The Rogue Song

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The Rogue Song
Directed by Lionel Barrymore
Produced by Irving Thalberg
Written by John Colton
Frances Marion
Starring Lawrence Tibbett
Catherine Dale Owen
Music by Herbert Stothart
Franz Lehár
Clifford Grey
Cinematography Percy Hilburn
Charles Edgar Schoenbaum
Edited by Margaret Booth
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
May 10, 1930 (1930-05-10)
Running time
104 minutes (11 min remained fragments)
Country United States
Language English

The Rogue Song is a 1930 romantic musical film which tells the story of a Russian bandit who falls in love with a princess, but takes his revenge on her when her brother rapes and kills his sister. It was directed by Lionel Barrymore and Hal Roach (uncredited) and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. The film stars Lawrence Tibbett who was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance. Laurel and Hardy have small roles, which were filmed at the last minute and interspersed throughout the film in an attempt to boost the film's box office appeal.

A complete 104 minutes Technicolor print and 11 minutes of fragments of the extended version of The Rouge Song" were restored by UCLA.


The story takes place in Russia in the year 1910. Yegor (Lawrence Tibbett), a dashing (as well as singing) bandit leader meets Princess Vera (Catherine Dale Owen) at a mountain inn. They fall in love, but the relationship is shattered when Yegor kills Vera's brother, Prince Serge, for raping his sister, Nadja, and driving her to suicide. Yegor kidnaps Vera, forcing her to live a life of lowly servitude among the bandits. Vera manages to outwit Yegor, who is captured by soldiers and flogged. Vera begs Yegor's forgiveness. Although still in love with each other, they realize they cannot be together, at least for the time being.



  • "The Rogue Song" (Sung by Lawrence Tibbett)
  • "The Narrative" (Sung by Lawrence Tibbett)
  • "Love Comes Like A Bird On The Wing" (Sung by Lawrence Tibbett)
  • "The White Dove" (Sung by Lawrence Tibbett)
  • "Swan Ballet" (Played by Studio Orchestra)
  • "Once In The Georgian Hills" (Sung by Lawrence Tibbett)
  • "When I'm Looking At You" (Sung by Lawrence Tibbett)

Laurel and Hardy[edit]

There were ten comic episodes throughout the film in which Laurel and Hardy appeared. One of these has survived on film. In this scene, there is a storm and a tent is blown away revealing Stan and Oliver. They try to sleep without any cover. A bear enters a cave. Stan and Oliver decide to seek shelter in the cave and, because it is so dark, they can't see the bear. Oliver thinks Stan is wearing a fur coat. The bear begins to growl. Stan and Oliver flee.

Another segment, in which Laurel swallows a bee, has also survived on the trailer to the film, which has survived almost intact.


The film is MGM's first All-Talking, All-Color (Technicolor) production. It was also the screen debut of Lawrence Tibbett, who was a world-renowned star of the Metropolitan Opera. The film is notable today as Laurel and Hardy's first appearance in color, although at the time of release they were only minor players in the film.

The movie was adapted by John Colton and Frances Marion from the operetta Gypsy Love by Robert Bodansky and A. M. Willner.

Preservatation status[edit]

In 2015, a UCLA team visited the Czech Film Archive in Prague to restore an original two-strip Technicolor print and 11 minutes of fragments of the extended version of The Rouge Song. Prior to this, despite extensive searches, no complete print of the movie had been found.

One reel features a ballet sequence by Albertina Rasch and survived intact at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Another surviving reel featured Lawrence Tibbett singing to Catherine Dale Owen survives at the Czech Film Archive. In addition, a short fragment exists which features Lawrence Tibbett and Catherine Dale Owen as they are caught in a storm. This fragment also features a short comic segment with Laurel & Hardy hide in a cave in which a bear has taken shelter. An almost complete print of the original trailer also survived at UCLA – the first sixty seconds were lost, due to deterioration, but the sound survived complete as it was recorded on Vitaphone disks, rather than MGM's usual usage of Movietone. In the trailer, Tibbett sings "White Dove" to Owen. A short segment featuring the comics Laurel & Hardy is also seen in which Laurel has apparently swallowed a bee.

In addition to those film fragments, the complete soundtrack survived because it was re-recorded on Vitaphone disks for theaters that did not have optical sound systems. Prints made in the early two-color Technicolor processes proved especially unstable due to the color dyes used, compounded by the instability of the nitrate film used for the negatives and prints. Digital restoration processes have been employed to transfer many early Technicolor films to more stable "safety" stock.

The estate of Lawrence Tibbett held a color copy of the entire Rogue Song for many years after his death. Tibbett liked the film and showed it frequently to his friends. The late Allan Jones was a regular visitor and friend and reportedly gained possession of the print, which his son Jack Jones unfortunately had to junk because of nitrate film decomposition. Tibbett had recorded some of the songs from the film in studio recordings released by RCA Victor on 78-rpm "Red Seal" discs.

MGM held the negative of reel 4 until the early 1967. It is believed that the entire film was stored in their Vault No. 7 but was destroyed in the fire that occurred there.

A discovery in the former East Germany provided evidence that a German two-color print of the film was copied, dubbed into Russian, and sent to the Soviet Union.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]