(out of 5)
Fictionalized biography of composer Johann Strauss that happily admits to being a pure invention. Regardless of this silliness, the film is a sumptuous treat, highly entertaining and gorgeously shot and scored. Strauss (Fernand Gravey) leaves his job at the bank to compose the waltzes he’s had in his heart his whole life, marrying his childhood sweetheart (Luise Rainer) and becoming a grand success. He is given the patronage, and later the romantic attentions of, a grand diva opera singer (Miliza Korjus) who steals his heart and convinces him to run away with her despite the devotion that his lovely wife gives him. The plot is sheer fluff, romantic drivel that works only because of the graceful direction by Julien Duvivier, who shoots the entire thing with the kind of beauty that you’d expect from Max Ophuls or Ernst Lubitsch. Rainer’s performance is wispy and silly, but her final scene with Korjus is so incredibly heartfelt that you’ll feel for her anyway, while Korjus steals the show with her adorable smile and gorgeous singing. Oscar Hammerstein II wrote the lyrics for the melodies by the composer that are included here.
Directed by Julien Duvivier
Cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg
Produced by Bernard H. Hyman
Production Design by Cedric Gibbons
Costume Design by Adrian
Film Editing by Tom Held