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The Flame of New Orleans

(1941 b 78')

En: 6 Ed: 5

Refugee René Clair directed this romantic comedy about a woman who agrees to marry a banker but decides to run off with a sailor.

A century ago a countess disappeared in New Orleans, leaving a wedding dress in the river. At the opera banker Charles Giraud (Roland Young) sees Claire Ledoux (Marlene Dietrich) faint and goes to her. Charles sends his servant William to her maid Clementine (Theresa Harris) and arranges to meet Claire in the park. To get his monkey back Robert Latour (Bruce Cabot) overturns Claire's carriage. She passes by Charles, but he calls on her with flowers. Claire goes out with Charles. She sees the monkey and Robert on a tightrope, and Charles challenges him to a duel. Robert suggests a game with knives, but Claire stops it. Robert invites her to his boat and makes his crew clean it up. Charles calls on Claire and proposes marriage. She says yes. Clementine tells Robert that Claire is not coming. Claire plays piano for Charles and his relatives. When Robert arrives, Claire apologizes and says good-night. Robert sees Charles, but Claire tells Robert to stay a sailor.

Claire gets a diamond necklace from Charles. At a reception Zolotov (Mischa Auer) remembers Claire from St. Petersburg. She sings "The Heart of Spring Is May." Charles challenges Zolotov, who says that Claire faints. When Charles calls on Claire, she pretends to be her mean cousin Lilly before coming back and appearing as herself. She says her cousin was in St. Petersburg. Charles demands to see her, or they can't marry. Clementine tells Charles that Lilly is at the Oyster Bay Café. Charles and his brother-in-law (Melville Cooper) take Zolotov to identify her. Lilly recalls Zolotov. Robert sees her and asks if Claire is marrying Charles. Robert says he is in love with Claire. Lilly kisses Robert and leaves. Charles tells Robert his $150 debt is overdue and tells him to take Lilly away. They follow her to Claire's house, and Robert climbs up to the window, realizing Lilly is Claire and telling Charles he will take her away. Charles gets a carriage as Lilly comes out. Robert puts her in the carriage. Charles tells Lilly not to come back and gives Robert money. Robert carries her onto his boat. He says she is free to go, and he hopes to pay Claire back. Robert asks why she kissed him and kisses her.

In the morning Claire leaves Robert's boat. In her wedding dress Claire meets her new relatives. At her wedding to Charles she looks at Robert and then faints. While Charles recovers, Claire escapes to Robert's boat and throws her wedding dress in the river.

When Claire realizes how boring her life would be with Charles and his family, she finds a way to run off with the sailor who loves her. While Nazis were dominating Europe, René Clair and Dietrich were in America making this romantic movie.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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