IMDb > Vagabond Violinist (1934)

Vagabond Violinist (1934) More at IMDbPro »The Broken Melody (original title)


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Release Date:
3 December 1934 (UK) See more »
Paul Verlaine is a struggling composer whose assistant Germaine is secretly in love with him. Starring John Garrick and Merle Oberon. | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
A rose by any other name See more (5 total) »


  (in credits order)
John Garrick ... Paul Verlaine
Margot Grahame ... Simone St. Cloud

Merle Oberon ... Germaine Brissard
Austin Trevor ... Pierre Falaise
Charles Carson ... Colonel Dubonnet
Harry Terry ... Henri
Andreas Malandrinos ... M. Brissard
Toni Edgar-Bruce ... Vera (as Tonie Edgar Bruce)
Conway Dixon ... Colonel's Friend
Stella Rho ... Lisette - Simone's Maid
Kynaston Reeves ... Colonel Fitzroy

Directed by
Bernard Vorhaus 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Vera Allinson 
Michael Hankinson 
H. Fowler Mear 

Produced by
Julius Hagen .... producer
Original Music by
W.L. Trytel 
Walter Meyrowitz (uncredited)
Cinematography by
Sydney Blythe 
William Luff 
Art Direction by
James A. Carter 
Music Department
W.L. Trytel .... musical director

Production CompaniesDistributorsOther Companies

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"The Broken Melody" - UK (original title)
See more »
UK:84 min | USA:62 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:

Did You Know?

This film was first shown on television Sunday 3 December 1939 on New York City's pioneer, and still experimental television station W2XBS. Post WWII television viewers got their first look at it in Los Angeles Sunday 17 April 1949 on KTSL (Channel 2), and in New York City Sunday 26 June 1949 on WPIX (Channel 11).See more »
Movie Connections:
Sorrow and TearsSee more »


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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful.
A rose by any other name, 1 April 2014
Author: SimonJack from United States

Please indulge me a small diversion before I comment on this film and its stars. Once in a while, a movie made in America will have its title changed for release in England and around the globe. And, some British movies are renamed before they open in America. This is one such movie. It had me scratching my head and wondering why. The logic and need for the change escape me completely. Both titles had been used before, so scratch that as a reason. Apparently, some movie mogul thought very little of our respective cultures and the intelligence of our citizenry. Or, he stood to make a little money on the side by repackaging.

The DVD cover and photo used by IMDb show this title as "The Broken Melody." But the IMDb listing has it under "Vagabond Violinist." The first was the original title when the film opened in the U.S. on Oct. 30, 1934. But, then it opened in England on Dec. 3 as, "Vagabond Violinist." Now, I admit to being somewhat an Anglophile (could it be something in my blood?). But for the life of me, I can't conceive why anyone would think "Vagabond Violinist" was a more fitting title for this film. Was it too obvious for a British audience? Did the Brits need to have the subject cloaked in suspense? Or, are vagabonds and violins more catchy and attractive to Brits than melodies – broken or unbroken?

Nowhere in this film do we notice a violinist playing, let alone a vagabond violinist. On the other hand, the male lead writes a song that he calls "The Broken Melody." He and a female lead sing it together. We hear the melody a couple more times in the film. Then, the cast reprises the song toward the end. The original seems to nail the story and theme quite clearly. Maybe some higher up to do with this film had a fixation with the letter "V" at the time.

It's a good thing he or she wasn't in charge of some classics that come to mind. Just think! Instead of "Murder on the Orient Express," we might have watched "Tricks and Treachery on the Train." Or, instead of "Around the World in 80 Days," we might have had "Air Balloon Travel." Or, "Pride and Prejudice" might have become "A Romp in the English Countryside," even with the Jane Austen title in hand. Or, instead of "Bonnie and Clyde," how about something as off-base as "New Clothes and a Car with Holes?"

So, thanks for indulging my above tirade. The line from Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" comes to mind – "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." Regardless of its name, "The Broken Melody" is a sweet period drama of human foibles, and weaknesses, infatuation, pride and self-centeredness, arrogance and snobbery, true love and unselfishness, and redemption. That's a lot to pack into a film with this title, but it's all set around music with an aspiring composer, a famous opera star, and two budding singers.

This is not a great film. It was made in England and released first in the U.S. It has an interesting plot. Most of the cast are not first- tier, but the leads were well known and popular at the time. John Garrick is just OK as Paul Verlaine. Margot Grahame gets second billing, and is very good as Simone St. Cloud. Austin Trevor is very good as Pierre Falaise. But Merle Oberon, as Germaine Brissard, is the star of this movie – even in her lesser role.

Oberon is one of several excellent actresses who never won an Oscar. She was nominated for one, and had several Oscar-worthy roles in her life. She was of mixed Welsh-Indian parentage, and was one of the most physically beautiful women of the 20th century. And, she had talent. She retired from film in her early 1950s and died at age 68 of a stroke. Oberon had a number of excellent films in a career in which she starred with the greatest male actors of the time, including two English greats who died young – Robert Donat and Leslie Howard. Among her other leading co-stars were Laurence Olivier, Marlon Brando, Claude Rains, Frederic March, Dana Andrews, Rex Harrison, David Niven, Franchot Tone and Paul Muni.

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