The Chocolate Soldier (1941)

102 mins | Musical comedy | November 1941

Director:

Roy Del Ruth

Producer:

Victor Saville

Cinematographers:

Karl Freund, Ray June

Editor:

James E. Newcom

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

The assumed name of "Karl Lang," the character played by Nelson Eddy, is variously spelled Vasily Vassilievitch and Vassiliy Vassilievitch in the film's cutting continuity, but is never spelled out onscreen. According to HR news items, M-G-M wanted to borrow Ray Middleton from Republic for a role in the picture, but he did not appear in the released film. Other HR news items noted that Broadway musical-comedy performer "Rags" Ragland was to make his film debut in the picture and that cameraman Hal Rosson filled in for Karl Freund while Freund was ill. Ragland actually made his debut in Ringside Maisie (see below). The Chocolate Soldier marked Metropolitan opera singer Risë Stevens' motion picture debut. The film earned Oscar nominations for Freund (black and white cinematography), Herbert Stothart (scoring of a musical film) and Bronislau Kaper (musical adaptation and direction). In 1931, M-G-M filmed the first adaptation of the Ferenc Molnar play. That film, which was not a musical, starred husband and wife stage actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne as the leads, and was adapted for the screen by Ernest Vajda and Claudine West (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; ... More Less

The assumed name of "Karl Lang," the character played by Nelson Eddy, is variously spelled Vasily Vassilievitch and Vassiliy Vassilievitch in the film's cutting continuity, but is never spelled out onscreen. According to HR news items, M-G-M wanted to borrow Ray Middleton from Republic for a role in the picture, but he did not appear in the released film. Other HR news items noted that Broadway musical-comedy performer "Rags" Ragland was to make his film debut in the picture and that cameraman Hal Rosson filled in for Karl Freund while Freund was ill. Ragland actually made his debut in Ringside Maisie (see below). The Chocolate Soldier marked Metropolitan opera singer Risë Stevens' motion picture debut. The film earned Oscar nominations for Freund (black and white cinematography), Herbert Stothart (scoring of a musical film) and Bronislau Kaper (musical adaptation and direction). In 1931, M-G-M filmed the first adaptation of the Ferenc Molnar play. That film, which was not a musical, starred husband and wife stage actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne as the leads, and was adapted for the screen by Ernest Vajda and Claudine West (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.1738). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Oct 1941.
---
Daily Variety
14 Oct 1941.
---
Film Daily
15 Oct 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 41
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
13 May 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jun 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Jun 41
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 41
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Nov 41
p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Oct 41
p. 317.
New York Times
1 Nov 41
p. 20.
Variety
15 Oct 41
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Contr wrt
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
Fill-in dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Mus presentations
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Men's cost
MUSIC
Mus adpt and dir
Mus adpt and dir
SOUND
Rec dir
DANCE
Dances staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
STAND INS
Vocal stand-in for Risë Stevens
Vocal stand-in for Nelson Eddy
Double for Nelson Eddy in Gypsy cafe seq
Singing voice double for Jack "Tiny" Lipson in "Se
Singing voice doubles for eccentric dancers in "Se
Singing voice doubles for eccentric dancers in "Se
Singing voice doubles for eccentric dancers in "Se
Singing voice doubles for eccentric dancers in "Se
Singing voice doubles for eccentric dancers in "Se
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Testör by Ferenc Molnár (Budapest, 1911).
SONGS
Musical program based on the operetta Der Tapfere Soldat (The Chocolate Soldier) , music by Oscar Straus, lyrics by Rudolph Bernauer and Leopold Jacobson, English lyrics by Stanislaus Stange: "My Hero," "Thank the Lord the War Is Over," "Seek the Spy," "Ti-Ra-La-La," "The Letter Song," "Forgive," "Alexius the Heroic" and "The Chocolate Soldier," music by Oscar Straus, adaptation by Bronislau Kaper and Herbert Stothart, lyrics by Stanislaus Stange, with additional lyrics by Gus Kahn
"Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix" from the opera Samson et Dalila , music by Charles Camille Saint-Saëns, libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire
"Song of the Flea," music by Modeste Moussorgsky, Russian lyrics by Strugovshchikov, English lyrics by Gus Kahn
+
SONGS
Musical program based on the operetta Der Tapfere Soldat (The Chocolate Soldier) , music by Oscar Straus, lyrics by Rudolph Bernauer and Leopold Jacobson, English lyrics by Stanislaus Stange: "My Hero," "Thank the Lord the War Is Over," "Seek the Spy," "Ti-Ra-La-La," "The Letter Song," "Forgive," "Alexius the Heroic" and "The Chocolate Soldier," music by Oscar Straus, adaptation by Bronislau Kaper and Herbert Stothart, lyrics by Stanislaus Stange, with additional lyrics by Gus Kahn
"Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix" from the opera Samson et Dalila , music by Charles Camille Saint-Saëns, libretto by Ferdinand Lemaire
"Song of the Flea," music by Modeste Moussorgsky, Russian lyrics by Strugovshchikov, English lyrics by Gus Kahn
"Evening Star" from the opera Tannhäuser , music and libretto by Richard Wagner, English lyrics by Gus Kahn
"Sympathy," music by Oscar Strauss, adaptation by Bronislau Kaper, lyrics by Stanislaus Stange and Gus Kahn
"While My Lady Sleeps," music by Bronislau Kaper, lyrics by Gus Kahn.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
November 1941
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 31 October 1941
Production Date:
early June--late July 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
14 October 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10855
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
102
Length(in feet):
9,136
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7656
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Viennese musical comedy stars Karl Lang and Maria Lanyi are successful in their careers, but their six-month-old marriage is not doing well. When Maria expresses an interest in pursuing a career in Grand Opera, Karl thinks that it is just an excuse to leave him, and confides in their good friend, Bernard Fischer, that he thinks Maria is simply in love with romance and will soon be seeking other men. Bernard's suggestion that Karl act like "Tannhäuser" and be romantic toward Maria backfires when Maria becomes annoyed at Karl's late-night singing. After their performance the next night, Karl and Maria go to a nightclub, and Karl receives a telegram. Although Karl had sent the telegram to himself, he claims that it is from a friend who needs to be bailed out of jail. After he leaves, while Maria is confiding in Bernard that she, too, is jealous, Karl dons the disguise of a bearded Russian guardsman named Vassily Vassilievitch, then performs for the audience. Maria is intrigued by the singer, and when he comes to her table, they begin a flirtation. Shortly after "Vassily" leaves, Karl changes clothes again and returns as himself. The next day, when flowers arrive for Maria, she and Karl argue because she denies that the gift came with a card, and merely says that the man who sent them loves her. Later, she confides in Bernard that she thinks it was Karl posing as Vassily and was overjoyed to read his romantic note suggesting that she stand by her window at five that afternoon. Because it is Sunday and they have no performance, Karl must make an ... +


