If you happen to be in a light opera mood, the screen rendition of "Naughty Marietta" now playing at Loew's State will please the ear and delight the eye. Jeannette MacDonald, lush and smiling, is at her best as the French princess who flees to New Orleans to escape a rich but gouty husband-elect. In the part of the mercenary Captain who conquers her heart in the New World, Nelson Eddy makes his first bow before a cinema audience which will no doubt place him among its stars. The new addition to the firmament has a pleasingly masculine personality and a good baritone voice. It is unfortunate, although not irreparable, that his speaking voice sounds like any one you might hear on the bus between Providence and New York.
The lyrics composed by Victor Herbert so many years ago stand the strain of repetition remarkably well. It is in the chorus songs of the lighter sort that the picture achieves its happiest moments. When the Princess tosses off a lilting melody in the music shop, or when she sails with the "casket brides" sent to bewive the men of New France, the effect is bright, colorful and joyfully inane. The damp scenes occur when things attempt to become serious. A Gilbert and Sullivan opus maintains a strain so consistently absurd that it is convincing; "Naughty Marietta" is only sporadically mad, and disturbs the audience by its sudden lapses into sanity. During the voyage to New Orleans, for instance, the cargo of maidens falls into the hands of pirates. These fellows, as villanous a crew as ever infested Penzance, leave their winsome booty strangely inviolate until it is wrested from their grasp by a troop of mercenary soldiers. In the fight which ensues, the comic spirit vanishes, and the bucaneers receive the cold steel for their delicacy. A trifle more humor might also be inserted with profit in the scene during which Miss MacDonald and Mr. Eddy tenderly resurrect the piece de resistance of the evening, "Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life."
Among the short features which adorn the bill are an excellent travelogue about the little Dutch province of Zeeland, and a Walt Disney animated cartoon depicting the animadventures of "The Hare and the Tortoise".