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Old Embers

Old Embers for New Torches: Rose-Marie
By Fritz Spencer
Aug 30, 2008 - 9:46:37 PM

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Rose-Marie - by W.S. Van Dyke

Just as New York and Los Angeles are centers of popular culture today, Maine was once home to the most popular singers and songwriters in America. Rudy Vallee of Westbrook, and his popular The Maine Stein Song, is one example. Less well known is Lillian Nordica, a native of Farmington who went on to gain worldwide fame as an opera singer.

Few if any of our traditional values in music have survived. The gradual decline in musical taste which began in the 1920s, and intensified in the 1960s with the popularization of rock and roll, has caused popular music to become increasingly disordered. The principles which give order and structure to music - harmony, melody, and a natural rhythm - have been jettisoned in favor of atonality, or worse, animalistic wailing and the syncopated thumping of drums.

A decline in morals has paralleled the decline in popular taste. This is the deadliest form of disorder, and it too, has its origin in Left-wing ideology. The Sexual Revolution, after all, was the brainchild of the Austrian Communist Wilhelm Reich, and the movement to destroy sexual morality takes its name from a book he published in 1927, "The Sexual Revolution, or Sex in the Culture Wars."

To destroy the relationship between man and woman, the most fundamental of societal relationships, is to poison society at its very roots. Once this is accomplished, all other products of human society will be blighted, and gradually wither away.

So different is the view of love in Rose-Marie, that viewing the movie for the first time is a rather startling experience. Some who have seen the movie have said, "Be prepared to shed a tear, not only at the great tenderness shown between co-stars Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, but a tear for all America has lost."

The romance between Sergeant Bruce, the Mountie, played by Nelson Eddy, and the opera star Marie de Flor, played by Jeanette MacDonald, is only part of the story. The real drama in the movie happens when Sergeant Bruce is sent to arrest Marie de Flor's brother, played by a very young Jimmy Stewart. Stewart has killed a Mountie and must pay with his life. Will Rose-Marie betray her brother, or will she remain faithful to Sergeant Bruce? In the end, loyalty and honor win out.

Along with honor, loyalty, and a high regard for women, there is a wild and untamed element in the American soul. Rose-Marie captures this youthful, energetic spirit in its depiction of an Indian camp and Harvest Festival. Mountain-top vistas, eagles soaring over pine forests, and circling native dancers, stir emotions which lie buried deep within every American heart.

The music of operetta composer Rudolf Friml adds to the enchantment. Particularly enlightening is Jeanette MacDonald's horrified reaction to the new style of music - Ragtime - which was sweeping the nation at the time.  It is difficult to imagine that there was actually a time in America when people were embarrassed by the lewdness of the new music, and the uncontrolled, uncouth motions of the performers and dancers. Ragtime, of course, was the music of saloons, and the "Jitterbug" was a slang expression for the tremors alcoholics feel when they go without alcohol.

In short, Rose-Marie is the perfect expression of the American soul, a mysterious blending of the transcendent values of loyalty and honor and a deep-felt love for our beautiful northern lands. Anyone who watches Rose-Marie will realize that the American soul cannot die, even though Hollywood does its best to bury us beneath tasteless vulgarity and mindless evil. Movies such as Rose-Marie reassure us that one day the American soul will blaze forth once again - in all its glory.

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