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The Emperor Waltz (1948)

The Emperor Waltz (1948)

Bing CrosbyJoan FontaineRoland CulverLucile Watson
Billy Wilder


The Emperor Waltz (1948) is a English,German movie. Billy Wilder has directed this movie. Bing Crosby,Joan Fontaine,Roland Culver,Lucile Watson are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1948. The Emperor Waltz (1948) is considered one of the best Comedy,Musical,Romance movie in India and around the world.

Traveling Salesman Virgil Smith wants to sell his Grammophones in pre-WWI Austria. To enhance this, he especially wants to sell one to Emperor Franz Joseph, but at first the Austrian palace guards think he is carrying a bomb. He meets the Countess Johanna von Stolzenberg-Stolzenberg and after the usual misunderstandings, falls in love with her, this is especially assisted by his dog Buttons. But the relation between a Countess and an ordinary U.S. citizen cannot work in Austria, that is the Emperor's opinion. Is he wrong ?


The Emperor Waltz (1948) Reviews

  • A great vehicle for Crosby


    According to a new book out on Billy Wilder, Wilder had a much different film in mind than what emerged here. He was a contract director for Paramount at the time this was made with a few hits under his belt. And he was assigned to direct this film with Bing Crosby who was the biggest name in movies when this came out. Crosby had a whole different film in mind and what Bing wanted Paramount gave him at that point. Wilder wanted a biting satire on the Franz Joseph court and he also wanted a the killing of the puppies, the offspring of Crosby's and Joan Fontaine's dogs to be an allegory for genocide. Crosby knew what his audiences expected from him and he opted for a lighter treatment. The result was a second rate Billy Wilder movie, but a first class Bing Crosby film. Unlike in the thirties when Paramount just depended on Crosby's personality to put over a film, they gave this one the full A treatment. The outdoor sequences were shot in the Canadian Rockies and they serve as a great Alpine background. Though its muted, Wilder still gets some of his cynical point of view into Crosby's phonograph salesman who woos a member of Viennese royalty played by Joan Fontaine. Roland Culver who is Fontaine's father is also pretty good as the impoverished count who is quite willing to sell his title in marriage to anyone who can afford him. Great vehicle for the winning Crosby personality.

  • An underrated gem, a true hidden treasure


    "The Emperor Waltz" is an underrated jewel, a true hidden treasure by the great Billy Wilder. The basic idea of the movie is authentic comic genius, Wilder's trade-mark superb wit: two parallel funny love stories, a canine one, of a dog with a blitch, and a human one, of the straightforward American guy Virgil (Bing Crosby) with the haughty Austrian Countess Johanna Augusta Franziska (Joan Fontaine), the respective masters of the pets. Virgil is a commercial traveller: his stubborn attempts to sell gramophones to (no less a person than) the Emperor Franz-Josef are irresistibly comic. And then the Countess' blitch is the predestined partner of the Emperor's dog, and so she needs to be treated with extreme care (including sessions of psychoanalysis): all the hopes of the over-noble but impoverished family of the Holena von Shwartzemberg-Shwartzemberg lie in her paws... But it's all too funny to be described: see the movie and enjoy yourself. The funny, gently mocking reconstruction of the Austrian Court and of its rituals at the beginning of the 20th century is stunning. The delightful subtleties are uncountable: see the gentry play lawn-tennis, and the footmen in white gloves who present the tennis-balls on a silver tray... All the actors make an excellent job, and there are no words to praise enough Richard Haydn as Emperor Franz-Josef. The cinematography, in bright, cheerful colors, is accurate and evocative. The costumes and the locations are magnificent. The film was intended to be a musical: however, we find in it just a pair of nice songs and a rather short ballet. I consider it a further merit of the movie: I'm not much fond of musicals. I highly recommend "The Emperor Waltz", a praiseworthy issue of Wilder's magic wit and talent.

  • Piffle, but very pretty


    It would be hard to find two consecutive feature films by a director of significance as different from one another as "The Lost Weekend" and "The Emperor Waltz", the former as hysterically hard hitting as anything Hollywood produced in the 'forties, the latter pure schmaltzy escapism. The first and most obvious conclusion is that Billy Wilder, as part of his contract to Paramount, was doing as he was told in producing a piece of box office confectionery. And yet there is no escaping the credits which bill the script as being by Wilder himself and Charles Brackett. So he must have known what he was doing. Superficially it looks and sounds like a nostalgic recreation of Wilder's home country, Austria, during a golden period before the First World War when the only thing to unsettle the court of the Emperor Franz Joseph was the entry of an itinerant American phonograph salesman and his mongrel dog. It is said that it might have been a different film but for the fact that Wilder had to accept Bing Crosby for the leading role and that he had to cater for the audience expectations of one of the most popular stars of the day, hence the odd song, though scarcely enough to make it a musical in the fully accepted sense. There is the odd witty line such as Franz Joseph's remark that were he to shave off his whiskers it would create consternation in changing his image on the country's currency. Apart from this it is hard to find much in the way of Wilder's characteristically cracking dialogue. The parallel romance between Bing and a countess and their dogs Buttons and Sheherazade rather palls after a while but the pretty visuals with the Canadian Rockies substituting for the Austrian Tyrol have some compensations. Bing plays his part with star flair although the same can hardly be said of Joan Fontaine as the countess. Aside from the virtue of a gorgeous hair-do, she acts with a stilted woodenness that is light years away from her work in "Rebecca" and "Jane Eyre". Still there is generally something engaging to catch the eye including one wonderfully kitschy moment when all the lasses from a village where violins are made play their instruments. When Wilder made "The Emperor Waltz" he already had to his credit that immortal film noir "Double Indemnity". 1947/48 must have been a particularly bad period for him as he followed his Austrian romance with easily his worst effort, "A Foreign Affair", a third-rate "Ninotchka" tale set in postwar Berlin with Jean Arthur, an otherwise good actress, hardly a match for Garbo. For all its faults "The Emperor Waltz" is infinitely more enjoyable though there is little indication of the talent that was to produce "Some Like It Hot", "The Apartment" and "Kiss Me, Stupid".

