Carnegie Hall

( 3 )

Overview

Edgar G. Ulmer's Carnegie Hall was once fairly easily seen on television, but had pretty well vanished from major markets by the 1970s. Parts of it turned up in the anniversary documentary film done about Carnegie Hall at the end of the 1980s, but otherwise it was unseen for decades. Indeed, this reviewer ran into the widow of one of the movie's two producers on a city bus around that time, whose first question was whether he knew of any possible videotape source for the movie. This DVD is just about the finest ...
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Overview

Edgar G. Ulmer's Carnegie Hall was once fairly easily seen on television, but had pretty well vanished from major markets by the 1970s. Parts of it turned up in the anniversary documentary film done about Carnegie Hall at the end of the 1980s, but otherwise it was unseen for decades. Indeed, this reviewer ran into the widow of one of the movie's two producers on a city bus around that time, whose first question was whether he knew of any possible videotape source for the movie. This DVD is just about the finest presentation the movie has had since the end of the 1940s, when it was new, and it looks and sounds about 90 times better than the print that was shown at a 1998 Edgar Ulmer retrospective in New York. With sharp detail and rich, deep contrasts, this disc is a delight to watch and just about as satisfying to hear. When the Tchaikovsky "Piano Concerto" opens 15 minutes into the movie, the audio track captures the music in about as fine a fashion as any feature film of the era. This is the best-looking Ulmer DVD title as of the summer of 2001, which is particularly pleasurable because, along with The Black Cat and perhaps The Strange Woman, Carnegie Hall is the most opulent film the director ever made. There are no signs of the limited budgets and threadbare, minimalist sets that usually characterized Ulmer's movies. Instead, he has real sets to work with and a cast that, if not quite entirely made of stars, at least had lots of experience in major movies, and he is able to take his time and let his camera linger in telling this story. And though the story itself -- all about a woman's struggle to raise her son as a musician after the death of her pianist husband -- probably even seemed hokey in 1947, there's enough musical interest to be found in the dozen performance sequences in Carnegie Hall to just about sustain its 136-minute running time. Ulmer's approach to the performance sequences is riveting, as he moves fluidly and gracefully between shots encompassing the overall orchestra, to those that isolate certain sections and internal musical lines, making extremely effective use of shadow in the process. Indeed, the performance sequences are so elegant and seemingly effortless in their sweep, power, and intimacy, that they overwhelm the supposed "dramatic" scenes. The plot, such as it is, is a rather silly (though potentially interesting) framing story that runs from May of 1891 to the swing era, offering some very interesting players, including Frank McHugh (in one of the largest parts of his career), Marsha Hunt (who was subsequently blacklisted), Martha O'Driscoll, and William Prince. The real "star" of the movie, as the title implies and Ulmer's most inspired work makes clear, is Carnegie Hall and the artists associated with it, and Kino has done a great job of presenting them. The 136-minute movie is divided into 19 chapters, all keyed to the presence of certain music or to a performance clip proper. The supplements include the re-release trailer for the movie and a visual walk through a printed guide intended for teachers, which was generated in association with the movie's original 1947 release. But Kino has extended the support materials in dramatic fashion -- they've reached back to Ulmer's most famous film of all, Detour, made a year or so prior to Carnegie Hall, and excerpted two scenes depicting protagonist Al Roberts' pianism, the second one involving Brahms' "Waltz in A Flat" (a piece also used in striking fashion in Val Lewton's thriller The Seventh Victim), which shows a similarly inventive method of delineating the relationship of a performer to music).
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Special Features

Digitally mastered from the original Nitrate Negative ; Original theatrical trailer; Gallery of rare behind-the-scenes production stills; Music notes by the National Film Music Council; The "Piano Scene" from Edgar Ulmer's Detour
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
If you can forget the silly story that Carnegie Hall has been saddled with and just concentrate on the musical performances, chances are you will have a pretty good time. It helps, of course, if you are not averse to classical music, for the scales are heavily tilted in that direction, despite the film's "swing and classics are both good stuff" resolution. In between the performances, you have to put up with a lot of nonsense that you've seen in plenty of other pictures, stuff about a son breaking his mother's heart by playing "low" music when she's been grooming him for the heights. You also have to be willing to believe that the titular musical establishment has a very liberal attitude toward career advancement among its employees and that the biggest names in classical music are pretty much just "reg'lar fellas." But stick with it, so that you can thrill to Bruno Walter (in a lovingly shot sequence), Artur Rubinstein's incredible artistry, the unique Leopold Stokowski, Lily Pons' scintillating coloratura, and many other classical giants of the day. The jazz musicians come off less well, with neither Vaughn Monroe nor Harry James seen at his best. Of the non-musicians, Mary O'Driscoll comes off well in a nothing part, and Marsha Hunt as the thread that ties it all together is generally effective. Edgar G. Ulmer's direction is a little staid for him, although he does make good use of the environment afforded by the Hall.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/14/2001
  • UPC: 738329019921
  • Original Release: 1947
  • Rating:

