A drama in three acts adapted by Arthur Pollock from the French play by Henri Berstein. Opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, New York City, April 16, 1931, and lasted 67 performances. Produced by Lee Shubert, staged by Marcel Varnel.

Cast of characters

Romaine Belcroix Edna Best
Marcel Blanc Basil Rathbone
Pierre Belcroix Earle Larimore
Christiane Ruth Abbott
Jeanne Marion Wells
Dr. Remy Harry Davenport
A Priest Fuller Mellish
François Stapleton Kent
A Professional Dancer John Worthington
A Gigolo Pierre Vistaud
A French Woman Henriette Douvier
Another French Woman Marie Maurier
A Maitre D'Hôtel François Amiard
A Man Robert Noble
Another Man Arthur Stenning
Act I  

Basil Rathbone and Edna Best
photo by White Studio

  Scene 1 Garden of Belcroix's Home Near Paris
Scene 2
Marcel Blanc's Studio, Paris.
Scene 3 Russian Cabaret
Scene 4 Marcel Blanc's Studio
Act II
  Scene 1 Living Room of Belcroix's Home
Scene 2
Marcel's Studio
Scene 3 Pierre's Bedroom
Scenes 4 and 5 On the Terrace of a Small Café
  Scene 1 Terrace of Small Café
Scene 2
Home of a Priest
Scene 3 Marcel's Studio

"The Belcroix, Romaine and Pierre, are living happily in a suburb of Paris when Pierre's boyhood friend and fellow student at the conservatoire, Marcel Blanc, comes to visit them. Romaine and Marcel are immediately attracted, each to the other. Especially Romaine. After many visits Romaine and Marcel know that they love each other helplessly. Marcel, a great violinist, is leaving on a concert tour. When he returns to Paris he will expect Romaine to be freed from his old friend, Pierre. Romaine can think of no way to be rid of her trusting husband except by poisoning him, which she tries. Caught in the act she realizes that she can neither go with Marcel or go back to Pierre. She throws herself in the Seine. Pierre and Marcel thereafter patch up their friendship, both mourning the dead Romaine."
[from The Best Plays of 1930-31, ed. by Burns Mantle (Dodd, Mead and Co., 1931), page 517.]

"As confessed by its title, this play is a melodrama. It is also the first Manhattan presentation of a play by French author Henry Bernstein (The Thief) and the third appearance of the season for English actor Basil Rathbone. With two strikes against him for a pair of wild, unsuccessful swings he took in Heat Wave and A Kiss of Importance, Mr. Rathbone seems pretty sure of a base hit with Melo.

Pierre Belcroix (Earle Larimore), a journeyman musician, and his wife Romaine (Edna Best) are visited by an eminent amorist and violinist, Marcel Blanc (Mr. Rathbone). In no time at all the ancient triangle situation develops. As the curtain fall on Act I there is a charming scene in the virtuoso's apartment, with Miss Best lying in Mr. Rathbone's arms and humming Lehar's "Dein ist Mein Ganzes Hertz." In Act II, however, the affair becomes less idyllic. Miss Best tries to poison her husband while Mr. Rathbone is away on a concert tour. Detected by a doctor, she jumps into the most valuable body of water in the dramatists' atlas, the Seine. From this point on, Melo flags and falters. There is a tableau vivant around the dead woman's grave, followed by a long-winded scene at the violinist's home where the husband tries to get Mr. Rathbone to admit his philandering. Melo ends on an unclear and noncommittal note, possibly because plump, engaging actress Best is killed off one act too soon.

Shortcomings of Melo can in no way be laid to its cast. Miss Best's interpretation is cool, crisp, sensible. She redeems a part which might very well become wretchedly maudlin. A sort of British Hope Williams, her outstanding U.S. successes have been in The High Road and These Charming People. Basil Rathbone, smooth, slick, debonair, slides through his role with his customary facility."
[Review in Time magazine, April 27, 1931, page 49.]

Basil Rathbone and Edna Best
photo by White Studio

Basil Rathbone and Edna Best
photo by White Studio

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