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Nelson And Jeanette: America's Singing Sweethearts

Nelson And Jeanette: America's Singing Sweethearts(1993)

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teaser Nelson And Jeanette: America's Singing Sweethearts (1993)

They were America's Singing Sweethearts; Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald stole moviegoers' hearts in the late 1930s and early '40s with their light music-filled romances and finely tuned voices. The documentary Nelson and Jeanette: America's Singing Sweethearts (1993) recaptures the magic in a musical memoir that will delight fans of the popular duo.

The documentary is hosted by Jane Powell, who co-starred with Jeanette MacDonald in Three Daring Daughters (1948). Powell played one of MacDonald's daughters in the film and remembers the star as "down to earth and very funny." Abundant clips from all eight of Nelson and Jeanette's MGM films are featured in Nelson and Jeanette: America's Singing Sweethearts as well as a few clips of the stars going it solo. The documentary begins with a brief bio of each star. It describes how Nelson and Jeanette both began their careers in Philadelphia. And how, incredibly, they were working in the same city, at the same time, but never met. Footage from Eddy's screen test is included, as well as an early Hollywood appearance in Broadway to Hollywood (1933). Jeanette's pre-Eddy career is also featured with a clip of The Merry Widow (1934) where she appears opposite Maurice Chevalier.

Nelson and Jeanette's first paring came in 1935's Naughty Marietta. The movie was based on an operetta by Victor Herbert and cast MacDonald as a French princess who trades places with her maid and sails to the New World. Along the way, the ship is seized by pirates and Nelson, as Captain Warrington, must come to the rescue. Musical clips from Naughty Marietta featured in the documentary include "I'm Falling in Love with Someone" and the ever-popular "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life." Naughty Marietta proved quite a successful film debut for Nelson and Jeanette; it was a hit at the box office and Oscar® nominated as best picture.

Nelson and Jeanette: America's Singing Sweethearts shows highlights from all of the pair's films including: Rose-Marie (1936) with a young Jimmy Stewart in his second film role; Maytime (1937) which was the year's biggest worldwide moneymaker and won a SAG award for MacDonald; Sweethearts (1938), the first color film for Nelson or Jeanette (as well as MGM's first three strip Technicolor feature); and New Moon (1940) which showcased some of Nelson and Jeanette's best love songs such as "One Kiss" and "Wanting You." Other musical numbers featured in the documentary include Eddy standards "The Mounties" and "Stouthearted Men" as well as the romantic favorite "Sweethearts."

The documentary touches briefly on Nelson and Jeanette's personal lives and their respective 27 year marriages ? hers to actor Gene Raymond (with whom she made the 1941 film Smilin' Through) and his to Ann Franklin. It also discusses the actors' different approaches to their work. Eddy considered himself primarily a singer, while Jeanette took the acting seriously. She felt it important to be a well-rounded performer who could "act well, singer better than most and dance a little."

I Married an Angel (1942), a fantasy-romance based on a Rodgers and Hart musical, was Nelson and Jeanette's final film together. After eight successful movies, the pair went their separate ways. Both stars continued to make pictures, but neither was ever as popular when paired with another co-star. Nelson also had his own radio show called The Electric Hour - the documentary features a clip with guest star Jeanette MacDonald. And in 1958, Nelson and Jeanette released a collection of songs that sold a million copies and earned gold record status.

Jeanette MacDonald died in 1965 and Nelson Eddy in 1967. But, as the documentary points out, both stars' fan clubs -- the Jeanette MacDonald International Fan Club and the Nelson Eddy Appreciation Society -- are still going strong.

Producer: Elayne Goldstein
Director: Michael Lorentz
Screenplay: Elayne Goldstein
Film Editing: Paul Thornton
Cast: Jane Powell (Host), Gene Raymond, Nelson Eddy, Jeanette MacDonald.
BW&C-57m. Closed captioning.

by Stephanie Thames

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