A discarded silk tophat becomes the focus of a struggle between a washed-up stage magician and a group of schoolchildren after it magically brings a snowman to life. Realizing that newly-living Frosty will melt in spring unless he takes refuge in a colder climate, Frosty and a young girl who he befriends stow away on a freight train headed for the north pole. Little do they know that the magician is following them, and he wants his hat back. This animated short is based on the popular Christmas song of the same name.
Tallulah Bankhead ... Catherine the Great
Charles Coburn ... Chancellor Nicolai Iiyitch
Anne Baxter ... Countess Anna Jaschikoff
William Eythe ... Lt. Alexei Chernoff
Vincent Price ... Marquis de Fleury
Mischa Auer ... Capt. Sukov
Sig Ruman ... Gen. Ronsky
Vladimir Sokoloff ... Malakoff
Mikhail Rasumny ... Drunken general
I saw this movie over 30 years ago on late night television. I was expecting a dry costume drama, but ended up laughing my head off at one of the classiest comedies I have ever seen. And unfortunately that was it. I have never seen it again, on TV or on video. In fact I don't think it has ever been released on video. Talullah's film appearances were few, and this showed her at her forte, comedy.
Granted, she was also one of the great dramatic actresses of her day (her performance in The Little Foxes on Broadway is considered to be one of the finest of the 20th century), but more marketable actresses always won out over her in Hollywood (she never forgave Bette Davis for stealing the Foxes role from her).
When can a larger audience expect to see this comic gem? (and when can I find out if my childhood memories can stand up to my adult tastes?)
In my opinion, It is one of the funniest films ever made. Ernst Lubitsch couldn't direct the film completely, because of his health problems. So Otto Preminger was hired to direct rest of the shooting. As you all know, A Royal Scandal (1945) is a remake of Ernst Lubitsch's Forbidden Paradise.
According to the Book "Romantic Comedy in Hollywood from Lubitsch to Sturges", Ernst Lubitsch directed the rehearsals of the film. Ernst Lubitsch prepared the script of this film with Edwin Justus Mayer. With Ernst Lubitsch, Edwin Justus Mayer also wrote the screenplay for To be or not to be (1942).
It is a great film to watch, because of Great Script by Edwin Justus Mayer, Great Performances from Tallulah Bankhead, Charles Coburn, and Anne Baxter. Otto Preminger directed the film on Lubitsch's instructions. Vincent Price played French Ambassador. He played his part brilliantly.
What I liked mostly about this film was Sig Ruman. He played General Ronsky in this film. I thought his performance was brilliant. Sig Ruman also worked with Lubitsch in films like Ninotchka, That uncertain feeling, and To be or not to be. Sig Ruman played Colonel Ehrhardt in To be or not to be (1942). We also see Henry Victor playing one of Russian generals with General Ronsky in this film. His role in this film is a small role. Henry Victor played Captain Schultz in Ernst Lubitsch's To be or not to be (1942).
I thought William Eythe's performance was good. Lubitsch touch is present in the film. Mikhail Rasumny played a drunken general. In the middle of the film, he asks "Fellows, Why are we laughing?" When I heard that, I started laughing. I found that scene very funny. Ernst Lubitsch's films makes us laugh and think at the same time. That's what I felt when I saw Lubitsch's films. Watch this film at least twice. Afterall, this is a film from Ernst Lubtisch. I rate the film 10 out of 10.
The history of this film has been documented well,and its failure, at the time, has taken its toll on its reputation. Perhaps, it was made at the wrong time; perhaps Tallulah Bankhead was not the 'darling' of the film critics as she had been by theater critics; perhaps it was an easy target because Lubitsch had been ill and Peminger substituted - a simple target to call a film 'not of a piece'. I do have a copy of it, though, and, today, it stands as a comedy of wit, charm, and delicious mischief. Bankhead is 'mahvelous' playing it to the hilt and offering superb takes on all of her lines. Her reaction shots are among the funniest yet capture on film. No, it is not Catherine -- it is Tallulah--but this is a satirical romp and not meant to be faithful to Russian history. William Eythe, forever underrated, is perfection.A stellar comedic force (he was equally fine in more serious roles e.g. TheHouse on 92nd Street). Coburn is in the right frame of mind and action; Anne Baxter does not quite capture the spirit of the madness, but she is not bad. It is probably insane to think that 'A Royal Scandal' finally can get the credit it deserved. But it is a tasty and wonderful cinematic morsel to enjoy again and again.
The script of this film was written and prepared under Ernst Lubitsch, and he was the original director of this film. But he became ill during shooting, so Lubitsch hired Otto Preminger to do the rest of the shooting.
According to Book "Ernst Lubitsch and Samson Raphaelson: A Study in Collaboration," Ernst Lubitsch directed the rehearsals of this film.
Ernst Lubitsch worked with Edwin Justus Mayer in the scripting process. Edwin Justus Mayer worked with Lubitsch before in _"To Be or Not to Be" (1942)_.