“About as well as a production of Goodnight Lewisham would be going in Vienna”*

*Eric Maschwitz, replying to an old friend he encountered in the Strand one day. Friend had asked how Maschwitz’s production of the musical “Goodnight Vienna”, in Lewisham, was going.

From Wikipedia:

“Goodnight, Vienna is a 1932 British musical film directed by Herbert Wilcox and starring Jack Buchanan, Anna Neagle and Gina Malo. Two lovers in Vienna are separated by the First World War, but are later reunited.

Based on a radio operetta written by Eric Maschwitz, it features the song “Good-night, Vienna”. Wilcox reportedly cast Neagle, whom he would later marry and direct in many films, after discovering her by chance in a stage show.

Max is an Austrian officer in the army and son of a highly placed general. His father wants him to marry a Countess but he has fallen in love with Vicki. Attending a party given in his honour, they are informed that war has broken out. Max writes a note to Vicki and goes off to war. Unfortunately the note is lost. Some time after the war, Max is just a shoe shop assistant while Vicki is now a famous singer. They meet and at first she snubs him but then falls in love with him again.

Herbert Wilcox was played the score by Eric Maschwitz and George Posford. He liked it and bought the rights. Within a week Wilcox persuaded Jack Buchanan to play the lead. He wanted Lea Seidl or Evelyn Lane to play the female lead but neither was available. He went to tell Buchanan that the film was going to be postponed; Buchanan was playing in a show Stand Up and Sing with Anna Neagle. Wilcox was impressed by Neagle and cast her at a fee of £150. The film was shot in the three weeks before Buchanan had to leave to appear in Stand Up and Sing at Liverpool. During the making of the film, Wilcox and Neagle fell in love.

The film was Wilcox’s most commercially successful until that time.

In the opening scene of the Jeeves and Wooster episode The Purity of the Turf, Hugh Laurie, in the character of Bertie Wooster, sings fragments of the film’s title song.”

“The Wodehouse scholar Norman Murphy believes George Grossmith Jr. to have been the inspiration for the character of Bertie Wooster.” (Wikipedia)

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