The Firefly (1937)

Genres - Action, Musical, Romance, Spy Film  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Drama  |   Release Date - Sep 1, 1937 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 140 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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MGM pulled out all the stops for The Firefly, a lavish period operetta which star Jeanette McDonald saw as a chance to remind audiences that she could carry a movie without the assistance of her frequent co-star Nelson eddy. In Eddy's place is Allan Jones, and the change is most welcome. Jones possessed a sterling light tenor voice that was perfect for the Rudolf Friml score, and unlike Eddy, he could handle comedy. If he was still a bit wooden in spots, there was nevertheless a definite chemistry between him and MacDonald. For her part, the luscious soprano is in glorious voice, riding the crest of Friml's melodic waves like the champion she is and making the most of those thrilling high notes. She's a fine comedienne as well, and can handle dramatic chores with aplomb. That's a good thing, as it takes all her effort to make the idiotic screenplay of The Firefly into something watchable. The plotting comes across as ludicrous and the dialogue, even with an assist from Ogden Nash, lacks sufficient sparkle. Robert Z. Leonard directs for maximum impact in terms of the sets, the costumes and the overwhelming number of extras that fill the screen, but his pacing is uneven, and the film is simply too long. Watch it for the stars and the songs, especially Jones' "Donkey Serenade," which became forever associated with him.