In 1845 Vienna, Johann Strauss II - Schani to his friends - would rather write and perform waltzes than anything else, this at a time when a waltz is not considered proper society music. ...
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Georg Wilhelm Pabst
In 1845 Vienna, Johann Strauss II - Schani to his friends - would rather write and perform waltzes than anything else, this at a time when a waltz is not considered proper society music. After he is fired from his clerical bank job because of his preoccupation with composing, he decides to follow his passion and form an orchestra. After some famed opera singers, including Carla Donner, hear his music, they expose Schani's music to the masses, to royalty and to music publisher Julius Hofbauer. As such, Schani becomes the toast of Vienna. With his new found musical fame, Schani's life, which includes his work in the European Revolutions, changes. He becomes torn for his love for his loving and faithful wife Poldi Vogelhuber and his more emotionally passionate but somewhat destructive love for Carla Donner, who herself is involved with Count Anton Hohenfried.Written by
Sandwiched,in Duvivier's oeuvre,between two absolute masterpieces "Un carnet de Bal" and the overlooked "La fin du Jour" (some kind of French "Sunset Blvd" ) where the director's pessimism reaches new heights ,"The great waltz " ,unlike another movie made in Hollywood "Flesh and fantasy" cannot be looked upon as a "film d' Auteur".
It's impersonal but it nevertheless displays Duvivier's extraordinary eclecticism."The great waltz" is a good work,made with care and taste and shows that Duvivier could have been a great musicals director,if he had wanted to.Half of the movie consists of instrumentals or songs,which makes sense,for it is a movie dealing with Strauss's life.His private life does not interest that much Duvivier who avoids the traps of a linear biography.However,there are snatches of melodrama towards the end,mainly in the scenes between the moving Luise Rainer and Miliza Korjus in the theater.Fernand Gravey (spelled "Gravet" in the cast and credits)is the only French actor here.He had begun his American career with Mervyn LeRoy in 1937.
All the musical scenes are dazzling ;the "blue Danube" treatment is excellent,a waltz which would be used by dozens of directors,from Renoir ("Boudu Sauvé des Eaux" ) to Kubrik ("2001" ) to Cimino ("Heaven's gate"). Other good sequence: Strauss composing a new tune while he is hearing a horse' s trot.
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