Tarantella (film)

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German title tarantella
Original title The Firefly
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1937
length 130 minutes
Director Robert Z. Leonard
script Frances Goodrich
Albert Hackett , Ogden Nash
production Hunt Stromberg
for MGM
music Rudolf Friml
camera Oliver T. Marsh
cut Robert Kern

Tarantella (OT: The Firefly ) is an American film operetta from 1937 and the first purely solo project by Jeanette MacDonald since moving to MGM in mid-1933. The film was directed by Robert Z. Leonard . Tarantella only took over the songs from the operetta The Firefly by Rudolf Friml and Otto Harbach , but combined them with a completely new plot.


In 1808 is Ferdinand VII. Of Napoleon forced to renounce to the Spanish throne. Nina Maria, known throughout Madrid as "The Firefly", is appalled by the developments and decides to work against the French, the patriot she is. She becomes a spy in the service of the English. After the victorious battle of Vitoria in 1813, Nina can finally sink into the arms of her lover Don Diego after her romance had to endure numerous rehearsals in previous years.


Jeanette MacDonald formed a popular screen couple with Nelson Eddy since 1935 , whose last film together, Maienzeit, was one of the most successful MGM productions to date. However, MacDonald grew tired of always being Eddy's partner and asked for solo performances. Tarantella stayed true to the genre of operetta to which the actress owed her popularity, but gave her a much more dramatic background story than the rather shallow love banter of her previous appearances. The film takes its name in the original as well as the songs from the operetta The Firefly , which Rudolf Friml and Otto Harbach successfully brought to the stage in 1912. However, nothing has been preserved from the original story of a young orphan who becomes a celebrated singer in Italy. Instead, a new framework story was written that takes place in the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars .

Although Jeanette MacDonald's name stands alone above the title, during the filming she insisted that her partner Allan Jones should be treated as a co-star and that in the end he could be seen in significantly more scenes than planned. The film's disappointingly low profit in the end convinced the studio to bring MacDonald and Eddy back in front of the camera. In the end, however, the golden west fell far short of the high expectations financially.

Theatrical release

With a production cost of $ 1,495,000, Tarantella was an above average expensive production and matched the prestige of Jeanette MacDonald in the studio at the time. In the USA, the film was only moderately successful and at $ 1,244,000, a good but not a top value. Another US $ 1,430,000 came in from abroad, resulting in a cumulative total of US $ 2,674,000. In the end, however, the studio only made a meager profit of $ 163,000.


As expected by the fans, the film was sung often and extensively. The songs are penned by Rudolf Friml (music) and Otto Harbach (text).

  • Love Is Like a Firefly
  • Danse Jeanette
  • The Donkey Serenade
  • Sympathy
  • A woman's kiss
  • Giannina Mia
  • He Who Loves And Runs Away
  • When a Maid Comes Knocking At Your Heart
  • I love you Don Diego
  • Para La Salud

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