When You’re in Love is a romantic musical scripted and directed by long-time Frank Capra writer Robert Riskin and starring Grace Moore and Cary Grant. The enjoyable and fast-moving plot turns on high-spirits and high-notes. Louise Brooks makes an uncredited appearance as one of a number of dancers in a musical sequence near the end of the film.
The film proved especially popular, and was seen as a worthy successor to Moore’s triumph in the 1934 film One Night of Love, for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress. The Hollywood Reporter stated, “With a more substantial story than the last two Grace Moore vehicles, When You’re in Love is a signal triumph for the foremost diva of the screen, for Cary Grant who should soar to stardom as result of his performance in this, and for Robert Riskin, here notably handling his first directorial assignment.” The Hollywood Spectator added “It is unquestionably her best to-date and never has she appeared to better photographic advantage.” Rob Wagner, writing in Rob Wagner’s Script (a trade journal), was especially enthusiastic. “Here is the perfect combination – the director who writes his own script and delivers perfectly . . . Yes, I’m raving, … but because I’m a priest of beauty; and this picture thrilled me.”
The film was held over in New York City, as well as in Baltimore, Seattle, Detroit, New Orleans, Trenton, Tacoma, and Springfield (Massachusetts and Illinois). The same was true in Atlanta, Georgia. The Atlanta Constitution wrote that the film, the “best picture made by Grace Moore” was “now in its third week at the Rialto Theater, with the demand for seats showing no signs of easing.” The same was true in Hartford, Connecticut. The Hartford Courant wrote “Don’t look now, but Loew’s Theater appears to be starting another one of those record-breaking picture engagements with When You’re in Love.”
The great British novelist Graham Greene, writing in Night and Day, was tempered in his assessment. “Miss Moore, even in trousers singing Minnie the Moocher, can make the craziest comedy sensible and hygienic. In For You Alone, the story of an Australian singer who buys an American husband in Mexico so that she may re-enter the States where her permit has expired, Mr. Riskin, the author of Mr. Deeds and (let’s not forget) Lost Horizon, has tried his best to write crazily, but he comes up all the time against Miss Moore.”
For When You’re in Love, Brooks accepted work as an extra (its impossible to spot her) with the promise of the feminine lead in another Columbia film. To exploit the situation, the studio put out the word that Brooks was willing to do anything to get back into pictures. “Louise Brooks is certainly starting her come-back from the lowest rung of the ladder,” wrote Wood Soanes of the Oakland Tribune. “She is one of a hundred dancers in the ballet chorus of Grace Moore’s When You’re in Love.” Brooks kept her part of the bargain, but the studio did not. Brooks’ lead in a Columbia film never materialized.
“Austrian singer Louise Fuller, having overstayed her visa in the United States, goes to Mexico. Louise is concerned that she may never have the opportunity to perform with her elderly uncle, Walter Mitchell, who resides in the United States. A friend, Carlos, suggests Louise arrange a marriage with an American in order to gain citizenship, and then get a divorce. Louise meets Jimmy Hudson, an American artist who is staying in the same hotel. Jimmy falls in love with Louise after he hears her sing, but then he is arrested for having no money. Carlos suggests Louise marry Jimmy, and they walk through a short wedding ceremony and leave separately. Louise goes to New York to perform at the Symphony Hall. One day when Louise goes to her apartment, she finds Jimmy waiting to see her. Jimmy is not sure they should go through with their divorce and Louise makes him leave. The couple meets again, however, while Louise takes a break at the seashore. After a drive in the country, Louise and Jimmy are caught in a rain storm and drive to the home of Jimmy’s adopted parents, the Hamiltons. Late that evening, after they have kissed, Louise and Jimmy plan a trip to the White Mountains. In order to make the trip, Jimmy rejects an offer to design a mural, and Hank Miller, Louise’s publicist, reminds her of her scheduled performance with Uncle Walter. When the press swarms the Hamilton residence to report on the secret nuptials, Jimmy leaves angrily. On the day of the festival, Louise tells Hank that she plans to divorce Jimmy. Jimmy reads Louise’s statement in the newspaper, and during the first act of her performance, he arrives backstage. Jimmy presents Louise with the legal papers for divorce and leaves. Louise is too upset to continue her performance, and rumors circulate through the audience that she is injured. Jimmy hurries back to the theater and he and Louise make up. Louise offers to leave the show without returning onstage, but Jimmy insists that she sing “Our Song” to the audience.”
Production of the film took place at Columbia Pictures studios in Southern California between Oct 5 and December 20, 1936 . The musical pageant at the end of the film was likely shot in part at the Hollywood Bowl.
NOTES ON THE CAST & CREDITS:
The extensive list of uncredited actors in the film largely derives from IMDb.
Under its American title, When You’re in Love, documented screenings of the film took place in Australia, British Malaysia (Singapore), Canada, Dutch Guiana (Surinam), India, and The Netherlands. The film was also shown in the British Isles (England, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland, and Scotland) and Ireland under the title For You Alone. Elsewhere, this motion picture was known to have been shown under other-language titles including Sérénade (Belgium); Prelúdio de Amor (Brazil); Když vy jste v lásce (Czechoslovakia); Serenade (Denmark); Rakastuessa (Finland); Le Cœur en fête (France); Amanti di domani (Italy); Preludio de amor (Mexico); Als je verliefd bent (The Netherlands); Forelsket (Norway); Kiedy jestes zakochana (Poland); Prelúdio de Amor (Portugal); Preludio de amor (Spain); and När man är kär (Sweden).
The film is extant. It was released on VHS in the 1980s. On May 6, 2016 getTV aired a recently restored version of the film which ran 110 minutes.
RELATED ARTICLES & REVIEWS:
— “When You’re in Love Opens at the Music Hall” by Frank S. Nugent (New York Times, February 19, 1937)
— “Grace Moore Personality Glows in Her Latest Film” by Mae Tinee (Chicago Tribune, March 14, 1937)