Rose Marie (1936), starring Jeannette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy, was the second of three film adaptations by MGM (1928-lost & 1954) based on the 1924 Broadway play of the same name about an opera singer and a Canadian Mountie. The 1936 film, which was the second pairing of Jeannette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy after the wild success of their first film Naughty Marietta (1935), retained some of the original songs - most notably the "Indian Love Call" - changed much of the story:
The musical feast comes about this way: Rose Marie, in the new version, is an operatic star whose brother escapes from a Canadian penitentiary. Learning he is wounded and in hiding in the north woods, she attempts to find him. During her journey she encounters Sergeant Bruce of the Mounties (Mr. Eddy), who has been assigned to get his man—the same brother, obviously. Miss MacDonald would prefer to seek out the fugitive without the assistance of the sergeant—both working at cross motives as it were—but, what with the desertion of her guide and the discovery that she and Mr. Eddy sing together quite well, she is compelled to accept his escort. It leads, all very naturally, to romance, to complications and to an extremely pleasant concert against the magnificent backgrounds of mountain trails, shimmering lakes and cloud-flecked skies.
~ NY Times
The Lake Tahoe area in Northern Californian stood in for Canada, a revolutionary decision at the time when everything was shot on soundstages. Rose Marie was also "one of the first musicals to use a naturalistic setting. A special train of seventeen box cars carted the equipment to the location. Movie crews built several 40-foot totem poles in state parkland at Emerald Bay for the Indian totem pole dance" (source).
It is the lovely on-location scenery that makes the film a delight to watch. The chemistry between the two leads is evident from the moment of their meeting and MacDonald shows off her comedic side when she stubbornly refuses Eddy's help after her guide runs off with all her things and ends up running into his arms at her first scare. Another highlight is a brief appearance at the end of young James Stewart as MacDonald's no-good brother.
This post is part of The Singing Sweethearts Blogathon hosted by Pure Entertainment Preservation Society. Be sure to check out the rest of the posts celebrating this famous film couple!