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Bullets and Bonbons - All’s Fair in Love and War - The Chocolate Soldier [1965, Chicago, Civic Opera House]

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Film Identifier: F.2011-05-0142
Run Time
0h 40m 54s
Date Produced
Bullets and Bonbons, choreographed by Ruth Page, is based on the 1908 operetta "The Chocolate Soldier" by Oscar Straus, which is itself based on George Bernard Shaw's 1894 play, "Arms and the Man." The ballet was premiered in 1965, performed by Karl Musil from the Vienna Opera Ballet, and Irina Borowska. This film represents a rehearsal version, performed by some of Page's company dancers, which seems to take place in the Chicago Civic Opera House. The film canister label suggests that at least some of the ballet is rehearsed without music, though it does include music credits to Straus for composing and Van Grove for arranging it.
The film opens with a young girl (in practice clothes) enjoying a book and some bonbons in her bed; nearby are a wall with a window onto a balcony and another wall with a door. She appears to hear a noise and, while she is distracted, a criminal with a gun scurries through her room and out the window. She is soon joined by more women and a group of detectives searching for the criminal. They are soon joined by a strapping fellow who proposes to the young woman after the investigators leave. They then perform a loving pas de deux. After he exits through the set door, she continues to dance with what appears to be a photo of him. As she finishes this dance, the criminal reenters through her window, frightening her. Though he points his gun at her and another female who enters the room, he soon sees the box of bonbons, drops the gun, and begins to gobble them up. The girl tries to threaten him with his forgotten gun, but this is unsuccessful; he subsequently performs a solo dance in an attempt to win over the women. This works on the two accompanying women, but not the main character--at least, not at first. He eventually convinces her to dance with him and then kisses her. She reels, and her companions then quickly hide him under her bed as the investigators return. Eventually, they think to look under the bed but he manages to elude their grasp and escapes out the window once again. The film soon cuts to a scene in which the young woman flirtatiously taunts the criminal, who has returned, with a platter of bonbons. They soon find themselves together on her bed, bonbons gone. Her female friends return and see the couple, scandalized. The young woman apparently convinces her friends of her innocence, however; soon all three are taking care of him as if he's bedridden by illness. Then, when no one is looking, the criminal steals the empty bonbons container and the young woman's dressing gown, escaping once again through the window. Afterwards a large group of women enters the stage and performs an ensemble dance. As part of the choreography, they disassemble the set, with help from a group of men who enter. The film then cuts to a completely different backdrop, a single large wall upon which a stylized city block is painted, with families in many of the windows and soldiers standing in the street. On the stage, the same two groups of men and women who disassembled the bedroom set now dance together. The young woman's fiancé soon enters and becomes center of attention as he performs a solo. After the rest of the crowd exits, a young female admirer stays behind and persuades the fiancé to dance with her--she also steals a few kisses. Eventually, the criminal arrives and sees this forbidden romance unfolding just before the two exit together. He then performs a delighted solo. Next, the film cuts to another large ensemble dance with both men and women. Then a man enters, apparently with a bottle of alcohol, and after him the fiancé's admirer returns for a solo. Following them, two maidens enter with wedding dresses, offering them up for interested parties. Afterwards, the young woman from the first scene enters in her wedding dress, accompanied shortly by her fiancé; the fiancé's admirer looks on and the criminal spies the scene from one of the windows in the set. Soon, he arrives with his briefcase containing her dressing gown, but before he can present it to the couple, a group of men intervenes. Even so, the case falls into the fiancé's admirer's possession, and she opens it to reveal the dressing gown; the bride-to-be quickly hides it behind her back but her fiancé discovers it and thus accuses the criminal of having slept with her. The bride-to-be indignantly gives back her ring and the criminal refuses the now-ex-fiancé's attempt to fight. The admirer is happy to be handed the discarded wedding dress, and the "angry" ex-fiancé drags her offstage with him, leaving the criminal and the young woman alone onstage together. He expects affection from her, but she is cold to him as well. After a bit of coaxing, she warms up to him again; they perform a long, intimate pas de deux. Eventually, they are joined by groups of men and women, and all dance as an ensemble of couples. This marks the beginning of the finale: next the drunkard with the bottle and his companion enter and dance briefly, followed by the ex-fiancé and his admirer. Finally, the young woman and her criminal retake center stage. The women with wedding gowns then return and kneel beside them as all strike their final pose. Just before the film ends, all rise and begin moving about freely, marking the end of the choreography.
Additional Credit
Page, Ruth (is choreographer)
Straus, Oscar (is composer)
Van Grove, Isaac (music)
Actors, Performers and Participants
Klekovic, Patricia (is performer)
Johnson, Kenneth (is performer)
Schick, Charles (is performer)
Armin, Jeanne (is performer)
Long, Larry (is performer)
Fisera, Vicki (is performer)
Related Place
Chicago (production location of)