The Great Waltz


(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 () leaves his job at the bank to compose the waltzes he’s had in his heart his whole life, marrying his childhood sweetheart () and becoming a grand success. He is given the patronage, and later the romantic attentions of, a grand diva opera singer () 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.


USA, 1938

Directed by

Screenplay by , , from an original story by Gottfried Reinhardt

Cinematography by

Produced by

Music by , ,

Production Design by Cedric Gibbons

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Academy Awards 1938

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