And with “The Love Parade,” his first sound film released in late 1929/early 1930 (depending on the source), he demonstrates that renowned touch with a visual wit that was lacking in most musicals at this time. In fact, when you compare this to “The Broadway Melody” released by MGM just one year prior, Paramount’s “The Love Parade” makes “Melody” look like an ancient relic.
That’s partly due to the rapid increase in sound technology, partly due to the lavish production values and mostly due to Lubitsch’s expert direction, which makes you forget how few sets this film really has.
The film also features Maurice Chevalier in his first Hollywood sound film and Jeannette MacDonald in her film debut. The only thing lacking is the story itself, which is pretty thin and pretty predictable, despite being based on a play called “The Prince Consort.”
Chevalier plays Count Alfred Renard, the playboy ambassador to France from Sylvania. His numerous love affairs result in his being called home by Queen Louise (MacDonald). Everyone wants to know when the queen will marry, and when she meets the suave Renard, she falls for him – and he for her.
But while Renard doesn’t mind being a prince, he soon learns that he doesn’t like being subservient to the queen.
Audiences flocked to the film because its sophistication was different from most of the early movie musicals, which were backstage affairs. The film received five Academy Award nominations, including best picture, best actor and best director, but did not win anything.
Lubitsch would continue that marvelous wit for years to come, working with both stars several more times (including “The Merry Widow,” which I reviewed a few years ago). MacDonald eventually moved to MGM where she successfully teamed with Nelson Eddy, while Chevalier put his amorous movie persona to good use for several more years before returning to France.