Viennese musical comedy stars Karl Lang and Maria Lanyi are successful in their careers, but their six-month-old marriage is not doing well. When Maria expresses an interest in pursuing a career in Grand Opera, Karl thinks that it is just an excuse to leave him, and confides in their good friend, Bernard Fischer, that he thinks Maria is simply in love with romance and will soon be seeking other men. Bernard's suggestion that Karl act like "Tannhäuser" and be romantic toward Maria backfires when Maria becomes annoyed at Karl's late-night singing. After their performance the next night, Karl and Maria go to a nightclub, and Karl receives a telegram. Although Karl had sent the telegram to himself, he claims that it is from a friend who needs to be bailed out of jail. After he leaves, while Maria is confiding in Bernard that she, too, is jealous, Karl dons the disguise of a bearded Russian guardsman named Vassily Vassilievitch, then performs for the audience. Maria is intrigued by the singer, and when he comes to her table, they begin a flirtation. Shortly after "Vassily" leaves, Karl changes clothes again and returns as himself. The next day, when flowers arrive for Maria, she and Karl argue because she denies that the gift came with a card, and merely says that the man who sent them loves her. Later, she confides in Bernard that she thinks it was Karl posing as Vassily and was overjoyed to read his romantic note suggesting that she stand by her window at five that afternoon. Because it is Sunday and they have no performance, Karl must make an excuse to leave and says that he has a charity function to attend that will require him to be away until late the next day. At 5:00 o'clock, Maria goes to the window, as the note suggested, and Karl, who is standing below, as Vassily, is upset to think that she is contemplating being unfaithful. Unknown to him, though, Maria has drawn whiskers on one of his photos and confirmed her suspicions that the bearded Vassily is really Karl. When "Vassily" accepts her invitation to come up to the apartment, Karl arrives in his costume, amusing Maria, who notices that his disguise does not even fool their dog, whom Karl cannot discourage from licking him. While Maria and Karl engage in some verbal love-making, she tells him that she likes strong men, and he pounces on her. At first she angrily pushes him away and tells him to leave, much to Karl's delight, but then flirtatiously tells him that her husband will be out that evening. Because Karl cannot take any more, "Vassily" leaves, then Karl quickly returns, explaining that he had missed his train. Before he leaves again, they argue and he accuses her of seeing another man. Later that night, "Vassily" makes another appearance and serenades her, after which he and Maria go to a gypsy café. "Vassily" tells Maria that he feels sorry for her husband, then she passionately kisses him and runs off. Unknown to Karl, Bernard has been hiding in the bushes observing their conversation and tells Karl to follow Maria, otherwise he will never know whether Maria is faithful. Karl does follow Maria, who tells him they must say goodbye. Later, though, she throws her key off the balcony. The next day, Maria is very happy and smug, worrying Karl, who decides to appear during their performance of The Chocolate Soldier dressed as Vassily. Although the audience does not understand why he is dressed as a Russian guardsman, Maria is happy that he is finally revealing himself and offstage tells him that his kisses gave him away because no man on earth kisses like him. Karl is now happy and secure in Maria's devotion, but becomes a bit worried when they return to the stage and she winks at someone in the audience. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.