|Index||3 reviews in total|
Grace Moore was lucky to get two cracks at Hollywood, first with MGM
and later with Columbia. Harry Cohn definitely knew how to showcase her
better than the material that MGM gave her.
The story of Jenny Lind, the famous Swedish Nightingale of the 19th Century might have been a good choice and her real story would have been good cinematic material. The plot as presented here had nothing to do with the real Jenny Lind. The only thing that was real was the fact that P.T. Barnum brought her over to the USA for a famous tour. Barnum also marketed her in the same way a century later Hopalong Cassidy got marketed when his old films gave him renewed popularity on television. Wallace Beery played Barnum for the first time here, later on MGM would star him in a film about Barnum.
The acting by Moore and her leading man Reginald Denny is way over the top. The plot is also terribly melodramatic. Denny's character as a composer who goes blind is completely fictional. In real life Jenny Lind married her accompanist and really did live happily ever after.
Moore made one more film for Leo the Lion and then went back to New York and the Metropolitan Opera. Harry Cohn brought her back in 1934 when she made One Night of Love for Columbia and it was a great success. She comes across so much better there than in A Lady's Morals.
Still she does have some nice arias and opera fans will tolerate the melodrama to hear them.
As far as I can tell, the incidents shown in this film did not happen
to the real Jenny Lind, portrayed here by Grace Moore.
Lind was the "Swedish Nightingale," an opera and concert performer in the 1800s who was brought to America by P.T. Barnum and madly hyped. There is no way to hear her voice today, alas, but some writings have stated that she was probably not as good as some of her contemporaries, but she was a favorite of several composers and given tons of publicity by Barnum. She apparently sang coloratura; in fact, once she sang a Rossini aria for Rossini, and it was so interpolated, when she was finished, Rossini said, "A pretty little song. Who wrote it?" In this story, Lind meets a composer (Reginald Denny) who falls for her and writes for her, eventually going blind. Fiction, as far as I can tell, as Lind married Otto Goldschmidt and had a long and successful marriage, and three children.
This story is very melodramatic and, done in 1930, a lot of the acting and sound bugs hadn't been worked out yet. One thing that is true is that Lind did suffer vocal problems and a famous teacher did help restore her voice; however, her problems didn't begin while she was on stage in Norma repeating the Casta Diva (repeating arias was often done in the old days when there was a loud and long ovation).
Moore sings from the above-mentioned Norma and La Fille du Regiment. What makes the film watchable is Moore's singing. She had a beautiful voice. Like a lot of the early sopranos, the top wasn't 100%; I can never figure out if it was the way they were recorded or taught. However, her debut was in Der Freischutz as Agathe, which leads me to believe she had a sizable lyric coloratura voice. However, given that these early singers sang everything, maybe not. It's not known why she retired from opera in her late twenties; it could have been that she found it too hard on her voice.
Anyway, enjoy Moore's lovely singing.
A Lady's Morals offers a good opportunity to catch Grace Moore in her brief career as well as a good, as always, early Wallace Beery. I find the performance of Gus Shy as the friend to be interesting and very focused. Mr. Shy's performance does register. Grace Moore shows that she was a relaxed performer.
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