Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5. USA, 1950. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Sy Gomberg, George Wells. Cinematography by William E. Snyder. Produced by Joe Pasternak. Music by Albert Sendrey, George Stoll. Production Design by Daniel B. Cathcart, Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Walter Plunkett, Helen Rose. Film Editing by Gene Ruggiero. Academy Awards 1950.
Those who aren’t fans of opera will prefer to kill themselves than sit through two hours of Mario Lanza bellowing endlessly and Kathryn Grayson screeching at the top of her lungs. Those who love opera, however, will think they’ve died and gone to heaven. Well, maybe not quite that good, but the music is plentiful and the story takes backseat to all the songs. Grayson plays a successful New Orleans opera singer who, while slumming it in a Louisiana backwoods village, comes across an ignorant, backwoods bloke (Lanza) who just happens to sound like a perfectly-pitched hurricane. Her mentor (David Niven) invites him to the big city to train to be an opera singer, and so he does, along with his incredibly annoying uncle (just because he’s provincial doesn’t mean he has to be so goddamned rude all the time). Lanza learns about singing, but more importantly, he learns about life and love when he sings ‘Be My Love’ for the eighteenth time to Grayson and realizes he actually means it. Lovely performances, but the emphasis on making the village people ignorant gets a bit wearing, and Grayson’s snobbish behaviour makes it impossible to believe that anyone but a fortune hunter or a bibelot-collector would ever love her so much.