  • Source: Kino Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1)
  • Presentation: Black & White
  • Time: 2:16:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 17,871

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Emile Boreo Henry
Marsha Hunt Nora Ryan
Joseph Buloff Anton Tribik
William Prince Tony Salerno, Jr.
Frank McHugh John Donovan
Walter Damrosch Guest Artist
Martha O'Driscoll Ruth Haines
Hans Yaray Tony Salerno, Sr.
Olin Downes Himself
Harold Dyrenforth Walter Damrosch
Jascha Heifetz Guest Artist
Harry James Guest Artist
Jan Peerce Guest Artist
Ezio Pinza Guest Artist
Lily Pons Guest Artist
Fritz Reiner Guest Artist
Arthur Rubinstein Guest Artist
Risë Stevens Guest Artist
Leopold Stokowski Guest Artist
Vaughn Monroe
The New York Philharmonic
Gregor Piatigorsky
Artur Rodzinski
Bruno Walter
Technical Credits
Walter Damrosch Director
Olin Downes Director
Edgar G. Ulmer Director
William Le Baron Producer
Russell Bennett Score Composer
Hal Borne Songwriter
Sam Coslow Songwriter
Fred R. Feitshans Jr. Editor
Karl Kamb Screenwriter
Sigmund Krumgold Score Composer
M. Portnoff & W. Songwriter
William J. Miller Cinematographer
Wilton Moore Songwriter
Boris Morros Producer
Seena Owen Original Story
Frank Ryerson Songwriter
Gregory Stone Songwriter
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Scene Index

Side #1 -- Full Frame Version
0. Scene Selection
1. Opening Titles: Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, Second Movement [1:55]
2. Rehearsal: Tchaikovsky's First Piano Concerto In B flat minor [12:27]
3. Opening Night: Beethoven's "Lenore" No. 2 Overture; Tchaikovsky's First Piano [6:49]
4. Dinner Party: Schumann's Quintet in e flat major, Second Movement [3:04]
5. Wedding March: Wagner's Lohengren; Mendelssohn's A Midsummer Night's Dream [12:25]
6. Wagner's Prelude to Die: Meistersinger [5:42]
7. The Bell Song: Delibes's Lakmé (Lily Pons soloist) [5:53]
8. The Swan: From Saint-Saëns's Carnival of the Animals, Gregor Piatigorsky cello [5:05]
9. Mon cœur s'ouvre à ta voix: From Saint-Saëns's Samson and Delilah, Second Act; [1:55]
10. Beethoven's Fifth Symphony: Fourth Movement [4:53]
11. Ritual Fire Dance: Chopin's "Polonaise," Opus 53; "Ritual Fire Dance" from DeFa [9:06]
12. Music Lessons: Chopin's Waltz, Opus 64, No. 2; "Nocturne" [5:15]
13. O Sole Mio: diCapua, Jan Peerce solo [2:55]
14. Pinza Does Giovanni: "II Lacerto Spirito" from Verdi's Simon Boccanegra (prolog [1:57]
15. The Pleasure's All Mine: Vaughn Monroe Orchestra [3:07]
16. Beware My Heart: Vaughn Monroe solo [4:29]
17. Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto: in D major, First Movement, Jascha Heifetz violin [13:45]
18. Stokowski Takes the Stand: Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, Second Movement, Leopo [20:50]
19. "57th Street Rhapsody": ("All the World Is Mine") Harry James [7:41]
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Menu

Side #1 -- Full Frame Version
   Begin Feature
   Theatrical Trailer
   Gallery Of Stills
   Music Notes
   The "Piano Scene" From Detour
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 20, 2011

    Purchased as Bel Canto rework

    CD purchased as recommended for music. Black and white picture is poor quality, story is dopey, sound is excellent. Purchase for viewing performances of musicians.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Carnegie Hall is a stroll down memory land for the older set.

    I purchased the DVD of Carnegie Hall as a gift for my elderly aunt. She had seen the movie on TV and raved about it to me. It is a compilation of musical performances by many of the greats from back in the day. The plot of the story is very thin, and serves as a thread to weave together all the beautiful musical numbers. I have not seen the movie, but I am sure if you were to ask my aunt, she would recommend it for everyone who loves beautiful music.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews