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The Great Waltz

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Original title
The Great Waltz
Running time
104 min.
United States United States
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Samuel Hoffenstein, Walter Reisch (Story: Gottfried Reinhardt)
Artur Guttmann
Joseph Ruttenberg (B&W)
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Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Loew's
Drama. Musical | Biography. 19th Century
Synopsis / Plot
Take the story of a man torn between two women, add the music of Johann Strauss and the scenery of 1840's Vienna and you have The Great Waltz, an irresistible cream puff of a movie. Miliza Korjus-rhymes with gorgeous and she is-portrays the fictional opera singer Carla Doner in a delicious performance that verges on May West camp, murmuring most of her lines through a perpetual full-toothed grin and waltzing herself giddy while singing absolutely impossible sounding obliggatoes to Strauss's walzes-never loosing a beat and never out of breath! Luise Rainer's innate sweetness and vulnerability are perfect for Poldi, Strauss's devoted wife. Watch her silent reaction when she realizes that the song she thought he wrote for her was actually intended for Madame Doner-incredible acting. On the other hand, Fernand Gravet, as Strauss, is unexceptional and a bit bland. Among the excellent supporting cast, Hugh Herbert as the befuddled music publisher and Curt Bois as the comic, but wise violinist are outstanding. The movie does require a temporary suspension of belief. It is full of improbabilities, including the all-female orchestra that performs Tales of the Vienna Woods in a biergarten--wearing evening gowns, Madam Doner's apparent ability to glance at a piece of music once and perform it word and note perfect (the citizens of Vienna take this one step further by singing along even though the waltzes in question have yet to be published!), and the most peculiar version of Die Fledermaus ever performed. If you are looking for historical accuracy or musical purity, this is not your movie, but if you want a delightful Hollywood operetta, you can't do much better than The Great Waltz.
1938: Oscar: Best Cinematography. 3 Nominations
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