The Smiling Lieutenant (1931)

88 mins | Romantic comedy, Musical | 1 August 1931

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HISTORY

Although NYT commented on a wedding scene in the film, no such scene was seen in the viewed print. The song "Breakfast Table Love" might also be known as "One More Hour of Love," and "Live for Today" might also be known as "While Hearts Are Singing." Scenes shot for this film are included in the 1931 Paramount promotional film The House That Shadows Built (see above). Modern sources add the following credits: Art dir , Hans Dreier; Mus dir, Adolph Deutsch; Mus arr, John W. Green and Conrad Salinger; Sd eng, C. A. Tuthill; ( Officer ) Charles Wassenheim; ( A woman ) Maude Allen. Further, one modern source notes that Paramount maintained three silent versions of the film for foreign release to defray the cost of their original negative. Chevalier experienced personal tragedy during the production when his mother died, and he also became estranged from his wife, Yvonne Vallee, at this time. Modern sources report that Hopkins earned $1,500 per week for this, her second feature film. By the 1950s, film experts believed that the film no longer existed. However, a print was eventually found in the Danish Film Archives. An earlier film entitled The Waltz Dream , which was based on the same sources, was produced in Germany in 1926 and was released in the United States. The Smiling Lieutenant was nominated by AMPAS for Best Picture of 1931/32, and NYT included it in its 1931 "Ten Best" list. NYSA records list a French version of the film called Le lieutenant souriant , directed by Ernst Lubitsch and written by Ernest Vadja, that ... More Less

Although NYT commented on a wedding scene in the film, no such scene was seen in the viewed print. The song "Breakfast Table Love" might also be known as "One More Hour of Love," and "Live for Today" might also be known as "While Hearts Are Singing." Scenes shot for this film are included in the 1931 Paramount promotional film The House That Shadows Built (see above). Modern sources add the following credits: Art dir , Hans Dreier; Mus dir, Adolph Deutsch; Mus arr, John W. Green and Conrad Salinger; Sd eng, C. A. Tuthill; ( Officer ) Charles Wassenheim; ( A woman ) Maude Allen. Further, one modern source notes that Paramount maintained three silent versions of the film for foreign release to defray the cost of their original negative. Chevalier experienced personal tragedy during the production when his mother died, and he also became estranged from his wife, Yvonne Vallee, at this time. Modern sources report that Hopkins earned $1,500 per week for this, her second feature film. By the 1950s, film experts believed that the film no longer existed. However, a print was eventually found in the Danish Film Archives. An earlier film entitled The Waltz Dream , which was based on the same sources, was produced in Germany in 1926 and was released in the United States. The Smiling Lieutenant was nominated by AMPAS for Best Picture of 1931/32, and NYT included it in its 1931 "Ten Best" list. NYSA records list a French version of the film called Le lieutenant souriant , directed by Ernst Lubitsch and written by Ernest Vadja, that starred Maurice Chevalier, Claudette Colbert and Miriam Hopkins, with French dialogue and lyrics by Jacques Bataille-Henri. That version, which was 8,126 feet in length, played in New York on 15 Oct 1931. According to an article in NYT in Feb 1932, the French version was very successful in Paris. No additional information on a French version has been located, however, and it is probable that the version mentioned in the NYT was merely dubbed. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Film Daily
24 May 31
p. 10.
Film Daily
29 Nov 31
p. 19.
La Cinematographie Française
26-Dec-31
---
Motion Picture Daily
22-Jan-31
---
Motion Picture Herald
24 Jan 31
p. 43.
Motion Picture Herald
11 Jul 31
p. 26.
New York Times
12 Apr 31
p. 6.
New York Times
23 May 31
p. 13.
New York Times
31 May 31
p. 5.
New York Times
7-Feb-32
---
Variety
27 May 31
p. 56.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Ernst Lubitsch Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
WRITERS
[Wrt] by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
FILM EDITOR
SOUND
Rec eng
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the operetta Ein Walzertraum by Felix Dörmann and Leopold Jacobson (Leipzig, 31 May 1907), and the novel Nux der Prinzgemahl by Hans Müller (publication undetermined).
SONGS
"Jazz Up Your Lingerie," "One More Hour of Love," "Breakfast Table Love Song," "What Can They Expect of Me?" "Toujours L'Amour in the Army" and "Live for Today," music by Oscar Straus, lyrics by Clifford Grey.
DETAILS
Release Date:
1 August 1931
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 10 July 1931
Production Date:
began 6 February 1931 at Paramount-Publix New York Studios (Astoria, Long Island)
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Publix Corp.
Copyright Date:
3 August 1931
Copyright Number:
LP2370
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
88
Length(in feet):
8,400
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In Vienna, Lieutenant Nikolaus "Niki" von Preyn falls in love with violinist Franzi at a beer garden, although his married friend Max has had his eye on her. Not long after, Niki convinces Franzi to stay with him through breakfast, and they are caught up in a happy romance. When the King of Flausenthurm arrives in Vienna with his homely and sheltered daughter, Princess Anna, Niki turns out with the guards in the street. He smiles and winks at Franzi, who is across the street, just as the carriage passes, and Anna believes the smile was meant for her and that he was making fun of her. This incident makes the headlines, and Niki is called before the king for disciplinary action. Noting that the king is easy prey to flattery, and realizing that telling the truth would be of no help, Niki claims that he smiled at Anna because he found her beautiful, and because of this, forgot his duty. Thrilled by his flattery, Anna forgives him, and the king appoints him to be his main adjutant while in Vienna. In the evening, Niki returns to Franzi, and when she shows signs of jealousy with regard to the princess, Niki honestly admits he does not even remember the color of Anna's hair. While he and Franzi reaffirm their love for each other, Anna is giving her ladies-in-waiting a glowing account of Niki. Anna begs her father to allow her to marry Niki, threatening to marry an American if he does not, and after getting approval from his cousin, the Emperor, the king gives his consent. Much to Niki's surprise, ... +


