Zoo in Budapest. 1933. USA. Directed by Rowland V. Lee. With Loretta Young, Gene Raymond. Silent, with piano accompaniment. 94 min.
Fox Film had plenty of European emigres on staff (a tradition that began when the studio hired F. W. Murnau in 1926), but this delirious Mittle-European fantasy romance was concocted by Ohio-born director Rowland V. Lee and a team of American screenwriters. The blond, bluff and bisexual Gene Raymond stars as Zani, a nature boy (and early anti-fur activist) who lives on a first-name basis with the animals of the Budapest zoo. When he spots the impossibly beautiful orphan girl Eve (Loretta Young) he resolves to rescue her from a life of servitude to live in his artificial paradise. But there is a snake in this garden, in the person of a zealous zookeeper (hardworking character actor Paul Fix, in an early appearance). This new scan restores the color tints of the original 35mm prints. New 4K restoration from nitrate elements held by MoMA, funded by Twentieth Century Fox