A mysterious criminal known as The Whispering Shadow commits crimes by means of a gang he controls by television and radio rays. Jack Norton, whose brother was murdered by The Whispering ... See full summary »
True, he sings, but not well. In any case, he is a minor supporting player in Warner Bros' lush 1930 musical, "Viennese Nights". This picture was produced in a 2-color technicolor process and was restored by the UCLA Film Dept. and is a wonder to behold, keeping in mind the year, 1930. It also a wonder to listen to, with words and music by Oscar Hammerstein and Sigmund Romberg. You would imagine the stage would be set for a rating of an 8 or a 9.
But, no. We've seen this storyline, a three-generational saga of love lost, many times before but the entire production is undermined by the weakness of its two co-stars. Alexander Gray is (was) a capable singer but is a wooden actor and seems uncomfortable when not singing. In this respect he is like Nelson Eddy. I had no chance to see Vivienne Segal on the Broadway stage but she was an institution there. She created the role of Vera Simpson (Bewitched,Bothered and Bewildered) in the 1940 production of "Pal Joey". She had a lovely singing voice, like Jeanette MacDonald, and, as was mentioned above, resembles a slimmed-down Bette Midler, but seems all wrong in front of a movie camera. Jeanette MacDonald exuded sensuality and an enticing sense of her own charm. Ms. Segal exudes...nothing. The dependable Bert Roach is on hand but as a supporting player can do only what is asked of him.
So, with heavy heart, I give this film a rating of 7. Nevertheless I am happy to have seen it. It played at Capitolfest in Rome, N.Y., 8/09 in 35MM.
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