A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court/The Emporer Waltz [DVD]

Part of the Bing Crosby Collection, this double feature from Universal contains two classic musical comedies: A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and The Emperor Waltz. Each film is presented with a standard full-frame transfer and Dolby Digital Mono sound. Subtitles are available in Spanish and French. Closed captions are accessible.
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Synopsis

The Emperor Waltz
Set in pre-World War I Austria, this relatively sweet and cheerful film marks writer/director Billy Wilder's first and last try at musical comedy. Bing Crosby is Virgil H. Smith, a New Jersey-born phonograph salesman with a fox terrier mutt and orders to sell record players in Austria. Joan Fontaine is Johanna Augusta Franziska von Stoltzenberg-Stolzenberg, a countess with a bankrupt father and a black pedigree poodle that has just been picked to breed with the Austrian Emperor's (Richard Haydn) beloved black dog. Virgil and his fox terrier must convince the Emperor to buy a record player so that the product will gain favor amongst the Austrian people. Johanna must persuade her black poodle to mate with the Emperor's royal dog in order to ameliorate her father's financial woes. Virgil and Johanna have a love affair that overcomes class differences, opens up the phonograph market in Austria, and leaves the Emperor satisfied with a beautiful set of fox terrier puppies that could never have been the offspring of his own royal dog. ~ Aubry Anne D'Arminio, Rovi

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Though the Mark Twain original has been refashioned into a Bing Crosby vehicle, this 1949 musical adaptation of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is a lot more faithful to the Twain original than either of the two previous film versions. Crosby plays Hank Martin, a turn-of-the-century American mechanic who is conked on the noggin and awakens in sixth-century England. Captured by dull-witted Sir Sagramore (William Bendix), Hank is marched into the court of King Arthur (Cedric Hardwicke), where he uses his machine-age ingenuity to win the title of "Sir Boss." Even while incurring the wrath of the duplicitous wizard Merlin (Murvyn Vye), Hank woos and wins the lovely lady-in-waiting Alisande (Rhonda Fleming). Shocked by the appalling living conditions of the British peasants, Hank insists that King Arthur travel amongst the people in disguise so that he can experience their misery first-hand, and thereby bring about social reforms. Merlin schemes to use this opportunity to overthrow the king, but Hank foils the wizard's plans by pretending to demonstrate magical powers during a total eclipse. As a last-ditch effort to rid the kingdom of Hank, Merlin kidnaps Alisande and lures "Sir Boss" to certain doom. This scurrilous scheme segues into a much happier ending than one will find in the Twain novel. The expected "time displacement" routines are freshly handled by Crosby and company, while the songs are melodious and perfectly suited to the situations at hand. The film's Technicolor photography is another major asset. By present-day standards, the only drawback to A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court is that it goes on too long; even so, it is infinitely preferable to the recent remakes that have spewed forth from the Disney studio. Songs include: "Twixt Myself and Me," "Busy Doing Nothing," "Once and for Always", "When is Sometime," and "If You Stub Your Toe on the Moon." ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Bing Crosby
    Bing Crosby - Virgil Smith
  • Joan Fontaine
    Joan Fontaine - Johanna Franziska Von Stultzenberg
  • Roland Culver
    Roland Culver - Baron Holenia
  • Lucile Watson
    Lucile Watson - Princess
  • Richard Haydn
    Richard Haydn - Emperor Franz Josef

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