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MGM silent. 70 minutes.
US release: 2/11/28.
Cast: Joan Crawford (as "Rose-Marie"), James Murray, House Peters, Creighton Hale, Gibson Gowland, Polly Moran, Lionel Belmore, William Orlamond, Gertrude Astor, Ralph Yearsley, Swen Hugo Borg, Harry Gribbon.
Credits: From the operetta by Otto Harbach and Oscar Hammerstein II. (Opened on the NYC stage 9/2/24, ran 557 performances.) Scenario: Lucien Hubbard. Director: Lucien Hubbard. Camera: John Arnold. Art Direction: Richard Day, Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design: David Cox. Editor: Carl Pierson.
Plot Summary: This first version of the Rudolf Friml operetta Rose-Marie had no music, but it did have Joan Crawford in the title role. More faithful to its source than the 1936 Nelson Eddy-Jeanette McDonald remake, the 1928 film finds the heroine torn between her love for Mountie House Peters and her loyalty to her outlaw brother James Murray. When Peters is forced to shoot and kill Murray, it looks like curtains for his romance with the heroine. But after a reel or so of histrionics, the girl forgives Peters for doing his duty. The final version of Rose-Marie (at least to date) was lensed in 1954, with Ann Blyth and Howard Keel. Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Edgar Waite in the Los Angeles Examiner (1928):
Rose-Marie, divested of the musical comedy flavor in which it was last seen..., turns out to be a drama with quite a lot of suspense....Miss Crawford, who looks astonishingly like Pauline Frederick, does rather a fine piece of work. There is depth to her portrayal, though once or twice she may oversentimentalize.
J.G. in the St. Paul Pioneer Press (1928):
Joan Crawford, one of the most admired of the new leading women, has the title role. This is about the first time that she has been permitted to be anything but statuesque and patrician. She changes her character with a vengeance, flinging herself fiercely into the wildcat passions of the role of the French Canadian girl and also into the purring cutenesses it calls for. She is pleasant to look at in both phases.
Exciting fights and daring escapes. An excellent cast with Joan Crawford a charming Rose-Marie, the daughter of the northern icebound country, who warms the hearts of all the men around her....It's a little complicated but offers suspense.
Mordaunt Hall in the New York Times (February 13, 1928):
Filming a musical comedy narrative seldom results in any marked success, and the present transcription of "Rose-Marie," now on view at the Capitol, is no exception to the rule. The praiseworthy passages of this effort are more than offset by the muddled story, the ridiculous suspicions and the tedious and frequently absurd incidents. Rose-Marie may be a very charming girl with more than her share of good looks, but there are times when she seems to be somewhat heartless. This is particularly so when Etienne, the husband whom she is forced to marry, is presumed to be dying. Rose-Marie is about as anxious regarding his condition as if the poor chap had only a bad cold, whereas the melodramatic title writer has taken the trouble to let it be known that Etienne is suffering from a broken back. Hence one has the opportunity of perceiving Rose-Marie listening to James's protestations of love while Etienne is getting nearer and nearer his end.
In this yarn of the Canadian backwoods Rose-Marie's accent makes her say "beeg," "keel" and "Jeem." The recital commences with peace, and then James, a husky trapper or voyageur, appears upon the scene and forthwith is smitten by Rose-Marie's lovely presence. He is persistent in his embraces, and soon Rose-Marie is fearful, and she says:
"Kind God, protect me."
Most of this picture, however, is devoted to showing how this young woman protects James, who, immediately after acknowledging that he is desperately in love with Rose- Marie, discovers that he is suspected of slaughtering an Indian. The handsome Irish Sergeant of the Royal Mounted Police, himself an ardent admirer of Rose-Marie, is therefore forced to go after his man.
Lucien Hubbard, director of this subject, has some queer notions of suspense. In one spot the real murderer pops up with handcuffs locked on one wrist. Most stupidly, the Sergeant has left his revolver on a chair and the murderer shows a decided keenness to gain possession of the weapon as he looks through a window of the shack. Just as he is about to snatch at the pistol, the Sergeant takes it out of the holster to use the butt as a hammer. Then the Sergeant replaces the weapon and you have the result in a few moments—bullets flying, the murderer having the handcuffs unlocked and a number of equally impossible-happenings.
Joan Crawford is most prepossesing as Rose-Marie, but she seems like a girl who flings the past quickly behind her, especially when James holds her in his arms. James Murray is fairly competent as the hero, but the best performances are delivered by Creighton Hale as Etienne and House Peters as the Sergeant.
If you've seen Rose-Marie and would like to share your review here, please e-mail me. Include, if you like, a picture of yourself to accompany your review, as well as a star-rating (with 5 stars the best) and any of your favorite lines from the film.
The Best of Everything