This is a remarkably good film full of singers, with excellent sound quality, which is surprising for a film as early as this. It is not strictly speaking 'a musical', but it is full of music. It appeared in a French version entitled MON COEUR T'APPELLE in 1934 and in an English language version with variant casting in 1935 in America. I am reviewing the English language version. The star of both versions is the Polish tenor Jan Kiepura (1902-1966). Not only is he a magnificent singer, he is jovial, amusing and witty as an actor. He appeared in 21 films between 1930 and 1952. Opposite him is Martha Eggerth, replacing Danielle Darrieux who only appeared in the French version. (Kiepura, called Jean Kiepura, made another film opposite Darrieux in 1935 in France with director Carl Lamac, entitled J'AIME TOUTES LES FEMMES, in English entitled I LIKE ALL THE WOMEN.) In 1937, Kiepura and Eggerth appeared together in a film based on LA BOHEME and entitled ZAUBER DER BOHEME. The story of MY HEART IS CALLING concerns an itinerant opera company, the manager of which is played in the English language version by the English actor Sonnie Hale, who overacts and is rather annoying but still manages to keep the bonhomie going. Kiepura is the unknown tenor in that company, whose magnificent voice has gone unheard by all the leading opera company managers. The company turns up in Monte Carlo, where they are supposed to have had a brief booking, but it has been cancelled, and they are left stranded and broke. However, with buoyant good humour, they decide not to accept defeat and they put on a full performance of TOSCA outside the entrance to the Monte Carlo Opera House at the same time that the normal performance of the same opera is taking place inside. Kiepura is so good that everyone leaves the opera house in order to go outside and hear the unofficial performance. So it's one of those jolly 'against all the odds we go on smiling' type of films, so welcome during the Great Depression. The film is extremely well directed by the Italian director Carmine Gallone (1885-1973). Gallone directed 125 films, most of which have never been seen outside Italy, although a few have been given French subtitles, such as MICHAEL STROGOFF (1956). Gallone seems to have filmed every 19th century Italian opera of note, and was clearly obsessed with opera. He also made a film about Puccini (1953), one about the mother of Nero (1951), a film about Christopher Columbus (1937), a film about the ancient Roman general Scipio Africanus (1937), a film about Harlem (1943), and a drama with the stirring title ODESSA IN FLAMES (1942). Today he seems to be remembered only for his DON CAMILLO films starring Fernandel. I am certain that the lack of availability of Gallone's films with English subtitles has been a significant loss to people concerned with cinema history. And for anyone interested in opera, it is something of a catastrophe. Surely someone should try and resurrect some of these Gallone films. This one has never been commercially issued on video or DVD, and I obtained a DVD of it from a private collector.
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