Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Maytime (1937)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Maytime (1937)

In director Robert Z. Leonard's romantic operetta - the third of MGM's popular and profitable Jeanette MacDonald-Nelson Eddy films, about a forbidden love and its fatal consequences:

  • the opening: an idyllic small-town May Day country fair sequence, introducing the character of elderly Miss Morrison (Jeanette MacDonald), who was earlier famous as international opera diva Marcia Mornay - before she related - in flashback - her passionless marriage to her voice tutor/manager, and her real love affair with a penniless American singer
  • the words of American baritone Paul Allison (Nelson Eddy) to Marcia upon first meeting her in a Parisian Latin Quarter bistro: ("Well, don't you realize how wonderful it is? You've been sent from heaven, I've been starved, starved for the sound of one good clean healthy American voice, and then suddenly, you come into my life. Not only an American voice, not only an American woman, but a beautiful, adorable, glamorous, raidant, indescribable vision of perfected loveliness! Shake!") - thrilled to meet a fellow American, he invited her to a lunch-date of Virginia ham and eggs ("I will cook your ham and eggs!") and they had a fun time together
  • the heartbreaking sequence at a Maytime festival when Marcia admitted to Paul that she was marrying her long-time tutor Nicolai Nazaroff (John Barrymore), although she was reluctant because it was a loveless pairing: ("I'm going to marry him. Oh Paul, Paul, it shouldn't have happened. I shouldn't have let it happen, but well, it was such fun, it was so exciting, and I - I kept hoping that it would end like that and not like this. Can you forgive me?...Paul, I want you to know this. I'm not just marrying him because he's good and kind and because he needs me. There are stronger ties than that. You see, everything I have, everything I am, I owe to him. Even being here today, even meeting you the other night. He's made all those things possible for me, all of them. When I first met him, I was nothing. Nobody believed in me. I even stopped believing in myself. And yet he gave up everything, his whole career, all his other pupils, just so he could guide me to success. That was four years ago. In all that time, he's, he never stopped believing in me. In all that time, he's never once broken a promise, nor failed me. It's why I can't fail him now, Paul, even, even for something I want far more"); Paul realized he was "too late" in meeting her; she encouraged them: ("Please Paul, let's, let's just remember this day") - he agreed: ("We will Marcia. One day to last us all the rest of our lives...I'll always love you, dear") - she added: ("And I'll always remember you and your song") - a segue to their beautiful duet of "Will You Remember?"
  • the Metropolitan Opera scene in New York seven years later, as the voices of the two star-crossed lovers, Paul and married operatic singer Marcia, played opposite each other on the stage during a spectacular rendition of the love duet Czaritza; it rose to a passionate crescendo as her jealous husband Nicolai looked on from the audience; as the two singers embraced and kissed during the opera's thunderous applause, she begged him: ("Oh, don't ever leave me again, ever"), and he vowed: ("You're not going back to him. I'm taking you away tonight")
  • the sequence of Marcia's confession of her love for Paul to her husband, and her request for a divorce: ("Nothing could have stopped this happening, Nicolai. I never realized what a terrible mistake I made when I left him. I, I thought then that I had to keep my promise to you after all you'd done for me. I tried to forget him. I tried to put him out of my mind, but was never able to. And now, tonight, I realize that I love you more than anything else in life, and I can't go on living without him")
  • the scene of Paul's death in his apartment, when enraged Nicolai shot him, and he died in Marcia's arms with his final dying words: ("That day did last me all of my life. Don't cry, Marcia. You won't be lonely. I'll be close always")
  • the magnificent, bittersweet and sentimental closing scene of the two unrequited lovers reunited in death, when Marcia peacefully passed away in her home's garden, and her forever-youthful spiritual image rose from her body to meet and reunite with Paul's spirit singing to her within the garden gate with a reprise of their duet together: ("Sweetheart, Sweetheart, Sweetheart") "Will You Remember?": ("Sweetheart, Sweetheart, Sweetheart, Though our paths may sever, To life's last faint ember, we will remember, Springtime, love time, May"); and the concluding images of the spirits of both Paul and Marcia in eternity on a path showered with flower blossoms
Paul and Marcia's Spirits - Reunited in Death

Marcia Mornay with Tutor and Fiancee Nicolai Nazaroff

The Love Affair Between Paul and Marcia

Paul's Death After Being Shot by Nazaroff

Marcia Passing Away in Her Garden


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