Love Me Tonight

Love Me Tonight is a 1932 American pre-Code musical comedy film produced and directed by Rouben Mamoulian, with music by Rodgers and Hart. It stars Maurice Chevalier as a tailor who poses as a nobleman and Jeanette MacDonald as a princess with whom he falls in love. It also stars Charles Ruggles as a penniless nobleman, along with Charles Butterworth and Myrna Loy as members of his family.

Love Me Tonight
Directed byRouben Mamoulian
Produced byRouben Mamoulian
Written bySamuel Hoffenstein
George Marion Jr.
Waldemar Young
StarringMaurice Chevalier
Jeanette MacDonald
Charles Ruggles
Charles Butterworth
Myrna Loy
Music byRichard Rodgers (music)
Lorenz Hart (lyrics)
CinematographyVictor Milner
Edited byRouben Mamoulian
William Shea
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
August 18, 1932 (1932-08-18)
Running time
104 minutes
CountryUnited States

The film is an adaptation by Samuel Hoffenstein, George Marion Jr. and Waldemar Young of the play Le Tailleur au château ("The tailor at the castle") by Paul Armont and Léopold Marchand. It features the classic Rodgers and Hart songs "Love Me Tonight", "Isn't it Romantic?", "Mimi", and "Lover". "Lover" is sung not romantically, as it often is in nightclubs, but comically, as MacDonald's character tries to control an unruly horse. The staging of "Isn't It Romantic?" was revolutionary for its time, combining both singing and film editing, as the song is passed from one singer (or group of singers) to another, all of whom are at different locales.

In his book Hollywood in the Thirties, John Baxter declared “If there is a better musical of the Thirties, one wonders what it can be.”[1] In 1990, Love Me Tonight was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".


The story describes an encounter between a Parisian tailor named Maurice Courtelin (Chevalier) and a family of local aristocrats. These include Vicomte Gilbert de Varèze (Ruggles), who owes Maurice a large amount of money for tailoring work; Gilbert's uncle the Duc d'Artelines (C. Aubrey Smith), the family patriarch; d'Artelines' man-hungry niece Valentine (Loy); and his other 22-year-old niece, Princesse Jeanette (MacDonald), who has been a widow for three years. D'Artelines has been unable to find Jeanette a new husband of suitable age and rank. The household also includes three aunts and an ineffectual suitor the Comte de Savignac (Butterworth).

Maurice custom-tailors clothing for de Varèze on credit, but the Vicomte's unpaid tailoring bills become intolerable, so Maurice travels to de Savignac's castle to collect the money owed to him. On the way, he has a confrontation with Princesse Jeanette. He immediately professes his love for her, but she haughtily rejects him.

When Maurice arrives at the castle, Gilbert introduces him as "Baron Courtelin" in order to hide the truth from the Comte. Maurice is fearful of this scheme at first, but changes his mind when he sees Jeanette. While staying at the castle, he arouses Valentine's desire, charms the rest of the family except for Jeanette, saves a deer's life during a hunt, and continues to woo Jeanette. The Comte de Savignac discovers that Maurice is a fake, but the Vicomte then claims that Maurice is a royal who is traveling incognito for security reasons. Finally, Jeanette succumbs to Maurice's charms, telling him "Whoever you are, whatever you are, wherever you are, I love you."

When Maurice criticizes Jeanette's tailor, the family confronts him for his rudeness, only to catch him and Jeanette alone with Jeanette partially undressed. Maurice explains that he is redesigning Jeanette's riding outfit, and he proves this by successfully altering it, but in the process he is forced to reveal his true identity. Despite her earlier promise, Jeanette recoils from him and runs to her room on hearing that he is a commoner. The entire household is outraged, and Maurice leaves. However, as a train carries him back to Paris, Jeanette struggles with her fears, finally realizes her mistake, and catches up to the train on horseback. When the engineer refuses to stop the train, she rides ahead and stands on the track. The train stops, Maurice jumps out, and the two lovers embrace as steam from the train envelops them.


Musical numbers[2]

  • That's the Song of Paree
  • Isn't It Romantic?
  • Lover
  • Mimi
  • A Woman Needs Something Like That
  • I'm an Apache
  • Love Me Tonight
  • The Son of a Gun Is Nothing But a Tailor
  • The Man for Me (dropped before the film was released)
  • Give Me Just a Moment (deleted before the film was completed)

American Film Institute Lists


Love Me Tonight was released through Kino International DVD on November 25, 2003. Extra features included screenplay excerpts of deleted scenes, audio commentary by Miles Kreuger (Founder and President of the Institute of the American Musical, Inc. and also a good friend of Rouben Mamoulian), production documents, censorship records, and performances from Maurice Chevalier (Louise) and Jeanette MacDonald (Love Me Tonight) from the 1932 short Hollywood on Parade. There are no existing pre-Code uncensored versions of the original film.


  1. The Films and Career of Maurice Chevalier (Gene Ringgold, Dewitt Bodeen, The Citadel Press, 1973), ISBN 0-8065-0354-8. P.110.
  2. Lyrics by Lorenz Hart, Love Me Tonight, Film, 1932
  3. AFI's 100 Years...100 Laughs Nominees
  4. AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees
  5. AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Ballot
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