Love Me Tonight is a 1932 American Pre-Code musical comedy film produced and directed by Rouben Mamoulian, with music by Rodgers and Hart. It stars Maurice Chevalier as a tailor who poses as a nobleman and Jeanette MacDonald as a princess with whom he falls in love. It also stars Charles Ruggles as a penniless nobleman, along with Charles Butterworth and Myrna Loy as members of his family.
The film is an adaptation by Samuel Hoffenstein, George Marion Jr. and Waldemar Young of the play Le Tailleur au château ("The tailor at the castle") by Paul Armont and Léopold Marchand. It features the classic Rodgers and Hart songs "Love Me Tonight", "Isn't it Romantic?", "Mimi", and "Lover". "Lover" is sung not romantically, as it often is in nightclubs, but comically, as MacDonald's character tries to control an unruly horse. The staging of "Isn't It Romantic?" was revolutionary for its time, combining both singing and film editing, as the song is passed from one singer (or group of singers) to another, all of whom are at different locales.
In 1990, Love Me Tonight was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".
The story describes an encounter between a Parisian tailor named Maurice Courtelin (Chevalier) and a family of local aristocrats. These include Vicomte Gilbert de Varèze (Ruggles), who owes Maurice a large amount of money for tailoring work; Gilbert's uncle the Duc d'Artelines (C. Aubrey Smith), the family patriarch; d'Artelines' man-hungry niece Valentine (Loy); and his other 22-year-old niece, Princesse Jeanette (MacDonald), who has been a widow for three years. D'Artelines has been unable to find Jeanette a new husband of suitable age and rank. The household also includes three aunts and an ineffectual suitor the Comte de Savignac (Butterworth).
Maurice custom-tailors clothing for de Varèze on credit, but the Vicomte's unpaid tailoring bills become intolerable, so Maurice travels to de Savignac's castle to collect the money owed to him. On the way, he has a confrontation with Princesse Jeanette. He immediately professes his love for her, but she haughtily rejects him.
When Maurice arrives at the castle, Gilbert introduces him as "Baron Courtelin" in order to hide the truth from the Comte . Maurice is fearful of this scheme at first, but changes his mind when he sees Jeanette. While staying at the castle, he arouses Valentine's desire, charms the rest of the family except for Jeanette, saves a deer's life during a hunt, and continues to woo Jeanette. The Comte de Savignac discovers that Maurice is a fake, but the Vicomte then claims that Maurice is a royal who is traveling incognito for security reasons. Finally, Jeanette succumbs to Maurice's charms, telling him "Whoever you are, whatever you are, wherever you are, I love you."
When Maurice criticizes Jeanette's tailor, the family confronts him for his rudeness, only to catch him and Jeanette alone with Jeanette partially undressed. Maurice explains that he is redesigning Jeanette's riding outfit, and he proves this by successfully altering it, but in the process he is forced to reveal his true identity. Despite her earlier promise, Jeanette recoils from him and runs to her room on hearing that he is a commoner. The entire household is outraged, and Maurice leaves. However, as a train carries him back to Paris, Jeanette struggles with her fears, finally realizes her mistake, and catches up to the train on horseback. When the engineer refuses to stop the train, she rides ahead and stands on the track. The train stops, Maurice jumps out, and the two lovers embrace as steam from the train envelops them.Maurice Chevalier as Maurice, Baron Courtelin
Jeanette MacDonald as Princesse Jeanette
Charles Ruggles as Vicomte Gilbert de Varèze (as Charlie Ruggles)
Charles Butterworth as Comte de Savignac
Myrna Loy as Comtesse Valentine
C. Aubrey Smith as the Duc d'Artelines
Elizabeth Patterson as First Aunt
Ethel Griffies as Second Aunt
Blanche Friderici as Third Aunt (as Blanche Frederici)
Joseph Cawthorn as Dr. Armand de Fontinac (as Joseph Cawthorne)
Robert Greig as Major Domo Flammand
Bert Roach as Émile
That's the Song of Paree
Isn't It Romantic?
A Woman Needs Something Like That
I'm an Apache
Love Me Tonight
The Son of a Gun Is Nothing But a Tailor
The Man for Me (dropped before the film was released)
Give Me Just a Moment (deleted before the film was completed)
AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs - Nominated
AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions - Nominated
AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
'Isn't it Romantic?' - #73
AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals - Nominated
Love Me Tonight was released through Kino International DVD on November 25, 2003. Extra features included screenplay excerpts of deleted scenes, audio commentary by Miles Kreuger (Founder and President of the Institute of the American Musical, Inc. and also a good friend of Rouben Mamoulian), production documents, censorship records, and performances from Maurice Chevalier (Louise) and Jeanette MacDonald (Love Me Tonight) from the 1932 short Hollywood on Parade. There are no existing pre-Code uncensored versions of the original film.