Singing Sweethearts Long Past
Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy Under a New Moon (1940)
It's been easy to ignore or ridicule MacDonald/Eddy musicals since audiences laughed upon first sight of them in That's Entertainment. It was the one point in that compilation where mirth was directed at rather than with performers. My perception was clouded from there, having not seen a Mac/E up to 1974, and resolving not to if this was typical of their work. I still resisted as in "Not just now, maybe later" as clock lately ticked on New Moon as Warner Instant offering (movies there rotate and you can't put any off too long). Last night I gave in and came away glad for it. Gad, what a lavish spread this was! Understand Louis Mayer loved his Jeanette, thus Lion's purse spread wide for her vehicles. Richest were those with Eddy that made profit even on million plus invariably spent (notably more than committed to other Metro musicals, such as The Broadway Melody Of 1940, though The Wizard Of Oz topped them all for outlay). How many of us saw Nelson Eddy for a first time in anything other than 1943's Phantom Of The Opera? Or MacDonald beyond
Eddy comes off to least effect in Phantom, but was fine in Metros closer tailored for him, New Moon making clear how the series with MacDonald pleased a generation of viewing that would remember the team with real affection. Eddy could do action, manage comedy, and make love scenes with Jeanette believable. To latter extent, he beat Clark Gable in San Francisco. Operetta, yes, lots of it, does not undermine Eddy's masculinity. I rather wish That's Entertainment hadn't cut to the pair so sudden and head-on from Rose Marie, his pursed lips made up and the team faintly absurd against rear-projected wilderness. Those who'd holler "camp" at all old Hollywood had their ammunition here. And yet there were those in 1974 who saw MacDonald/Eddy as sentimental highlight of That's Entertainment, being the middle-aged, or better, by-then public who had loved the duo and looked forward to each of their co-starrings over period between 1935 and 1942. Our 60/70's-bred generation could never grasp feeling these folk had for Jeanette/Nelson in soaring song.
|Eddy and MacDonald with New Moon Producer/Director|
Robert Z. Leonard
|His Larger Part Cut, Buster Keaton Can Still|
Be Glimpsed in New Moon Crowd Scenes