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Song to Remember
     

A Song to Remember

Director: Charles Vidor, Paul Muni, Merle Oberon, Cornel Wilde

Cast: Charles Vidor, Paul Muni, Merle Oberon, Cornel Wilde

 

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One of the most successful filmed biographies of the 1940s, A Song to Remember alleges to be the true story of Polish composer Frederick Chopin. Actually, it has about as much relation to truth as a Heckle and Jeckle cartoon, but with such gorgeous creatures as Cornel Wilde and Merle Oberon in the leads, who cared? Though Wilde, as Chopin, is the nominal lead,

Overview

One of the most successful filmed biographies of the 1940s, A Song to Remember alleges to be the true story of Polish composer Frederick Chopin. Actually, it has about as much relation to truth as a Heckle and Jeckle cartoon, but with such gorgeous creatures as Cornel Wilde and Merle Oberon in the leads, who cared? Though Wilde, as Chopin, is the nominal lead, top billing goes to Paul Muni, hamming his way through the role of Chopin's mentor Professor Joseph Elsner. Reportedly, Muni developed his characterization long before shooting started, refusing to allow the performances of the other actors to alter his interpretation in the slightest. This may explain why Muni seems to be acting in a vacuum, frequently completely out of rhythm with the film and its characters. Otherwise, Cornel Wilde does a nice job as the tempestuous Chopin, whose patriotic fervency frequently takes priority over his music. Merle Oberon plays novelist George Sand, who despite her preference for male clothing proves to be "all woman" during her torrid, decade-long affair with Chopin. The film's money scene--the one that everyone talked about, keeping the picture "alive" long after its original release--occurs towards the end, when the tubercular Chopin begins hemorrhaging as he performs his "Polonaise" for the first time (Jose Iturbi is heard on the soundtrack, "doubling" for Wilde's ivory-tickling). Sumptuously photographed in Technicolor by Tony Gaudio and Allen M. Davey, A Song to Remember was the usually penurious Columbia Pictures' top production of 1945. Fifteen years later, the studio hoped to make lightning strike twice with its Franz Liszt biopic Song Without End, but the magic just wasn't there.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Like almost every Hollywood biopic of a musical figure, A Song to Remember raises the question, "Why did they bother to claim it was based on a real person?" Even by Hollywood standards, the liberties taken with reality are excessive. Audiences at the time didn't care, flocking to see a picture with a love story tinged with patriotism (albeit of a foreign sort). Modern viewers may not be so willing to forgive, not because they resent the historical inaccuracies, but because the newly created story is dreary, cliché, and unconvincing -- and is not helped by the dialogue containing its share of unintentional howlers. Still, A Song to Remember has its delights, chief among them is the gorgeous Chopin music, which is presented in easily accessible but still enjoyable doses. The hardy Cornel Wilde never comes across as sickly, but he turns in a surprisingly good performance, especially considering the quality of the material with which he must frequently work. He and Merle Oberon also make an especially attractive pair, and they are set off in a glorious production that doesn't stint on color or design. Paul Muni's performance is a bit strange, but also somehow endearing, and Charles Vidor's direction is smooth and efficient. Indeed, if the viewer is willing to set aside the screenplay, there's a great deal to enjoy in A Song to Remember.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/16/2010
UPC:
0043396354890
Original Release:
1945
Rating:
NR
Source:
Sony Pictures Home
Sales rank:
52,517

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Paul Muni Professor Joseph Elsner
Merle Oberon George Sand
Cornel Wilde Frederic Chopin
Stephen Bekassy Franz Liszt
George Coulouris Louis Pleyel
Nina Foch Constantia
Sig Arno Henri Dupont
Howard Freeman Kalbrenner
George Macready Alfred DeMusset
Claire Du Brey Mme. Mercier
Frank Puglia M. Jollet
Fern Emmett Mme. Lambert
Sybil Merritt Isabelle Chopin
Walter Bonn Major Domo
Eugene Borden Duc of Orleans
William Challee Titus
Peter Cusanelli Balzac
Norma Drury Duchess of Orleans
Gregory Gaye Young Russian
John George Servant
Fay Helm Mme. Chopin
Charles La Torre Postman
Darren McGavin Man
Cosmo Sardo Lackeys
Henry Sharp Russian Count
Maurice R. Tauzin Chopin, age 10
Ivan Triesault M. Chopin
Michael Visaroff Russian Governor
Charles Wagenheim Actor
Ian Wolfe Pleyel's Clerk
Dawn Bender Isabelle Chopin
Alfred Paix Headwaiter
Paul Zaremba Waiter
Zoya Karabanova Countess

Technical Credits
Charles Vidor Director
Lionel Banks Art Director
Travis Banton Costumes/Costume Designer
Sidney Buchman Producer,Screenwriter
Clay Campbell Makeup
Allen M. Davey Cinematographer
Louis Edelman Producer
Tony Gaudio Cinematographer
Ernst Marischka Original Story,Screenwriter
Charles Nelson Editor
Walter Plunkett Costumes/Costume Designer
Van Nest Polglase Art Director
Miklós Rózsa Score Composer
Morris W. Stoloff Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
Frank A. Tuttle Set Decoration/Design

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