Please don't spend money on this.
it is finally so absorbing because it plays like a lyrical road odyssey that’s also a detective story.
Like the great film, it's made with a great deal of visible affection both in front of and behind the camera.
One of the worst ways to make a cult movie is to set out to make a cult movie.
During the 19th century, Empress Sisi of the Austria-Hungarian Empire was the darling of Europe. She was pretty and the newspapers turned her into a sensation. In many ways, the hubbub around her was like that of the late Princess Diana Windsor...with people adoring her though not exactly sure why. In real life, Sisi was a strange, vain lady who couldn't live up to this public image...after all, who could?! Well, because of her huge popularity in her time, it's not at all surprising that she was the subject of quite a few films...such as the lavish Sisi series starring Romy Schneider. Like this series, "The King Steps Out" is pretty much fiction...showing a strong romance with her eventual husband, Emperor Franz Josef...though in real life they could barely stand each other and spent much of their married life apart! So, if you see this film, remember that it is NOT really a biography...just an excuse to see the opera star Grace Moore sing!The story purports to be the love story of Franz Josef and Sisi. Originally, the Emperor was going to marry Sisi's sister, but the sister already had a boyfriend. As for Sisi, she and the Emperor meet and fall in love...not knowing who the other was. All in all, both appear to be swell, down to Earth people. Apart from the names, pretty much all the story is fiction.So is it any good? Well, the history teacher within me says no because the film is a historical nightmare. But, on the positive side, while it's a Grace Moore film, she doesn't sing all that much...a major plus for most viewers since most viewers don't want to hear opera music. Overall, pleasant fluff that bears almost no semblance to Sisi or Franz Josef.
SPOILERS *** Not sure why they called this "King Steps Out"... the leader of this burg seems to be Emporer Franz Josef, played by Franchot Tone. There are dukes, duchesses, princesses, colonels and captains, but no kings. Walter Connolly, known for his comedy is the duke of bavaria. Franchot Tone is the Emporer, and has the guards bring up "Cissy", the girl picking flowers. (Grace Moore) She keeps busting out into song. Yawn. This one would have been better if they jazzed up the script and left out the songs completely. Mistaken identities, silly inn-keepers, interfering parents, and suddenly they're in love. A couple twists, here and there. Its OK. Directed by Josef von Sternberg, who apparently had a reputation as a real jerk, acc to various sources. An interesting tale where Charlie Chaplin burned one of Sternbergs films, since it came out so terrible. Wikipedia has a whole entry on "Woman_of_the_Sea"... sadly, the film seems to be lost to time. When you watch this one, mute the operatic numbers and just enjoy the show.
Grace Moore stars with Franchot Tone and Walter Connolly in "The King Steps Out" from 1936. It's directed by the Josef von Sternberg, normally known for more serious fare.The operetta concerns the Duke of Bavaria (Connolly) bringing his older daughter to Vienna to marry the Emperor Franz Josef. His younger daughter, Sissi, goes along and poses as a dressmaker. She catches the eye of the Emperor, but he doesn't realize she's royalty.Moore, a Metropolitan Opera star, enjoyed a nine-year film career. She had a beautiful voice and was a vivacious Sissi. Tone is elegant and charming. And the supporting cast is excellent, including Connolly, Victor Jory, and Herman Bing.There are a couple of problems with this film. The first is that the music isn't great. The second is that the real Emperor Franz Josef was assassinated, as Sissi was 20 years later. A real downer. Plus, they weren't that happy together. If you can pretend these are fictional characters, it's okay.In Austria and Germany, Sissi is a cult figure on the level of Princess Diana here. Her face appears on products, cookies and jewelry are named after her, there are statues of her, books about her, a play, ballet, as well as a musical and three films about her starring Romy Schneider that are shown at Christmas.Of note, this was the film debut of 11-year-old Gwen Verdon, who dances in the ballet.
Notable for starring Grace Moore, being directed by Josef Von Sternberg and having tunes by none other than violin virtuoso and composer Fritz Kreisler, 'The King Steps Out' is still an enchanting and very entertaining film in its own right.Its weak point is the story, which is very slight and occasionally veers on the wrong side of absurd. Herman Bing's role is also a little over-exposed, and while Fritz Kreisler's songs are lovely, lushly orchestrated and full of energy and pathos the only ones that really have unforgettable staying power are "Stars in My Eyes" and "What Shall Remain" (there's absolutely nothing wrong with them, they just don't have the wow factor).'The King Steps Out' is a gorgeous-looking film though, with sumptuous period detail and photography that really shimmers. The script is heart-warming, light-footed and smart, with Walter Connolly and especially Herman Bing (did mention about him being over-exposed but still loved the performance) providing some scene-stealing moments, Bing especially delighting by facial expressions, use of voice and body language.Sternberg directs more than competently, personally didn't think any lack of trust in the material came through, and the energy and enchanting charm 'The King Steps Out' exudes in every frame makes it such an easy film to like. Moore proves to be a graceful leading lady, beautiful in voice and a deft comedienne, while Franchet Tone is elegantly charming. Their chemistry is sweet and wholly natural.All in all, slight but enchanting. Moore may be the main attraction, but she is certainly not the only reason to see this. 7/10 Bethany Cox