Musical Monday: The Student Prince (1954)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
The Student Prince – Musical #467

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: Richard Thorpe

Starring:
Ann Blyth, Edmund Purdom, John Ericson, Louis Calhern, Edmund Gwenn, S.Z. Sakall, Betta St. John, John Williams, Evelyn Varden, Richard Anderson, John Hoyt, John Qualen, Mario Lanza (singing voice)

Plot:
Prince Karl Franz (Purdom) is set to marry Princess Johanna (St. John) to help his kingdom financially. When the princess finds Prince Karl to be stuffy and unfeeling, he is sent by the King (Calhern) to Heidelberg to study and also learn how to be a human being. While at the university, Prince Karl falls in love with a barmaid, Kathy (Blyth), he has to choose between love and duty.

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Musical Monday: Because You’re Mine (1952)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
Because You’re Mine (1952) – Musical No. 604

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: Alexander Hall

Starring:
Mario Lanza, Doretta Morrow, James Whitmore, Bobby Van, Rita Corday (billed as Paula Corday), Dean Miller, Jeff Donnell, Spring Byington, Don Porter, Eduard Franz, Dabs Greer (uncredited)

Plot:
Renaldo Rossano (Lanza) is a famous opera singer who is drafted into the Army. His sergeant, Batterson (Whitmore) turns out to be a big fan of Rossano and gives him preferential treatment. Batterson also introduces Rossano to his sister Bridget (Morrow), hoping that Rossano can give her a break. Rossano helps out, hoping it will get him out of the Army and back on stage, but then he falls in love with Bridget.

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Musical Monday: The Great Caruso (1951)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
The Great Caruso (1951) – Musical #341

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Richard Thorpe

Starring:
Mario Lanza, Ann Blyth, Dorothy Kirsten, Jarmila Novotna, Richard Hageman, Carl Benton Reid, Yvette Duguay, Angela Clarke, Mario Siletti, Alan Napier, Ludwig Donath, Pál Jávor, Mae Clarke (uncredited), George Chakiris (uncredited)

Plot:
Biographical musical about Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (Lanza). The film begins when he is a boy in Naples and follows his rise to fame. He faces struggles along the way, such as disapproval from the fathers of girlfriends and American opera audiences not welcoming him with open arms.

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Musical Monday: For the First Time (1959)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
For the First Time (1959)– Musical #569

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Rudolph Maté

Starring:
Mario Lanza, Johanna von Koczian, Kurt Kasznar, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Hans Söhnker,

Plot:
Famous tenor Tonio Costa (Lanza) is temperamental and causes problems for his manager (Kasznar). Tonio falls in love with Christa (Koczian), who is deaf. However, she won’t marry him until she is able to hear him sing.

Trivia:
-Last film of Mario Lanza. “For the First Time” was released on Aug. 14, 1959, and Lanza died of a heart attack at age 38 on Oct. 7, 1959.
-Mario Lanza’s first film since he made Seven Hills of Rome in 1957.

Highlights:
-A dachshund at the beginning begging
-The opera montage of Mario Lanza performing Othello, Pagliacci or Aida

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Musical Monday: That Midnight Kiss (1949)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
That Midnight Kiss (1949)– Musical #258

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Norman Taurog

Starring:
Kathryn Grayson, Mario Lanza, Ethel Barrymore, Keenan Wynn, J. Carrol Naish, Jules Munshin, Thomas Gomez, Arthur Treacher, Marjorie Reynolds
Themselves: José Iturbi, Amparo Iturbi
Narrator: Leon Ames

Plot:
Wealthy Abigail Trent Budell (Barrymore) wants pianist José Iturbi (himself) to help launch the opera career of her granddaughter Prudence (Grayson). Iturbi finds her talented and Abigail sponsors an opera company so Prudence can get her start. With a new talent, famous tenor Guido Russino Betelli (Gomez) is hired as her lead. Betelli is demanding and difficult to work with. Abigail meets singing truck driver Johnny Donnetti (Lanza) and encourages Iturbi to also make him a singing star.

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Musical Monday: Serenade (1956)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

This week’s musical:
“Serenade” –Musical #510

serena3

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Anthony Mann

Starring:
Mario Lanza, Joan Fontaine, Sara Montiel, Vincent Price, Joseph Callelia, Vince Edwards, Ed Platt

Plot:
Vineyard worker Damon (Lanza) has dreams of becoming an opera star. When socialite Kendall Hale (Fontaine) gets lost and spots him in vineyard, makes Damon her project to make him famous. But like other countless athletes and artists, Kendall builds them up to toss them aside, causing destruction to each one. Damon is no exception. After a break down, Damon goes to Mexico where he tries to rebuild his life.

Trivia:

Mario Lanza dressed in costume "Othello."

Mario Lanza dressed in costume “Othello.”

-Adapted from a James M. Cain novel.
-Metropolitan Opera Singer Licia Albanese is featured in the “Othello” scene.
-Mario Lanza’s first film in three years.
-A brief part of “Othello” is performed in the film. While Lanza is only in costume for 14 minutes, the makeup took four hours, according to a March 24, 1956, “Miami News” article.
-In the film, Juana (Montiel) becomes Damon’s wife. In the Cain book, she is a prostitute and the two open a brothel together. Also in the book, Damon struggles with bisexuality.

Notable Songs:
-“Dio Ti Giocondi” performed by Mario Lanza and Licia Albanese
-“Serenade” performed by Mario Lanza
-“Ave Maria” performed by Mario Lanza

The only really exciting part of the film.

The only really exciting part of the film.

My Review:
Simply put, “Serenade” is dull.
It’s a slow moving, predictable plot. The plot is predictable and not new: the mature society lady who molds an artist just to move on to the next project. The most interesting characters were played by the secondary roles. Vincent Price was the most interesting character as he helps Lanza with his career. It’s also interesting to see character actor Joseph Calleia as an elderly music lover.
The most sympathetic character was Juana, played by Sara Montiel. She was lovely and also brought two rather exciting scenes to an otherwise boring movie.
While Mario Lanza has a beautiful voice and I enjoy opera, his songs are also boring. It is disappointing that the “Othello” scene is so brief.
“Serenade” is overly dramatic and overly long. Even Anthony Mann’s direction and beautiful music could not save this film.

 

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