Naughty Marietta (film)

Naughty Marietta is a 1935 film based on the operetta Naughty Marietta by Victor Herbert. Jeanette MacDonald stars as a princess who flees an arranged marriage. She sails for New Orleans and is rescued from pirates by Captain Richard Warrington (Nelson Eddy).

Naughty Marietta
Lobby card
Directed byRobert Z. Leonard
W. S. Van Dyke
Produced byHunt Stromberg
W. S. Van Dyke
Written byFrances Goodrich
Albert Hackett
John Lee Mahin
Rida Johnson Young (libretto)
StarringJeanette MacDonald
Nelson Eddy
Elsa Lanchester
Douglass Dumbrille
Music byDimitri Tiomkin
Victor Herbert
CinematographyWilliam H. Daniels
Edited byBlanche Sewell
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • March 8, 1935 (1935-03-08)
Running time
105 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,057,000[1]

Five of Victor Herbert's most famous songs come from the score of Naughty Marietta, with words by lyricist Rida Johnson Young:

  • "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life"
  • "Italian Street Song"
  • "Neath the Southern Moon"
  • "I'm Falling in Love With Someone"
  • "Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! (Along the Highway)"

Additional lyrics for several of Herbert's songs were penned for the film by Gus Kahn. The film was written by Frances Goodrich, Albert Hackett, John Lee Mahin and Rida Johnson Young.


To avoid an arranged marriage to Don Carlos, an elderly Spanish duke, Princess Marie masquerades as her uncle's former servant, Marietta, and escapes from France on a ship with casquette girls who are traveling to New Orleans to marry colonists. On board, Marietta befriends Julie.

En route, the women discuss what type of man they want to marry. "Marietta" shocks the other girls by stating that she does not intend to get married to anyone. Shortly after, the ship is boarded by pirates, who kill the entire crew and take the girls ashore.

After the pirates divide the loot, they turn their attention to the girls. Just then, singing is heard ("Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!"). The pirates extinguish their torches and fire to try to avoid detection, but Marietta takes one of the torches and runs towards the sound of the singing, crying out "help, help". Mercenaries rout the pirates and rescue the women.

The mercenaries' leader, Captain Richard Warrington, sings "Neath a Southern Moon" to Marietta. Despite his attraction to her, however, Warrington declares that he does not intend to get married.

Warrington and his men take the casquette girls to New Orleans, where they are welcomed by the governor. The women are housed in the convent while they get to know their potential husbands. When some men approach Marietta, she declares that she does not want to marry any of them. The governor feels that he has seen Marietta before in Paris, but she denies it. When she pretends to have a disreputable past, the governor orders a pair of soldiers to escort her away in disgrace. Warrington relieves them of their duty and finds her a place to stay, even paying the first month's rent. Though Marietta tries to rid herself of Warrington, he is undaunted. Just then, a group of gypsies stroll by, advertising their Marionette Theater. The gypsy leader, Rodolpho, has his daughter sing, and Warrington joins in ("Italian Street Song"). Stung by Warrington's remark that she might not be able to sing as well as the gypsy, Marietta surprises him by doing so beautifully. While he is distracted getting rid of three would-be suitors, she slips away.

The following day, Warrington discovers that Marietta is working at the Marionette Theater. When he visits her after the performance, he receives a warmer reception. Soon after, however, a large award is offered for information about her whereabouts. Warrington persuades her to trust him, and takes her away by boat. During this time together, they discover that they are falling in love with each other ("I'm Falling in Love with Someone"). Later, however, they are found by French soldiers, and her true identity is revealed. Her uncle and Don Carlos are expected on the next ship to take her back.

Marietta is to attend a ball arranged by the governor in her honor. Julie comes to see her; she tells Marietta that Warrington had been ordered to leave New Orleans that day, but intends to come to the ball. Her uncle warns her that "if Warrington attempted to see her again, he would be arrested for treason and shot". Marietta asks Julie to stop Warrington from coming, but they realize it is too late when they hear him and his men singing ("Tramp! Tramp! Tramp!").

When Warrington enters the ballroom, the governor tries to get him to leave in order to save his life. Marietta pretends to have been toying with him to deceive her uncle. As Warrington is leaving, Marietta sings "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life", joined by Warrington. The lovers then flee to the wild frontier.


Awards and honors

It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. Douglas Shearer won the Academy Award for Best Sound Recording for his work on the picture.[2] In 2003, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."

The film and a song were nominated for the following American Film Institute lists:

The song "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life" was used in Mel Brooks' 1974 comedy Young Frankenstein, with parts of the refrain sung by the characters played by Madeline Kahn and Teri Garr. Both "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life" and "Falling in Love With Someone" are used in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie.

In the 4th season episode "Archie The Gambler" of All In the Family, "Ah! Sweet Mystery of Life" is sung by cast members Jean Stapleton, Rob Reiner, and Sally Struthers. In the Woody Allen film Bananas, a political prisoner is tortured by being forced to listen to the score of Naughty Marietta over and over.

In the 1980 film Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!), Naughty Marietta is the in-flight movie on the plane where Charlie Brown, Linus Van Pelt, Peppermint Patty, Marcie, Snoopy and Woodstock take to England.

On a 1983 TV show Fantasy Island episode, a woman (Jayne Meadows) asks Mr. Roarke to have her daughter (Dorothy Hamill) sing in an operetta, which is Naughty Marietta.

Box office

The film grossed a total (domestic and foreign) of US$2,057,000 (equivalent to US$37,590,177 in 2018): $1,058,000 from the US and Canada and $999,000 elsewhere. It made a profit of $407,000.[1]


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. "The 8th Academy Awards (1936) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2011-08-07.
  3. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Passions Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  4. "AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
  5. "AFI's Greatest Movie Musicals Nominees" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-08-19.
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