When I was young my Mum introduced me to the beauty of the tenor voices of Gigli and Caruso but I had to later discover for myself the likes of Schipa, Di Stefano, and the subject of this film Joseph Schmidt. The first song I heard of his was about 20 years ago - the strength of Te Quiero, Morena from 1930 led me to believe he was a powerfully built giant, how wrong I was is perfectly displayed in this film! He was about 5 foot tall and he clumped about in here in platform shoes too
and not what you might call a leading man. A career on the operatic
stage being almost impossible he did plenty of radio work, and a handful of films to let people see and hear him.
He and his two penniless friends are looking for work in picturesque Venice, they all find work in a show and he also finds love in a record shop. Does the tall beautiful girl fall for him or his tall handsome friend? That's all there is to it, for this was just an unashamedly simple vehicle for Schmidt to show his talent to let his song be heard around the world, and bask in the love of the unseen millions instead. A few highlights are trying to gain the theatre director's attention with a very confident Land So Wunderbar (O Paradiso), studying the reactions of people to his record Launisches Gluck being played, and a stately rendition accompanying himself on piano of Santa Lucia with a lovely steady vocal tone.
Sadly after the outbreak of WW2 on the run from the German government for being Jewish he failed to escape to America, and died of disease aged 38 in a Swiss refugee camp in 1942. As an understatement: What a voice, lost too early.
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