before he became MGM’s musical director in the 1930s. He is credited with the numerous bits of incidental music (“Prelude,” “Opening,” “Wanda’s Entrance,” etc.), three songs (“Hard Boiled Herman,” “Why Shouldn’t We,” and “Only a Kiss”), and as co-composer of “The Mounties” and “Totem Tom-Tom.”
In listing performers after each title, “and” denotes a genuine duet, while commas between names indicate a sequence of singers.
Overture: “Indian Love Call” (chorus, MacDonald), “Rose Marie” INTO:
Scenes from Roméo et Juliette, music by Charles Gounod, libretto by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. *
Opening of Act I, Capulet’s Ball (chorus)
Roméo’s entrance recitative (chorus, Allan Jones as Roméo, baritone as Mercutio)
“Je veux vivre dans ce rêve” (MacDonald)
Act I finale montage (chorus)
Act III duel
Act IV with Friar Lawrence (bass)
Act V death scene (MacDonald and Jones)
“Tes Yeux” (MacDonald) – music by René Alphonse Rabey
“Pardon Me, Madame” (MacDonald and chorus, nine soloists including Delos Jewkes, Pat West)
– music by Herbert Stothart, lyrics by Gus Kahn
“The Mounties” (Eddy, male chorus) – originally “Song of the Mounties,” music by Friml and Stothart,
lyrics by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II
“The Mounties” reprise (men’s chorus, baritone dubbing for Graham, Eddy)
“St. Louis Blues” fragment (Gray) – by W. C. Handy
“Dinah” (MacDonald) – music by Harry Akst, lyrics by Sam Lewis and Joe Young
“Some of These Days” (MacDonald, Gray) – by Shelton Brooks
“Rose Marie” (Eddy, MacDonald sings two lines in comic reprise) – music by Friml, lyrics by
Hammerstein and Harbach
“Totem Tom-Tom” (chorus) – music by Friml and Stothart, lyrics by Hammerstein and Harbach
“Just for You” (Eddy) – adapted from Jim’s melody line in “Finaletto” sextet, music by Friml, adapted by Stothart, new lyrics by Gus Kahn
“Three Blind Mice” (MacDonald with echo) – traditional
“Indian Love Call” (Eddy, MacDonald) – originally “The Call,” music by Friml, lyrics by Harbach
and Hammerstein. Sung four times:
1. Earl Covert, tenor, unknown soprano, MacDonald gives “call,” Eddy sings.
2. MacDonald hums; Eddy hums.
3. Soprano, Earl Covert give call; MacDonald and Eddy sing duet.
4. MacDonald, sobbing, sings to departing Eddy.
Tosca, Act III, from Tosca’s entrance (MacDonald as Tosca, Jones as Mario, bass, tenor**) –
music by Giacomo Puccini, libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica. Interpolated fragment
of “Indian Love Call” (Eddy).
“Indian Love Call” reprise (Eddy joined by MacDonald)
*Pay records indicate Olga Dane sang and acted, Alesandro Giglio recorded only.
**Pay records indicate that Earl Covert, voice of the lovesick brave, also recorded a bit for the Tosca sequence.
Songs from the stage version used in the film are “Indian Love Call,” “Rose Marie,” “Totem Tom-Tom,” and “[Song of] The Mounties.” “Finaletto” was adapted into “Just for You.” Many will mourn the omission of the lovely “Door of My Dreams” from the 1936 film. It was included in the 1954 remake.
Contributed by Mary Truesdell
Producer Hunt Stromberg was in charge of following up the 1935 smash hit Naughty Marietta with a film starring Nelson and diva Grace Moore, writes Mary Truesdell in her 2003 monograph. Since it would have been ludicrous to cast Moore as the naïve peasant girl of the stage and silent versions, Stromberg’s idea was to force a spoiled opera singer out of her element and into a New World where she would meet a “real man,” the Mountie.
A gimmick in several preliminary scripts was the Singing Waterfall where “Roget” (later Marie) would meet “Sgt. Bruce Marlowe.” There, he tells her about the Indian lovers who flung themselves over the falls when their tribes forbade them to marry. Script conferences indicate a debate about whether Jimmy Stewart’s character should nobly sacrifice himself and aid the romance by going over the falls in a canoe, so that Bruce wouldn’t be responsible for turning him in to hang. One version even had the distraught heroine return to the falls after her brother’s death and contemplate suicide before she hears the Mountie’s call! Wiser heads prevailed.
