So how does this week’s Quiz subject, Merle Oberon, figure into the question posed last Friday of what Ann Sothern, Carmen Miranda and Corinne Calvet have in common?
Well, the poster above is a clue. Merle costarred with Maurice Chevalier and Sothern in the 1935 musical comedy, Folies Bergere.
Note that the poster is Spanish. In Europe Merle received second billing, but in America, where she was less known at the time, Merle took third billing, after Sothern.
The film is notable because it was the last film released by Twentieth Century Pictures, before it became 20th Century-Fox, and because it was Chevalier’s last Hollywood film before he returned to France and stayed there through World War II. Of course he returned to America in the 1950s for a second successful run in the movies.
In Folies Bergere he plays a nightclub performer who impersonates a wealthy playboy/businessman. His girlfriend (Sothern, pictured below) is extremely jealous of his flirtations with the playboy’s wife (Oberon).
Chevalier, of course, doubles as both the entertainer and the businessman. It was quintessential Chevalier. He introduced the song, “Valentine,” which became one of his standards.
Plot sound familiar? It was remade — twice.
And Ann Sothern’s role was later played by the fiery Miranda and the French femme fatale Calvet. But more on that tomorrow.