best film: Love Me Tonight is an underrated all-time musical and a masterpiece. The technical and stylistic innovations (stopping to sing instead of putting musical scenes on a stage like Cabaret or The Jazz Singer) aside it’s a fantastic narrative, an entertaining and likable film, and splendidly acted. Chevalier did some great work with Lubitsch and Gigi went from a film that shouldn’t have won best picture to now being a film that is woefully UNDERRATED. Still, it’s Love Me Tonight easily as his best film.

best performance:  Love Me Tonight. Rarely has an actor been as playful, funny and charismatic as Chevalier is in Love Me Tonight. He bowls you over like few actors can do in this respect (Newman, Tom Hanks, Jimmy Stewart are all just about impossible not to like).

stylistic innovations/traits: Chevalier was no chameleon. He basically played himself (or the film version of himself) in every film but he did so wonderfully and he’s a great character- a type—so much so that they copied the Lumiere character from Beauty and the Beast off of him. Chevalier is natural progression of Al Jolson. He’s not the musician Jolson is/was but he’s a far stronger actor (he’s a stronger actor than Astaire and Kelly and a more talented musician than some actors that try their hand at singing).  From a filmography standpoint he has the starring/winning role in a masterpiece (love me tonight), a great pairing with auteur (four films with Lubitsch—such style and class between the two of them) and the comeback film (in an Oscar winner for best picture) 20 years later to remind us all how great he is (Gigi).

directors worked with:  The key partnership is Lubitsch (4). I don’t associate the two immediately like some others because these don’t happen to be Lubitsch’s best work necessarily but they’re all solid and give both the auteur and actor here a great depth of filmography. Chevalier also worked once with Wilder and Minnelli

Top 5 Performances:

  1. Love Me Tonight
  2. The Love Parade
  3. One Hour With You
  4. The Smiling Lieutenant
  5. Gigi

Archiveable films

1929- The Love Parade
1931- The Smiling Lieutenant
1932- Love Me Tonight
1932- One Hour With You
1934- The Merry Widow
1957- Love in the Afternoon
1958- Gigi
1961- Fanny