In Vienna, Lieutenant Nikolaus "Niki" von Preyn falls in love with violinist Franzi at a beer garden, although his married friend Max has had his eye on her. Not long after, Niki convinces Franzi to stay with him through breakfast, and they are caught up in a happy romance. When the King of Flausenthurm arrives in Vienna with his homely and sheltered daughter, Princess Anna, Niki turns out with the guards in the street. He smiles and winks at Franzi, who is across the street, just as the carriage passes, and Anna believes the smile was meant for her and that he was making fun of her. This incident makes the headlines, and Niki is called before the king for disciplinary action. Noting that the king is easy prey to flattery, and realizing that telling the truth would be of no help, Niki claims that he smiled at Anna because he found her beautiful, and because of this, forgot his duty. Thrilled by his flattery, Anna forgives him, and the king appoints him to be his main adjutant while in Vienna. In the evening, Niki returns to Franzi, and when she shows signs of jealousy with regard to the princess, Niki honestly admits he does not even remember the color of Anna's hair. While he and Franzi reaffirm their love for each other, Anna is giving her ladies-in-waiting a glowing account of Niki. Anna begs her father to allow her to marry Niki, threatening to marry an American if he does not, and after getting approval from his cousin, the Emperor, the king gives his consent. Much to Niki's surprise, Adjutant Von Rockoff appears at Niki's apartment and informs him that, although he is not allowed to propose to the princess, he is to be married to her. When Niki attempts to protest the marriage, the emperor himself congratulates him and he realizes he is stuck. Dejected, Franzi takes her lingerie, sheet music and violin and leaves Niki's apartment, but leaves behind a garter and a note saying, "It was lovely while it lasted." Niki and Anna are married and move to Flausenthurm, but Niki is too miserable to consummate the union, and Anna spends most of her time playing checkers with her father. One day, Niki discovers that Franzi has come to Flausenthurm with her all-girl orchestra, and has her unofficially arrested so he can spend time with her. Anna becomes aware of the affair and calls Franzi to the palace to meet her. Both women sob over their predicament, but Franzi takes pity on Anna and tries to bring her into the modern age by introducing her to sexy lingerie, jazz music and a new hair style, among other things. The women part as friends, and Franzi leaves Flausenthurm for good. Hearing lively jazz music in the palace, Niki rushes downstairs to find Anna transformed, and unable to believe his eyes, he checks the liquor bottle from which he was drinking, takes another drink and returns to Anna. Convinced of her new beauty, he tosses the checkers board onto their bed, and the newlyweds finally head for a good game. +

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.