"Ah, those gigalos! How do they do it?"
CodeMaster Talon | Orlando, FL United States | 08/12/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This odd little curio was recently restored by UCLA, and it looks pretty great, particularlly in the opening Venice scenes. The story concerns a young opera singer (Gloria Swanson) whose singing is technically excellent but souless because she has never truly been in love. She begins to notice a handsome young man (Melvyn Douglas, in the film's best performance) hanging around outside her window night after night. Inquiring after him, she learns to her shock that he is living with an aging diva who apparently supports him and who claims to be his "Aunt". After much thought, Swanson decides she might as well experience love with a gigalo than with anybody, so she goes after him. I actually mildly disliked this film up until the last three minutes, when suddenly a surprise twist almost completely redeemed it for me, and changed my perception of everything that had come before. Melvyn Douglas is wonderful in the role of the young man; he plays his scenes opposite Swanson with wit and flair. Swanson is solid, although a little old, in the role of the lovesick singer. The supporting cast is fine, and the gorgeous art-deco sets and beatiful cinematography of Venice are first-rate.That being said , "Tonight or Never" has some pretty big flaws, the biggest of which is its overt talkiness. Adapted from a hit play of the twenties, it never quite opens up, and there are long scenes taking place in one room that empahasize the staginess. For old movie fans, though, it is worth seeing at least once and for fans of classic actor Melvyn Douglas it's a must have."
(5 out of 5 stars)
"A BRILIANT RESTORATION of this early-talkie gem! Nary a scratch or a hiss ~ and a word of advice - DON'T play these oldies through a hi-tech sound system - you'll just be disappopinted - use your standard TV audio - you won't be disappoinetd.CONTRARY to an earlier review - Miss Swanson DOES NOT sing in this moving picture - she plays an Opera singer - without the required fire ["Tosca" being her tour-de force] and discovers ther equired passion through a liason with a dashing Mr. Melvin Douglas.MIS SWANSON has never been lovelier [or intentionally funnier! Great comedic timing under Mervin le Roy's baton] - as for the gowns! SPLENDID CREATIONS BY CHANEL! This alone is worth the admission price. Make up is slightly harsh - but that was the period - numerous generous closeups of the famous [and perfect] Swanson figure! They certainly 'had faces' back then! [AND there's nothign wrong with Miss Swanson's voice - check out 'Sunset Boulevard'!!!]Lots of tongue in cheek yuks [Miss Swanson vacates her hotel suite due to the 'noises' from the newly-weds next door]. This is a perfect product of "Movies - when Movies were Movies!"Boris Karloff cameos as a waiter ........"
Gloria Swanson as an opera singer who doesn't feel her songs
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 07/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Tonight or Never" is one of the ten best movies about opera ever made (There have been at least 10, right? There is "A Night at the Opera" and "The Great Caruso," and they go to an opera in "Pretty Woman." Does that count?). Gloria Swanson plays Nella Vago, a young singer who has a rather disappointing operatic debut in Venice. Her voice teacher, Rudig (Gerdinand Gottschalk), tell here that her voice lacks warmth and feeling. Meanwhile, a young man (Melyvn Douglas) is following her around everything. Nella returns home to Budapest, where she learns that a scout from the Metropolitan Opera has refused to sign her until she can truly feel her songs. Depressed, she goes to the apartment of the young man and makes love to him. The next night Nella stuns the audience with her emotional performance in "Tosca." But now she has to choose between a career and the man she loves (apparently having both does not occur to her).
Swanson is pretty good in this early talkie, especially since she is dressed up in stunning gowns by Coco Chanel, which may well be the best part of the movie. This 1931 film directed by Mervyn LeRoy was based on the play by Lili Hatvany and this would be a much better movie if it seemed less like a play. Two other interesting tidbits about "Tonight or Never": The cameraman was Gregg Toland, the famous cinematographer who worked with Orson Welles on "Citizen Kane" and the scene stealing waiter was Boris Karloff, in his first role after "Frankenstein.""