  • The mongrel and the mutt


    Billy Wilder had never forgotten his native country and Bing Crosby could have been the director himself using a time machine to visit Frances -Josef. An old old emperor soon to plunge his country into WW1.An old emperor who had lost his wife (the famous Sissi)and his only son (it's no coincidence if in "Sunset Blvd" Von Stroheim -who claimed to be the son of one of the empress's lady in waiting- was called MAX -name of the emperor's brother,killed by the Mexicans - VON MAYERLING -the place where the Kronprinz died.) But "Waltz" is the only work by the great director which takes place in Austria;a chocolate box Austria ,not very different from that depicted by Ernest Marischka' s "Sissi saga" (aka "forever my love" )complete with yodeling and Tirolians in their folk costumes . In several respects ,it is a "political movie" :American is the land of democracy where there are supposedly no more classes ,and where a prince can marry a shepherd girl;it's the land of progress which provides the archaic Austria with gramophones .(One should notice that the emperor was already using a phonograph before 1898,for her wife bought "rollers" for him on the eve of her death);it's the land where you can call an emperor "the old boy" ;when his work became subtler,Wilder 's bite did not spare the Americans (see" one two three" or "Avanti") "Waltz" is twice a love story:love between an American who makes 25 dollars a week and a chic countess;between two dogs ,a mongrel and a lady dog with a pedigree (some kind of "Lady and the tramp" so to speak) Frances -Josef may seem reluctant but at the time he had already seen worse;his nephew ,Francis Ferdinand ,the new Kronprinz ,had married an obscure countess Sophie Chotek,and one of his sisters-in-law was an actress !

  • The Mystery of "The Emperor Waltz"


    The mystery is that it took me so long to succumb to the charms of this musical. There are few writer/directors I admire more than Billy Wilder and few entertainers I enjoy more than Bing Crosby. I don't know what I expected when they got together, but I guess it wasn't "The Emperor Waltz". Initial disappointment was erased on a recent viewing. Our story is set in the long ago Austria of Emperor Franz Josef and concerns the love affair between a haughty widowed countess (Joan Fontaine) and a brash American salesman (Crosby). Ditto her purebred poodle and his mutt. There is a lot of talk about class differences and bloodlines and, through the years, this has been my major gripe with the script. Perhaps at the time in the late 40s Bracket and Wilder felt the need to make some sort of a statement, but it's a tad heavy handed and detracts from the fun - and there is fun. The musical numbers are presented wittily. For "In Dreams I Kiss Your Hand" Bing sings, then brings in a piano, then two policemen pick up violins and then the domestic staff starts to dance. When our countess swoons after a few boo-boo-boo's, you know it's all in fun. The uninspired humorist often remarks when watching a musical "where did the orchestra come from?". In the enchanting "The Kiss in Your Eyes", there is no need to ask as an entire village puts bow to string to accompany this most stirring of love songs. The Technicolor filming is sumptuous and truly befitting the operetta-like sensibility of the movie. Joan Fontaine is every inch the royal lady, looking lovely in her costumes and easily handling the comic and dramatic portions of the script. A nice transition from her young, vulnerable characterizations to the more confident females she portrayed in the 50s. Early in the film Bing Crosby tends to shout his way through Virgil, but his character is a lone fish out of water with no kibitzing pal such as a Hope or Fitzgerald. Once he starts to sing - well, like the Countess, it is easy to fall for the go-getting salesman. Lucile Watson is a delight as a dowager princess with a penchant for storytelling and for our Countess' profligate father played in fine style by Roland Culver. The top performance comes from Richard Hadyn as Emperor F-J himself. Unrecognizable under the whiskers and make-up, and foregoing his famous nasally precise delivery, Mr. Hadyn gives us a very interesting Franz-Josef. A petulant, funny, irritating, thoughtful and memorable character. You will pinch yourself to remind you of who you are watching. I heartily recommend this musical of much charm. Mystery solved.


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