That's Entertainment

Rose Marie (1936)

Well, I’ve finally found the wonderful intersection of the growing number of “not available on Netflix so I should really, really watch these now” entries on my DVR, and my desire to watch every film featured in That’s EntertainmentRose Marie!

TCM aired this on Canada Day, the most appropriate of all days, because Rose Marie is perhaps cinema’s finest mountie musical. It’s also another one of wonderful those Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy collaborations, which were a big part of TCM’s assault on my DVR, so I’m becoming quite the expert. I have one or two left still to go (and of course, several of them were not aired on MacEddy day), but I think they’re very charming together in what I’ve seen. Although their dynamic on screen tends to be somewhat similar, they really have some inventive plots–they certainly couldn’t be accused of making the same movie over and over. So, unlike Broadway Serenade–where they’re a theater couple swapping spots on the fickle road to fame–or I Married an Angel–where MacDonald is literally an angel sent down from heaven to marry Eddy–here we have MacDonald playing an opera singer trying to find her brother, who’s an escaped convict hiding in the Canadian wilderness, before the mountie sent to track him does. The mountie is of course played by Eddy and they of course might kind of fall in love in spite of the situation.

Her brother, by the way, is played by a very young Jimmy Stewart, in one of his first credited roles. He appears in “Wanted” posters before we actually see him, so I had a great moment of, “Well, hey, doesn’t that kinda look like…” before ultimately realizing, well, yes it sure does, because it IS him. Not technically a cameo though, as it only seems that way with the modern advantage of knowledge of the future, so I’m not counting it as a “classic cameo.”

Above is “Indian Love Call,” the portion that’s actually featured in That’s Entertainment. This one fooled me, as I tend to avoid reviewing the list to see which number is going to be the “big” one that would have been chosen for the compilation. “Indian Love Call” is certainly a pretty tune, but unlike many of the entries, it’s by no means a big dance number, or really a dance number at all–MacDonald and Eddy are singing it fairly motionless while sitting in a canoe. I’m guessing that Rose Marie is a bit of a forgotten classic nowadays (it’s only available on DVD via Warner Archive), and either the movie or just the song became a big cultural reference at the time, and the inclusion was a nod to that popularity. It is a very pretty song and a sweet example of their on screen relationship–plus MacDonald’s facial gymnastics as she turns from cold to “Well, how about THAT?” is so great.

The number I thought may have been the One was called “Totem Tom Tom,” which perhaps would have been included as a nod to some cultural diversity in the compilation… but it wasn’t. It’s an energetic dance, and the seemingly random mish mash of native cultures is a fascinating time capsule of the era. I love the part where the two dancers are moving around in a circle–a common set up, of course–but they’re dancing on an enormous drum. With every footfall, you get a great, resonant DUM DUM DUMMM–it’s like standard tapping taken to the next degree.

Rose Marie is a fun, romantic adventure story with simple themes and simple melodies, but a great example of the charm and charisma of MacDonald and Eddy together on screen.

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