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The working titles of this film were Maiden Voyage and Maiden Cruise. Melody Cruise was the first sound feature film directed by Mark Sandrich. According to modern sources, producer Brock convinced his studio superiors to hire Sandrich, who had directed an Academy Award winning RKO 1932 short, "So This Is Harris," and had assisted on RKO's 1932 feature, Hold 'Em Jail, for this production. The New York Times review commented extensively on Sandrich's imaginative direction, praising in particular his use of "cinematic stunts" and his "blending of different sounds." One such "stunt," for instance, takes place during the final scene in which "Grace" reads the damning letter. As she starts to read, the image of "Pete" actually shrinks proportionally until he is a speck sitting next to his wife. Reviewers also touted the ballet sequence, which was staged on ice. Brock, who had been head of the short film department, made his feature film debut with this production. Variety noted that this film marked vaudeville performer Chick Chandler's "first real screen debut." Prior to Melody Cruise, Chandler appeared in a 1925 silent film, Red Love. RKO borrowed Charlie Ruggles from Paramount. According to a March Film Daily news item, Nelson Eddy gave up the lead in the film to resume a concert tour. Wera Engels was announced in early February 1933 as the female lead, but apparently was dissatisfied with the part and left RKO in late March 1933, according to Film Daily. Modern sources state that Melody Cruise was the first film musical to use its songs to advance its plot. Two earlier musicals, Paramount's 1932 film Love Me Tonight, and United Artists' early 1933 production Hallelujah, I'm a Bum, however, used music in a similar fashion. According to modern sources, Melody Cruise was a surprise financial success for RKO.