World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Tonight or Never (1931 film)


Tonight or Never (1931 film)

Tonight or Never
Theatrical poster
Directed by Mervyn LeRoy
Produced by Samuel Goldwyn
Written by Fanny Hatton
Frederic Hatton
Lily Hatvany
Ernest Vajda
Starring Gloria Swanson
Constance Cummings
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Gregg Toland
Edited by Grant Whytock
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • December 17, 1931 (1931-12-17)
Running time
80 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Tonight or Never is a 1931 American Pre-Code comedy film directed by Mervyn LeRoy, starring Gloria Swanson and featuring Boris Karloff.


  • Plot 1
  • Cast 2
  • Production 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


Nella Vargo (Swanson) is a Hungarian prima donna whose latest performances include singing Tosca in Venice. Although she is praised by the audience, her music teacher Rudig feels that she can not be the greatest opera singer in history until she performs in New York City. When she is criticized for not putting her soul into the song, she gets mad, until she suddenly notices a mysterious man walking on the street. She becomes smitten with the man, until Rudig claims that he is a gigolo whose latest client is Marchesa Bianca San Giovanni, a former diva with a notorious past.

Later that night, Nella decides to head to Budapest, accompanied by Rudig, her butler Conrad, her maid Emma and her fiancé Count Albert von Gronac, whom she is not in love with. She is shocked when she finds out the mysterious man is on board as well, with the marchesa as his company. Rudig again suggests that she will never be a great singer if she does not experience love. The next day, Rudig announces that Fletcher is in town to sign European artists, an agent for the prestigious Metropolitan Opera in New York. Later that afternoon, she finds out her fiancé is having an affair with one of her enemies.

Furious and upset with her love life, she goes to the hotel where she is staying and decides to hire the mysterious man, Jim, in hopes of experience love and thereby impress Fletcher. She is attracted to him, but is afraid to have her as his admirer. Jim, who is actually agent Fletcher, soon finds out that Nella thinks that he is a gigolo. Instead of revealing the truth, he pretends to be one and dominantly forces her to make a decision: spend the night with him or leave within 2 minutes.

Nella decides to spend the night with him, but leaves the next morning before he awakes. That night, she again gives a performance of Tosca, which is acclaimed as her best in her entire career. After returning home, she is overcome by joy to find out that she has landed a contract with the Metropolitan Opera, but feels guilty for what she has done the night before. The same day, Jim visits her, returning the necklace she has left to pay for his services and demanding her to choose between him and the contract. When she tears up the contract, he realizes that she is in love with him and he reveals himself to be a nephew of the marchesa and the famous talent scout. Now, Nella can have the successful New York career she has dreamt of.



The film is based on the Hungarian play of the same name, which was performed on Broadway between November 18, 1930 and June 1931.[1] In the film, Mervyn LeRoy. LeRoy as a young unknown had appeared uncredited playing a newsboy in Swanson's 1923 silent societal drama Prodigal Daughters.[2]

Joseph Schenck assigned Gloria Swanson to play the lead role, thinking it would help the actress getting out of her career slump.[3] The film was the only of her early talkies in which she did not sing, although ironically playing an opera singer.[4] The film sparked Douglas' screen debut.[2]

The Hays Code strongly objected to the film and demanded a lot of cuts to be made.[2] The scene which the Code thought to be the most vulgar was the love scene between Nella and Jim.[2] A staff member commented: 'This scene was one of the most offensive, if not the most offensive-in my recollection.'[2] In 1931, it was allowed to be released, but the request of re-releases in 1935 and 1937 were rejected.[2]

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i
  3. ^ Berg, A., Goldwyn: a biography. p.213
  4. ^ Barrios, R., A song in the dark: the birth of the musical film. p.319

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from School eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.