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The Toast of New Orleans

The Toast of New Orleans
File:Toast of new orleans.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Norman Taurog
Produced by Joe Pasternak
Written by Sy Gomberg
George Wells
Starring Mario Lanza
Kathryn Grayson
David Niven
Music by Nicholas Brodszky
Johnny Green
Cinematography William Snyder
Edited by Gene Ruggiero
Distributed by Loew's[1]
Release dates
  • September 19, 1950 (1950-09-19) (New Orleans)[2]
Running time
97 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,889,000[3]
Box office $3,251,000[3]

The Toast of New Orleans is a 1950 MGM musical film directed by Norman Taurog and choreographed by Eugene Loring. It starred Mario Lanza, Kathryn Grayson, David Niven, J. Carrol Naish, James Mitchell and a teenaged Rita Moreno. The film was made in the wake of That Midnight Kiss, Lanza's successful film debut, as an opportunity for Lanza to sing on the big screen again.


Set in Louisiana in 1905, the plot revolves around Pepe Abellard Duvalle, a bayou fisherman with a natural singing talent, who falls in love with opera star soprano Suzette Micheline (Grayson). Micheline's manager (Niven) hears Duvalle sing and invites him to come to New Orleans to sing. Reluctantly, Duvalle allows himself to be groomed for the opera. At first resistant to his advances, Micheline also falls in love with Duvalle, but is disenchanted by his transformation into a cultured gentleman. Ultimately Duvalle regains his former rough charm and the romantic difficulties are resolved.[4]



In addition to selected arias from the operas Carmen, Madama Butterfly, and La traviata, the film includes the song "Be My Love", which was nominated for an Academy Award.[5] Lanza had previously appeared in a 1948 production of Madama Butterfly with the New Orleans Opera Association.


The success of the first screen pairing of Grayson and Lanza, That Midnight Kiss (1949), led quickly to the production of The Toast of New Orleans. Shooting began in late December 1949 and concluded in early March 1950.[1] Thirty-five sets were required; three adjoining sound stages on the MGM lot were combined to house one of the largest indoor sets constructed for a film musical.[6]

Lanza earned $50,000 for his appearance in the film, twice what his contract provided.[7] The Toast of New Orleans also marked Hageman's acting debut,[5] and was Moreno's first role in a movie musical.[7]


Distributed by Loew's, The Toast of New Orleans premiered at the Loew's State in New Orleans on September 19, 1950;[2] it was released nationally on September 29.[1] According to MGM records the film earned $1,671,000 in the US and Canada and $1,580,000 elsewhere, leading to a profit of $22,000.[3]


  1. ^ a b c "The Toast of New Orleans (1950) – Original Print Information". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2015-01-30. 
  2. ^ a b "M-G-M Stages Bow of 'New Orleans'". Motion Picture Daily. September 20, 1950. p. 11. Retrieved 2015-01-30. 
  3. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  4. ^ "The Toast of New Orleans (1950) – Full Synopsis". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2015-01-30. 
  5. ^ a b "The Toast of New Orleans (1950) – Notes". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2015-01-30. 
  6. ^ "Music Film Uses 35 Sets". Los Angeles Times. Oct 7, 1950. 
  7. ^ a b Cesari, Armando (2004). Mario Lanza: An American Tragedy. Baskerville. pp. 104; 107. ISBN 978-1-880909-66-9. 

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