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W.S. Van Dyke
William B. Davidson
From a poor working class background, Juan de Dios is a cantina performer in Seville, singing and dancing with his partner Lola. They have a contentious professional and personal relationship, her jealous self who cannot tolerate his constant flirting. He really aspires to be a serious opera singer, he under the tutelage of Estaban. Once the greatest impresario in Spain himself, Estaban lost everything because of the same reckless behavior that Juan now exhibits, that behavior which Estaban is trying to quell in Juan. Estaban's plan is to get one of his old contacts in Madrid, an impresario, to manage Juan's career to get him serious singing gigs, leading to that fame and fortune Esteban once used to have. It's love at first sight when Juan meets Maria Consuelo Vargas. What he initially doesn't know is that their meeting was by no accident, as she, a postulant at St. Agustín convent who just escaped from that life, had been mesmerized by him and his singing every time she saw him as ... Written by
None of the Technicolor sequences, as described in the New York Times review in October 1930, including at least one aria (Vesti la Giubba) by Novarro, seem to have survived; they were missing from the 100 minute print telecast by TBS in 1988-1989 and by Turner Classic Movies in 1997 and 2014. See more »
I watched The Call of the Flesh and enjoyed it despite the dueling accents. Ramon Novarro plays a saucy singer who teams with Renee Adoree to appear at local cantinas and is pushed by his friend (Ernest Torrence) to get serious about opera. But then he meets a "runaway" from a convent (Dorothy Jordan) who knows nothing of the world. He falls in love and dumps Adoree. But Adoree gets even by finding Jordan's military brother who tracks them down and sends her back to the convent. Meanwhile Novarro is turned down by a local opera house because he's never had his heart broken and his singing has no soul. Torrence buys a night for Novarro to sing at the opera and he grudgingly does to, bringing down the house. But his heart is so broken he's actually dying until Adoree takes action.
Novarro is quite good here, especially when singing. A few of the dramatic scenes are badly done, but the rest of the film is lively. Novarro co-wrote the song "Lonely" with Herbert Stothart. I have no idea what Novarro sings in the finale but he's good despite having rather thin high notes. It's quite a shock to see Torrence break out in song, but the burly Scottish actor, a dependable heavy in silent films, was a trained opera singer. Jordan and Adoree handle the music well.
There's a great scene where Torrence at the piano joins Novarro in a burst of song only to be joined by the landlady (Mathilde Comont). It all seems so spontaneous.
Sadly this was Adoree's final film. Her other talkie was Redemption with John Gilbert.
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