Movie magic sometimes comes about because scenes are routinely shot out of sequence and then rearranged in the editing process or parts of the same scene are shot on different days. Costumes may change within the same scene, props appear and disappear. The continuity person (called a “script girl” in the old days) tried desperately to prevent these mistakes, but sometimes they slipped in. Here are some favorites spotted by sharp-eyed fans.
The handkerchief in the pocket of Jeanette’s suede jacket keeps disappearing and reappearing. When she takes off her boots to dry, Nelson puts his pipe in his pocket. Yet a moment later he is puffing on it. (Anna Michalik)
One of the most frequently noticed goofs is the hotel manager’s nightshirt. In the hall, it is a solid medium color with a few horizontal stripes at the hem. As he steps through a doorway, it becomes white with vertical dark stripes. (Elsa Dik Glass and Julie Illescas)
Also, the same actor, Robert Greig, plays the saloon manager with one accent, and then later in the film, appears as the hotel manager with a different accent. Since, with moral restrictions of The Code, MGM certainly didn’t want to imply that Jeanette was renting a room over a saloon, this was probably an oversight in casting. Actors like Greig worked so often on so many films that perhaps no one noticed he was on screen in two roles in the same film! (Author)
When Nelson sings “Rose Marie,” there is a distinct, moving shadow under his arm, apparently the rocking mechanism for the canoe. Also, the many references to the time of day rarely correspond to the shadows! Like when Nelson makes beans and bacon for supper, and the sun is directly overhead. Also the first two ‘Wanted’ posters for Jimmy Stewart list his height as 6’1” but the third says 5’8.” (Tricia Lutz)
When they roll in the huge drum in preparation for the Indian dance, they tip it on top of a black iron pot that has a fire under it. Nevertheless, in the next scene they are dancing on top of it with no evidence of smoke or fire. (Dorothy Hill)
The November 1929 Photoplay reported that Carlotta King, heroine of the 1929 film The Desert Song opposite John Boles, had been signed to a five-year contract by MGM. “She will next be heard in the sound version of Rose-Marie.” (MGM had just made a silent version with Joan Crawford.)
Pierre Berton’s excellent book, Hollywood’s Canada, points out several errors in Canadian geography, history, botany, and anthropology in Rose Marie. “The Indians, [Eddy] adds, come from miles around to take part in [the festival]. And they certainly do. The dance that follows seems to borrow something from every Indian culture: there are Plains headdresses, Mexican shawls, Aztec breech clouts…west-coast totem poles, drums twelve feet high, and the Great Spirit knows what else—an aboriginal mulligan stew that makes a joke of Canadian Indian culture.” Berton also indicates that, given an understandable lack of enthusiasm for Hollywood’s misguided stereotypes and often egregious errors, the much-publicized cooperation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police was far less enthusiastic than MGM indicated.
Berton further notes that of the hundreds of Hollywood films depicting Mounties, at least thirty have the Love-versus-Duty theme. Of these, nine require the Mountie to bring in his sweetheart’s brother.
While the area of location shooting was called Lake Tahoe in that summer of 1935, the official name for the lake itself from 1883 to 1945 was actually Lake Bigler, named after California’s third governor. (E.B. Scott’s Saga of Lake Tahoe has a good section on the different names Lake Tahoe has had over the years.) The name Tahoe may come from an Anglo distortion of the Washoe word “Da ow a ga,” or “lake of the sky.” (Thanks to Sara Larson, Executive Director of the North Lake Tahoe Historical Society.)
A faded 1935 newspaper clipping describes the adventure of a young couple at Lake Tahoe:
Honeymooning on a shoestring almost proved disastrous to a young Los Angeles couple, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy de Fremery. They found themselves stranded and penniless at Lake Tahoe, facing a long hitch-hike home until they met Col. W.S. Van Dyke, the director. De Fremery, who is 21 years of age, chanced to stroll into Van Dyke’s film camp at the lake where he is making “Rose Marie” with Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy. He bared his story “to that big, tall guy.” The director was impressed by Jimmy’s story and his appearance and hired him as assistant property man. Then he summoned the bride and put her to work as an extra.
James and Eileen de Fremery never forgot the kindness of the Hollywood film company to young newlyweds. Although Jeanette and Jimmy Stewart both posed for James’ camera (Jeanette confidently and professionally, Stewart with a typical “aw-shucks” slouch). Nelson was either too busy or too shy to pose. De Fremery’s only shots of Nelson are all long-distance over the camera crew’s shoulders while Nelson is hard at work.